Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the latest Nintendo Wii U game to make the leap to the Nintendo Switch. Like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Pokken Tournament DX, this is a situation where the original game gets these improvements that not only make it look and play a little better, but extra content is added. While previous games added content that was designed to increase the lifespan and give people more to do, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is more about making sure everyone who picks up the game is able to enjoy it.
First, let’s go over the more general improvements. The load times are reduced, so there is barely a pause when going from levels to the world map. Frame rates are consistent whether it is docked or undocked, keeping the experience smooth. If you have it docked, it will run at 1080p resolution. This means Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze pops on the Nintendo Switch. It is the sort of game that has rich environments that feel alive, with detailed enemies that exhibit all sorts of personality as they attempt to obliterate the various Kongs. And, even if it is not docked and looking its best, being able to take it anywhere in Handheld or Tabletop Mode is another boon. It lets you take a great Donkey Kong Country installment with you everywhere.
This is also a version of the game that is even easier to enjoy with a second player. There are multiple controller options, involving both Joy-Cons and Pro Controllers. All save files are compatible with multiplayer, even Funky Mode. It is easy to have someone drop in or out of a game. You just head to Options and choose Add / Drop to bring a second player into the game. In standard mode, you have DK as the player one character and Cranky, Diddy or Dixie as player two, while Funky Mode offers DK or Funky as player one and Cranky, Diddy or Dixie as player two. I had my cousin aid me in my testing, and the Joy-Cons were a very plausible way to play on the go. Though, I did feel like I was better at nailing more demanding levels when using the Pro Controller, due to my preferring that option in general.
The inclusion of Funky Kong and Funky Mode are both what really makes Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze the most welcoming entry in the Donkey Kong Country series. Together, they work to help people learn how to play the game so later, when they come to Original or Hard Mode, they will not find themselves dismissing this title out of frustration. Funky Mode is its own difficulty level with both DK and Funky as playable characters. More hearts appear in levels, and I tended to find them in spaces where they were a lot of enemies or close shave sections. When you head to Funky’s Shop, the items Tawks sells are less expensive as a result of an “employee discount.” Usually, you need to collect all KONG letters in a single run for it to count, but here it saves them for you. And, if you come across one of those levels that feels to difficult to beat, maybe one with a mine cart, you can take advantage of a skip level option. If someone uses DK in those mode, it can feel like more of a learning experience where you can understand level layouts and work on timing before heading into Original Mode. Especially since he has an extra heart here.
With Funky, it is like the game becomes extra considerate. Because even though he is an easy mode character, it is not like he is making things too easy. He has double jumps, yes, but there are still plenty of levels and situations where you have to have that timing right to accomplish goals and make it through. You can slow his descent after jumping, but it is not some miraculous save. Rather, it can help you buy a little bit of extra time in the event of a moving enemy or platform not being in exactly the right place when you are about to land. Swimming is still difficult, even though you have infinite corkscrews and can breathe underwater, as the enemies and hazards are still in the same places. And having infinite rolls is not always an easy win, since you still have to work out the timing for each one. While he can land on some spikes without taking damage, the key word in his description is “some,” as the game still encourages you to be safe and not just leap into danger. He is a character to use on a first run if someone has never played a Donkey Kong Country game before. Or if you have someone playing who is easily frustrated by demanding platformers, Funky can help them learn to deal with them and become a better player.
The Donkey Kong Country series has always offered these incredible platformers that test people. They can demand perfect reflexes and require muscle memory moves. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was another great entry in the series on the Nintendo Wii U. Now that it is on the Nintendo Switch, it perfects the experience in a few ways. It makes the game look better, naturally. It lets people easily bring a second player into or let them out of a game. But most importantly, it offers these extra options to make the game more enjoyable for people who are not as familiar with the experience. Funky Mode lets people play as the more forgiving Funky or standard DK in a version of the game that keeps the levels and enemy placement the same, but allows people a little more leeway when it comes to making mistakes.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is available on the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Wii U.