A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
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.
Doesn't try to communicate any morals or important messages, but it's not entirely mindless. Players need to use their head to figure out strategies. Plus, local co-op makes for a positive 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 characters do that players could realistically emulate. The presence of Dixie Kong, a female monkey, means that there's a girl-identifying character available to players.
Ease of Play
Starts off easy but quickly grows in difficulty. Controls are tight, but players' margin for error is minimal. Boss fights are long and difficult. Playing in co-op, kids who are having trouble can hop onto the stronger player's back and let that player carry them through more challenging areas. But if the leading player fails, then both characters lose a life. Switch version includes Funky Kong as a playable character, who has more health and different special abilities, making it easier to play the game.
Violence & Scariness
Donkey Kong or Funky Kong can pound the ground to stun fantastical foes (odd-looking warthogs, birds, fish, etc.), or hop on them to knock them out, making them disappear. 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 enemies are a little more dramatic when they take hits, showing rage and frustration.
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Products & Purchases
Part of a popular Nintendo franchise and features characters that have been appearing in games for more than 30 years.
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!
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.