Review: Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is Essential on Switch

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is the first game in the series that I’ve really played.

I’ve dabbled with the SNES games and didn’t really play anything on my Wii U, but when I heard that Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze was making its way to Switch, I was very happy indeed. This time I was determined to give a Donkey Kong Country game a proper go, and I’m mightily glad that I did.

Winter is coming

Beginning with a Snomad invasion which results in Donkey Kong Island being frozen over, it’s up to you to roll, pound, jump and swing through six tropical islands to thaw it out. Each island has a considerable number of stages to complete before you move onto the next. And while most are content with challenging your standard platforming skills, some variety is afforded by mine cart levels, bosses and the odd other unique gameplay element.

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Stellar level design is what makes Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze such a joy to play. Every level is bright, colourful and full of detail. Each and every one of them entices you to explore, even though they’re ultimately linear. And as you jump and roll to eradicate enemies and time your jumps onto moving platforms, you’re always aware that there are a plethora of secrets to be discovered.

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Banana appeal

Sometimes you’ll simply need to collect all of the bananas in a formation to reveal a puzzle piece. Other times pounding on the floor will trigger a trap door, allowing you to access a secret room. While you can simply power through Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze‘s levels to reach the end, it’s those who’ll scour them for all the goodies they hold that’ll find the experience most rewarding.

Admittedly, the rewards for meticulously searching each level won’t excite some; viewing character models, listening to audio tracks and such certainly has limited appeal. For most, however, the feeling of successfully mastering a level is reward enough. And it’s a task that has been made more accessible on ever on Nintendo Switch.

Funky by name, funky by nature

After complaints that the Wii U version of the game was too difficult, the Switch version of Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze features a new Funky Mode. Giving all of the Kongs additional health, it also allows you to take control of Funky Kong. As Funky Kong you have benefits such as the ability to double jump, land safely on spikes and even endlessly remain underwater. It’s essentially like entering cheat mode. You can even skip levels if they pose too much of a challenge.

For many, playing as Funky Kong will feel a little game breaking. I myself found playing as the standard Donkey Kong in Funky Mode a happy medium. You’re required to acquire and make use of Dixie, Diddy and Cranky Kong’s abilities to reach otherwise inaccessible items and areas, and while the game is generally still challenging, you’re able to take extra items into levels to make them more manageable.

Poor checkpointing can sometimes still be an issue even in Funky Mode though. There are plenty of places where you can easily fall to your death, and you’re often taken quite far back when you do. It’s rarely too much of a problem, but having to replay parts of a level time and time again because of one particularly nasty platforming challenge can annoy. Aside from that though, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is pretty much frustration free.

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Cheery fun for all

On Nintendo Switch, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze looks wonderful, particularly in handheld mode. The visuals have character and charm, and performance is top notch too. The game’s soundtrack is always pleasant on the ears as well. It’s a nice, joyful game, which makes it even better to experience in co-op. If you’re after a game to play with your significant other or children, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze‘s multiplayer features make it a winner.

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is simply fantastic. Enhanced for Nintendo Switch, it’s one of the best old-fashioned 2D platformers of recent years. Perfect for gamers of all ages and skill levels, it provides a lasting challenge that’s enjoyable from beginning to end. If you’ve got a Nintendo Switch and haven’t yet experienced Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, it’s absolutely essential.

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is available on Nintendo Switch.