Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze Switch Review-The King of Kongs

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Breeze Switch is a port of the 2014 Wii U game of the same name. Aside from making the experience portable, this version adds Funky Mode: a mode where you play as Funky Kong. This addition makes the Switch version of Tropical Freeze the best way to play.

Tropical Freeze tasks our primate protagonists with stopping invading emperor penguins and other animals that freeze the Kong family’s home and their bananas. To do this you’ll travel through multiple different worlds, collecting bananas, balloons, and barrels.  This platformer puts a lot of emphasis on timing and momentum. You always want to try to keep moving. Controls feel tight, and a level never feels unfair, despite its difficulty. Thankfully plentiful continues and power ups allow for a more forgiving journey than the family’s previous outings. Along the way you can collect different Kong family members (Cranky, Diddy, and Dixie) to allow a new attribute to your jump. Cranky will give you a ground spike with his cane, Diddy a hover with his jetpack, and Dixie a slight lift with her twirling hair. In local Co-Op player two can choose one of the three Kongs, allowing the duo to shift depending on the needs of the level. Co-Op is drop in/drop out making it perfect for pick up and play sessions. In addition to the Kongs, players can also find animals such as Rambi the Rhino along the way, to help traverse obstacles and enemies.

Levels are varied, with different worlds carrying different themes. One may be a tropical island, while the other an African desert. Within these worlds are even more varied levels. Perhaps one level is entirely on fire, or another frozen solid. Some levels allow you to pilot vehicles like a miniature rocket. These not only keep the action easy on the eyes, but constantly intrigue players to try one more level to see what lies next. Bosses lie at the end of each world, adding one final challenge. Boss fights are fun platforming spectacles, adding a sense of closure to each world. While the difficulty can be frustrating, careful analysis of pattern and patience will ultimately lead to victory, so I never felt discouraged from trying again. This is especially true in the game’s new Funky Mode.

Funky Mode is Tropical Freeze’s easy mode in which players take control of Funky Kong. Aside from his Bret Hart shades, the funky monkey has extra hearts (five as opposed to Donkey Kong’s two solo), as well as a surfboard that negates spike damage, gives him a double jump, and allows him to hover. Player’s can switch back and forth between Donkey and Funky Kong, though not the classic and Funky modes (meaning if you start a classic campaign and want to play as Funky Kong, you’ll have to start a new file). Also, Funky Kong himself is single player only. If you want to play Co-Op you’ll have to play as Donkey Kong regardless of the mode (though DK in Funky Mode does get increased hearts, similar to Funky).

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for the Nintendo Switch is a defining experience for newcomers to the franchise, and a welcome addition to the series. DK and crew’s icy adventure runs well on Nintendo’s newest console and adds features that make the game more forgiving, while still not alienating players yearning for a challenging yet rewarding gameplay experience. Don’t leave this one out in the cold.

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