A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a cartoonish platformer for the Wii U and Nintendo Switch. 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. The game difficulty could lead to some frustration in less experienced players. The Nintendo Switch version of Tropical Freeze allows players to step into the board shorts of Funky Kong, who has more health and different abilities than the other primates, making play a bit easier. 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. Some players may appreciate that they can play as a female character in the form of Dixie Kong, something that hasn't been possible in a Donkey Kong Country game since 1996's Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!
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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. 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. The Nintendo Switch version lets players step into the shorts of Funky Kong, gaining completely new abilities. Funky has extra health and the ability to hover and double-jump, and he can land on spikes thanks to his surfboard. This mode can make it more accessible to younger players or anyone who's new to this kind of game.
Is it any good?
This classic adventure returns with a brand-new mode to make the challenging gameplay more accessible, but don't be too fooled: This game will still test your leaping skills. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze gives fans more of the running and jumping maneuvers they expect from this kind of action game but makes it a fair bit harder. Sure, it starts off easy to make sure that you get used to your special moves, but then it tosses lots of pits, spikes, and other hazards at you that can frustrate even experienced gamers. At least the addition of secondary characters, each with their own abilities, gives you a chance at succeeding in each level, because they help you gain access to new areas and avoid some traps. In fact, as you defeat enemies, you build up a meter for your ultimate attack called Kong-Pow. Once triggered, Donkey Kong and his companion of the moment give each other a high-five, which turns all enemies on-screen into collectible items. That can be very useful in giving yourself a breather while you're trying to figure out where to go on a level.
The Nintendo Switch version of Tropical Freeze at least recognizes the game's difficulty, adding in a new Funky Kong mode to make the action easier. Funky has more powers than Donkey Kong -- he can float, walk on spikes (thanks to his surfboard), hover, and double-jump. He also has more health, which gives more chances to explore a stage. The major trade-off with this mode? DK's friends don't travel along with Funky, but that's OK -- his skills are more than enough to let him go it alone. Overall, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze may be too challenging for some younger players, but the addition of Funky mode and the high watermark of Nintendo quality is written all over this island-hopping tale. There's little doubt that both skilled and experienced gamers will find this a fun, polished, and replayable adventure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about female characters in games. Dixie Kong is playable in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, 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?
Talk about the difficulty level of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Are you surprised that the steep challenge of the game is slightly hidden by the cartoonish visuals? Do you think people underestimate the difficulty of the obstacles they'll face in this adventure?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii U
- Subjects: Hobbies: collecting
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
Communication: friendship building
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: May 4, 2018
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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