Parents need to know that “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze” is a cartoonish platformer on 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. 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’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. This mode can make it more accessible to younger players or newcomers.
IS IT ANY GOOD?
“Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze” 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 onscreen into collectible items.
The Nintendo Switch version of ‘Tropical Freeze” adds in a new Funky Kong mode, making 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. Overall, “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze” may be too challenging for some younger players, but there’s little doubt skilled and experienced gamers will find this a fun, polished, and replayable adventure.
RATING AND CONTENT
Recommended for ages 10 and older
Quality: 4 out of 5
Educational value: 2 out of 5
Positive messages: 2 out of 5
Positive role models: 2 out of 5
Ease of play: 3 out of 5
Violence: 2 out of 5
Sex: 0 out of 5
Language: 0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 0 out of 5
Consumerism: 1 out of 5
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii U
Release date: May 4, 2018
ESRB rating: E for mild cartoon violence