Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
What parents need to know
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
Thinking & Reasoning
- friendship building
Engagement, Approach, Support
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.
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.
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'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?
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?