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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Preview

Anthony_Severino By:
GENRE Platformer 
E Contains Mild Cartoon Violence

What do these ratings mean?

If you like pina coladas…

Donkey Kong Country returned on the Wii just a few years back, and that same game re-returned to the 3DS a month ago. Now the franchise is back again on the Wii U, bringing little new to the table aside from HD visuals and a twisting-turning 3D background. But that’s all that's needed, really.

The gameplay is just as stellar as you would expect. Platforming, tossing enemies, and blasting from barrel to barrel in a massive banana smash-n-grab is good clean fun—especially for a species known for throwing its feces. But gameplay is rarely an issue with mainstay Nintendo franchises. However, it seems that pushing the envelope is becoming one.

Like Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze doesn’t innovate in any way, nor does it use the Wii U GamePad as an example of why it was a necessary addition to the Wii U as a console. In fact, you can play with only Wiimotes—no GamePad is necessary. Nothing is added to the experience, but it also doesn’t get in the way of anything, and at the very least can be used for off-TV play. I got to try the off-TV play as well as on-TV play, and the two methods were exact duplicates.

But we’ve waited a long time for HD Nintendo games—a whole generation too late, mind you—so on an HDTV is where you’ll appreciate the incredibly detailed environments and the corkscrew-like twisting 3D stages. These add much depth to the action around you, despite not being able to dive into it yourself. But as you do progress through the stage or are shot out of barrel after barrel, you’ll notice that subtle turning effect.

The game’s subtitled Tropical Freeze due to some elements being added. For example, swimming in water-based island stages makes a comeback and is something that was missed in DKC Returns. And although I didn’t get to experience it myself, the Freeze aspect will be some ice stages that make for slip-and-slide platforming.

Fans will be happy to know that not only can you team up cooperatively with Diddy, but Dixie Kong is back after nearly a decade hiatus. Diddy’s got a jetpack that’ll help reach otherwise inaccessible places and can hop on Donkey Kong’s back.

If you’ve played Donkey Kong Country or, more recently, Donkey Kong Country Returns on either Wii or 3DS and enjoyed it, you’ll love everything Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has to offer. The game serves as a fun platformer with classic gameplay and characters, a HD visual treat, but falls shy of being a reason to own a Wii U. It’s developed by Retro and there’s plenty of time from now until it releases, so hopefully that’ll change.
More GR previews for this game:
Hands-On January 2014 posted on 01/19/14.

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