Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze – Nintendo Switch | Nintendo
When Tropical Freeze released on the Wii U in 2014, it was exciting because it marked Donkey Kong Country’s belated entry into the world of high definition. It played well, included tons of nostalgic and novel platforming ideas, and offered a significant, but fair challenge. Unfortunately, simply by the nature of its underperforming platform, not many people played it. The Switch re-release offers a chance for those that skipped the Wii U to play a fantastic platformer, but even for those that played it four years ago, there is at least one incentive to make a return trip to Donkey Kong Country.
The transition from Wii U to Switch by the original developer, Retro, is seamless. The platforming is accurate and fast, the resolution improves from 720p to 1080p when docked, and the soundtrack is worth the effort of seeking out headphones.
The big addition for the Switch version is the inclusion of a playable Funky Kong, which changes the experience in some significant and fun ways. Tropical Freeze is hard, and if you want to play the difficult-but-fair original version, you can. Playing as Funky Kong, however, functions as an easy mode. He has more hearts and does not take damage from spike pits. He can also roll infinitely, breathe underwater, double-jump, and perform a floating drop. He’s a combination of some of the distinguishing abilities of the other playable Kongs, and it makes it all much easier. If you found Tropical Freeze too difficult, Funky makes the challenge much more manageable, which is great for young or impatient players.
For skilled players, however, Funky is a speed-runner’s dream. I have no delusions of calling myself a speed-runner, but ripping through a level using Funky Kong’s infinite roll and double jump created a new type of high-speed challenge I enjoyed tremendously. It made me feel like a Donkey Kong Country expert and wonder why I ever called the original challenging. Going back to the original mode made me quickly remember, but as a returning tourist, I liked having a mode that let me quickly play through the whole game again.
The Switch version reaffirms that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a fantastic platformer. Having a new character to control and a handheld version of the game is great for previous owners, but the real audience is those who missed the original release.
Bring the excellent, but underplayed, Tropical Freeze to the Switch with a new playable character that basically functions as an easy mode
Tropical Freeze looked great in HD when it debuted in 2014, and the transition to Switch went well. The fur physics stand out in particular
Thanks to the return of the SNES games’ original composer, David Wise, Tropical Freeze’s soundtrack hits all the right nostalgic notes. The new stuff is great, too
Moving the Kong family, pounding the ground, and rolling into a jump all feel great. Even swimming works well, though it’s not as fun as running and jumping
Tropical Freeze stands among the best platformers of the last decade. Playing as Funky Kong is great for alleviating frustration or allowing skilled players to breeze through the game at high speed
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Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is a fun and challenging platformer that isn’t afraid to make you work hard.
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Tropical Freeze — Gamedev on DTF
As standard for the genre, mechanics are rethought in a platformer from Retro Studios.
Mark Brown, author of game design video blog Game Maker’s Toolkit, talked about how levels are arranged in classic 2D platformers and how Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze uses them to create a new experience. DTF publishes a transcript of the video.
I really love Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Not only is it fun, but it also features some of the most inventive and ambitious level design in a platform game to date.
After all, in what other game will you fly on horseback on a rocket made from a barrel past a huge piece of cheese? Or climb a mountain on platforms during an avalanche? Or will you start the level by jumping through tornadoes and dodging lightning, only to find yourself in the middle of a tornado at the end?
Developers at Retro Studios had to step outside of the traditional Nintendo approaches that the company has used since the NES console and up to games like New Super Mario Bros. U.
In these games, each level is a demonstration of one idea. It may be a special type of platform, as in the Spinning-Star Sky level; a new enemy, like those bipedal enemies from the Bramball Woods level. It could be some kind of threat, or a big enemy chasing you throughout the level.
This mechanic is presented to the player, and then used several times throughout the level, but in more complex variations. For example, the swinging platform in Lemmy’s Singback Castle. At first it is only one, but a little further on the level you will need to jump from one such platform to another (between them, at the same time, there is an enemy). Then two more platforms, but this time there is lava below, making the fall fatal. Then clots of fire will jump out of it. Next – a change in the pattern of swinging platforms. In the next section, the platforms are sinking into the lava, and you will have to hurry up to collect the red coins. And finally, the last segment, which combines all the elements from the previous ones.
Levels can have little extra mechanics like Switchback Hill where there are platforms that move when you step on them, but you also have to dodge bullets. These elements are almost always taken from other levels.
Mario games have been using this level design for decades. The same was the case with Donkey Kong. In Rare’s Donkey Kong Country, there are places where the opponents interfere with further progress by running back and forth until you hit special barrels. There are also hot air balloon rides where the characters need to catch hot air currents in order to rise higher.
Donkey Kong Country Returns takes this approach in most stages. Levels like Damp Dungeon are built around watermills with new elements being added.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
This method of building game zones has shown itself well. The levels can be filled with a lot of unique ideas. So you can not only present it to the player, but also experiment with it.
However, there are also disadvantages: the levels become predictable and very short, because the number of variations of each of the mechanics is limited. game stages. As a result, the developers are running out of ideas: you will find the same elements in all four games in the New Super Mario Bros. series.
The pattern was broken in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Take a look at the Horn-top Hop level. It’s about horns – musical instruments. There are those who blow enemies, those who try to shoot you at the spikes and the huge horn that Donkey Kong uses to move. There are falling leaves that you climb or climb down. In some locations, these two mechanics are used together.
While classic levels from Nintendo explored one idea, stages in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze can contain up to four mechanics and combine them. For example, in the Rickety Rafters level, there are three such mechanics: switches that you pull, that you stand on, and those that you need to throw a berry to activate. Each of them is presented in a typical Mario style, but the combination of them gives much more interesting results.
The Baobab Bonanza level features two different mechanics. There are flowers that bend under the weight of the protagonist, as well as places in which thorn-covered nuts roll down the hill. Mechanics alternate, which does not allow the level to become predictable. However, at the end of the stage, both ideas work together: you have to run away from the giant nut by jumping through the flowers.
It seems that level designers in each new level are trying to outdo each other. Even with ones that are conceptually similar to the old ones, like Sawmill Thrill, which is built almost exclusively on the use of circular saws, Retro Studios finds ways to use ideas in an unusual way. Saws don’t just get bigger or move faster over time, they create platforms for moving forward.
One mechanic per level is the exception, not the rule. The game is filled with stages that use several ideas. Retro Studios manages to combine them according to the principle of thematic similarity. So, for example, in the Scorch ‘n’ Torch level, there are about six different mechanics, but they are all united by the forest fire theme. There are:
- water berries that put out the fire;
- burning trees that fall when the player stands on them;
- ropes in flames;
- burning statues falling to the ground;
- hot coal, forcing you to move faster;
- fire falling from heaven.
Each item is presented to the player. For example, the first statue falls on the enemy, making it clear what will happen to Donkey Kong if he stands under it. In addition, each mechanic evolves as the level progresses: at first, leaves simply fall from the trees, but later they are completely burned. The mechanics also combo, with burning statues falling onto coals, right before the player has to jump onto and swing from flames on ropes, dodging fire from the sky. Remember: this combination is only possible if the player has been taught each of these mechanics separately in advance.
In the level Fruity Factory, the mechanics are even more connected to the theme. Huge knives cut through conveyor belt watermelons, giant drills cut the flesh out of grapefruits, blades grind up fruit platforms that Donkey Kong jumps on. Concentrating primarily on the theme of fruit processing, and not on game mechanics, Retro implement a variety of ideas.
A whole series of levels are united by one theme here: on the first one we see the collection of fruits, on the next three – their processing, on the fourth – fruits turn into jelly, and on the sixth – into ice cream. All this has a logical outcome during the boss fight.
There is much more to Donkey Kong’s levels than a series of evolving mechanics. Sometimes there are breaks. So, in the Windmill Hills level (built around mills and collapsing platforms) there is a section where you have to climb to the very top of the tower, and then go down the cable car. These moments do not develop the main mechanics in any way, but divide the stage into parts.