The first game I tackled for the #52GameChallenge was really not intended. As mentioned in my last post, I recently purchased a Wii U. It was a Black Friday bundle deal that came with four(!) games: Nintendoland, Super Mario 3D World, Super Smash Bros., and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. I started with SSB because, well, it was the hottest Nintendo game at the time. Plus, as someone who sucks at fighting games, the SSB franchise is the only one that I've found moderate ability in, so I was very excited to test it out.
But, like always, my gaming ADD kicked in and I found myself wanting more than of a story or a purpose in the game I was playing. After much deliberation, I settled on Tropical Freeze. This wasn't by accident: I was a HUGE DKC fan as a kid. I owned all three DKC titles on the SNES and reached 100% completion I all of them without the use of a guide. I was obsessed with those games, and to this day they are tops on my list of the best gaming soundtracks of all time.
Thus, I booted up DKC: TF to help the Kong family rescue their island from permafrost. Mind you, this was all before I decided to take on the #52GameChallenge, so the decision was made purely out of desire to play, not to fill a quota (which I intend to avoid anyway during this challenge). Regardless, it was a great decision, as I was not only greeted by a wave of nostalgia while playing, but an enjoyable experience from start to finish.
From my childhood memories, Tropical Freeze plays and feels just like DKC games of old, and why not – if it ain't broke, don’t fix it, right? The combination of rolling and jumping platform action is easy to figure out, but just as difficult as ever to master, meaning I experienced quite a lot of falling deaths as I misjudged distances and momentum. Still, the number of cheap-feeling deaths was minimal and overall I learned a lot from my deaths and was able to use them to build a picture of the whole level in my head, which is key to finding all the K-O-N-G and puzzle pieces in each world.
|I appreciate the reference, but Funky Kong is still annoying.|
I enjoyed the game visually as well – each world was vibrant, with background animations giving you a sense that you were on an island that was alive with activity. The beautiful worlds were filled with equally beautiful sound and music, which I’d expect from a DKC game (this soundtrack immediately vaulted to the list of gaming OSTs I listen to regularly).
There were some things I found a bit disheartening about the game, though. One of the biggest was that the game did not allow you to use the Wii U gamepad simultaneously while playing on the television. This seemed a bit odd since almost every game I've experienced on the Wii U allows you to use both at the same time. You did have the option to switch between screens while playing, but it would've been nice to just get up and walk away for a minute without interrupting gameplay.
Lastly, Tropical Freeze did tone down the difficulty severely from what I remember of the SNES titles. Obtaining extra lives (in the form of red balloons) was quite easy and you retained those lives when the game shut off, a departure from the earlier titles. I understand that Nintendo is making gaming more family-friendly (something I love about the gaming giant), so in that context I can understand it. I just wish there was a more challenging mode to use right from the start (you unlock Hard Mode after getting 100% completion).
Overall, I loved my experience with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. For fans of the series, it’ll be a nice jog down memory lane (with a few throwback Easter Eggs hidden in the game to keep you company). For newcomers, it’s a great introduction to the series due to its curbed difficulty. It’s definitely a game that makes me very happy that I finally pulled the trigger and bought a Wii U.
#52GameChallenge Progress: 1/52