Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Common Sense Media says

Fun but hard platformer likely to frustrate younger players.

Age(i)

2
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5
6
7
8
9
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11
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13
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17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This simple adventure game doesn't try to communicate any morals or important messages. But it's not entirely mindless. Players need to use their heads to figure out strategies. Plus, local co-op makes for a good social gaming experience.

Positive role models

The game's heroes are all action, no talk. They bowl through anything in their path on their way to reclaiming Donkey Kong's lost island. There's not much these fantastical characters get up to that players could realistically emulate. Worth noting: Among the new playable characters is Dixie Kong, a female monkey, which means girls can play as a character of their own gender.  

Ease of play

It starts off easy, but quickly grows in difficulty, becoming one of the most challenging Nintendo platformers around. The controls are tight, but players' margin for error is minimal. And boss fights are long and hard. Playing in co-op, kids having trouble can hop onto the stronger player's back and let him or her carry them through more challenging areas. But if the leading player fails then both characters lose a life. 

Violence

Donkey Kong can pound the ground to stun fantastical foes (weird looking wart hogs, birds, fish, etc.), or hop on them to knock them out, making them disappear from the screen. He can also pick enemies up and throw them or roll through them to knock them down like bowling pins. Boss battles typically involve similar stomping and rolling mechanics, but the enemies are a little more dramatic when they take hits, showing rage and frustration.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

This game is part of a popular Nintendo franchise and features characters that have been appearing in games for more than 30 years. Kids who enjoy this one will probably want to see what some of Donkey Kong's other games are like.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a cartoonish platformer exclusive to Wii U. Donkey Kong and his cronies hop on enemies' heads or barrel through them with monkey rolls, knocking them out and making them fall off the screen or disappear. Pretty mild stuff. Note, though, that this is a lot harder than a Mario game. The difficulty could lead to some frustration in less experienced players. In couch co-op mode, the player controlling the secondary character can hop onto the back of the stronger player's Donkey Kong and ride along until a safer area is reached. Girls may appreciate that they can play as a female character in the form of Dixie Kong, something that hasn't been possible in a new Donkey Kong Country game since 1996's Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!.  

What kids can learn

Subjects

Hobbies

  • collecting

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • strategy

Communication

  • friendship building

Collaboration

  • cooperation

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Accessible, easy on the eyes, and supporting local, social play, this colorful platformer will keep kids glued to the screen for as long as you let them play -- or at least until they become frustrated by the difficulty. 

Learning Approach

Kids will need to analyze each new obstacle and enemy to discern weaknesses and plan their movements. Playing with a friend will encourage kids to communicate to work out strategies. 

Support

In-game instructions lead players through the basics. No official supports exist outside the game, though kids are bound to share strategies and walkthroughs with one another in person and online.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Hobbies

  • collecting

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • strategy

Communication

  • friendship building

Collaboration

  • cooperation

Kids can learn about formulating strategy and build friendships while playing this well-crafted platform adventure game. Each stage presents new obstacles that will make players pause to consider available options and figure out what might work best, relying on their experience with the game's mechanics to create tactics specific to each situation. Co-operate play, meanwhile, naturally encourages kids to talk to one another and plan out strategies in tricky situations, such as boss fights. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze shines as a good social gaming experience that requires kids to think about what they're doing and formulate plans.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

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What's it about?

DONKEY KONG COUNTRY: TROPICAL FREEZE begins with Donkey Kong's island being frozen and forcibly taken by a group of snowy animal characters. Donkey Kong and his companions -- Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky -- set out to take the island back, but first they have to get there by traveling across a few others. Play is similar to that of most other games in the series, particularly 2010's Donkey Kong Country Returns. Players run through environments with various themes, leaping over chasms, climbing grassy walls and ceilings, and hopping on enemy characters while looking for collectibles that include bananas, puzzle pieces, and the letters K, O, N, and G. Hidden challenge rooms are scattered around each level, as are special activities, such as riding rhinos or jumping into a mining cart that runs along a winding track pocked with gaps and jumps. A co-op mode allows two players to play together in the same room, with one taking on the primary role of Donkey Kong while another assumes the position of one of his helpers.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze seems content simply to give fans more of the running and jumping action they expect -- and make it a fair bit harder. The move to high definition on Wii U means the game's world is noticeably more detailed than that of its predecessors. The new secondary characters, each with their own quirks, are a nice addition, too. But fans looking for a new killer feature may be disappointed. The closest this game comes is a new ability called Kong-Pow, which sees Donkey Kong and his companion of the moment giving each other a high-five, turning all enemies on-screen into collectible items -- neat, but far from a game changer. That said, there's little doubt skilled and experienced platformer fans will find it a fun, polished, and replayable adventure. The controls are tight, empowering players to pull off some of the game's trickier moves.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ​ doesn't raise the bar for the series, and it's almost certainly too challenging for some of the younger players who will undoubtedly want to play, but it has Nintendo quality written all over it. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about female characters in games. Dixie Kong is playable in this game, but she's not the main character. Do you think Nintendo should have given her a role as important as that of Donkey Kong? Is there anything about her personality that bothers you?

  • Families also can compare Donkey Kong with Mario. What are the main differences between these two iconic Nintendo characters and their games? Does one make a better role model than the other? 

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo Wii U
Price:$59.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Nintendo
Release date:February 21, 2014
Genre:Action/Adventure
ESRB rating:E for Mild Cartoon Violence (Nintendo Wii U)

This review of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byJEDI micah August 28, 2014
AGE
7
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

DK on ice!

Everyone's favorite game ape is back, and more gorgeous than ever now in amazing HD! The game may be a little more challenging than the first one, but it's challenging enough for players to want to try to beat each level; and each level is beautifully designed! This is a great game for DK fans and Wii U owners!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Easy to play/use
Too much violence
Too much consumerism
Safety and privacy concerns

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