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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Is Platforming Perfection

DKC

Four years after its initial release on the Wii U, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has arrived on Nintendo’s far more beloved console, the Switch. If you somehow missed out on one of the best platforming games of the decade, but you’ve now got the hardware to enjoy it in its finest iteration, you’d have to be absolutely bananas to pass on this game.

Featuring an eye-popping full 1080p upgrade from the original game’s still-very-attractive 720p resolution, Tropical Freeze’s gorgeous and diverse levels have never looked better, boasting more details than ever, with our characters moving with more fluidity. In essence, everything looks more refined, even if you opt to play in handheld mode, which is a little less comfy than using the Pro Controller.

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Speaking of handheld mode, this is one of the most brutal platformers around, so you might want to play in a private space, lest people hear you swearing like a sailor at the sheer frustration of losing life after life during one of those absolutely brutal barrel-rocket stages. But man does it feel good when you finally get past a seemingly impossible obstacle. That’s such an old-school thrill many games no longer provide.

However, if you’re not entirely up for the challenge, which admittedly isn’t for everyone, the optional Funky Mode offers a much less insane level of difficulty that’s still not too forgiving. So what’s different? For starters, you can now take control of Funky Kong (or classic DK, if you so choose), who was previously unplayable in the previous version of the game. Funky can roll forever, double-jump, and even dramatically slow his fall by twirling his surfboard like a propeller (a la Dixie Kong’s helicopter pigtails, but even slower). More important is that he comes with five hearts (instead of three) and can stand still on spikes without dying instantly. Lastly, he’s an independent dude, and won’t require assistance from Dixie, Diddy, or Cranky (as if anyone needs assistance from Cranky).

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As for overall gameplay, it’s still just as precise as before, making clearing some of the harder levels just a little more conceivable. Boss battles are always a challenge, but, like the majority of the game, they never come across as cheap. You’re just not playing well enough, kid.

Seriously, don’t let the innocuous visuals fool you; this is one of the toughest Nintendo games since the punishing NES days. Mercifully, you don’t have to start at the very beginning when the game over screen appears, and you’ll probably rack up loads of lives collecting bananas along the way. You’re gonna need ‘em.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is out Friday, May 4 exclusively on Nintendo Switch. Check out the gameplay trailer below.