While the rest of the console world deals with intense “filmy” games on next-generation machines, Nintendo seems more than happy to live in the past and constantly refine the Genres that have existed since the beginning of the game. There’s nothing new about Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze. And it doesn’t matter.
It’s defiantly old-fashioned, Levels-and-Lives platform, but the goodness is beautiful. In dynamic 720p and error-free 60fps, Donkey and his friends rush from left to right through six worlds, each offering an incredible variety of ideas, a visual fireworks display and a considerable challenge.
If Satan made video game bosses himself, they would be in Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze. These awesome difficulty spikes take you to the absolute limits of your platforming abilities and make you laugh in the face if you fail repeatedly. They are the fabric of nightmares; beautiful, awkward villains who lull you early into a false sense of security and then cheerfully punish you when they reach their final forms.
The rest of the game is also not a picnic, no matter how many bananas are on display. Retro seems to have been very proud to create a wild Trickiness platformer; one that disguises itself as child’s play, but with the cruel and constant heart of a video game veteran. From the third level it is clear that this is not an easy journey; Tropical Freeze is constantly difficult and often quite malicious.
The rewards are many. The diversity of the exposition is outstanding; in one second they throw water balloons over burning rope bridges, in the next they are chased underwater by an octopus in a crazy shot to the surface. The weight of Donkey Kong (accompanied by Diddy, Dixie and Cranky Now, who perform in Power-Up kegs or as cooperative partners) means that the pace of the jump is more conscious than Mario and less Forgiving than Rayman, but it’s still a game of impeccable control and conscious design.