'Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze' is a Triumph for the Nintendo Switch


There Nintendo goes with another remake on its brand new console. And now the Nintendo Switch has another hit.

If you missed Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze four years ago on the Nintendo Wii U, now is your chance to finally get caught up. Back in 2014, Tropical Freeze was one of those underrated titles, another brilliant platformer from the company that knows platforming better than anyone, but a title that was lost in the sea of Destiny and Dark Souls and (gulp) Disney Infinity.

Four years later, though, Tropical Freeze is yet another game that makes the Switch such a worthwhile console. Nintendo's new machine is the perfect space for platformers, letting their graphical prowess shine on the big screen, while their easy play rocks when you're on the go.

Tropical Freeze continues that, delivering a splendid blend of side-scrolling action, exploration, and boss battles. There's your typical thin story here, and that thinness works especially well in an on-the-go title: You don't need to pay attention to the story to love the quick-twitch gameplay.

What I love about the Donkey Kong Country series is its blend of quick-twitch timing gameplay and and slow exploration. This isn't Sonic the Hedgehog, all speed and electric pace. It's also not Super Mario, which has often had a timer keeping you honest. Donkey Kong Country's rhythm falls right in the middle of that, with Donkey Kong (and friends) all being a little bouncier, offering slight margin for error, but not enough to make things too easy.

There's still plenty of challenge in Tropical Freeze, though, and you'll die often. Donkey Kong's adversaries are varied, and you have a limited number of hearts to get started. Boss battles in particular are filled with challenge, but things never feel unfair.

Still, Nintendo provides options that can scale back the challenge, critical for a generation of gamers who aren't always used to unforgiving platformers. Enter Funky Mode, which lets you play as the sunglass-wearing, surfboard-toting Funky Kong. This is the obligatory "easy mode" that's in more and more platformers, and it's one of the best easy modes you'll ever play.

Why? Because it doesn't eliminate challenge; it just tweaks it. Funky is the floatiest Kong of them all, making his jumps extra-forgiving, so you'll reach hidden "K-O-N-G" letters that were once frustrating with a little less ingenuity, yet you'll still need some skill. Regenerative hearts also appear more often, but not so often that they wreck the game. Funky Mode is a challenging platformer made slightly less challenging, but it doesn't feel like God Mode, a triumph to the title.

Overall, Tropical Freeze is a triumph for Nintendo and the Nintendo Switch, which is gradually finding its place on the console landscape. Yes, there are quite a few classic ports on the Nintendo Switch.

But if they're this good, that's not at all a problem.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch

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