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Review

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review - A Blast From The Past

  • First Released Feb 28, 2014
    released
  • Reviewed May 1, 2018
  • NS

King of the frozen jungle.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze arrives on Switch in great shape after four years confined to Wii U, and it's a treat to revisit. It's a straightforward platformer packed with delightful moments, but a steady stream of peril ensures that any fun you're having is underscored by ever-present tension. It doesn't have as much added content as other Wii U-to-Switch ports, but even so, Tropical Freeze is an easy game to recommend.

Retro Studios' second Donkey Kong Country game doesn't deviate too far from the series' familiar foundation. It presents you with six worlds and a handful of levels in each, as well as a bunch of optional challenges that considerably ramp up the difficulty if you're in the mood. You can attempt to beat stages as Donkey Kong alone, but you can also team up with his fellow Kongs: Dixie, Diddy, and Cranky. Riding on DK's back, each sidekick offers a slight advantage that he wouldn't have on his own; Dixie can extend the length and height of jumps, Diddy can hover in place, and Cranky can bounce off of his cane to attack enemies. There's also the option to play with a friend controlling one of the secondary Kongs independently from you. Surprisingly, the coordination required to find success as a pair can make things more difficult than playing alone, despite the extra set of hands.

Regardless of how you play, the Kongs' abilities are dutifully tested by Tropical Freeze's tightly orchestrated gauntlets of obstacles and enemies. There's little room for hesitation, and the emphasis on commitment is one of many factors that makes Tropical Freeze's charming cartoon world so stressful. More often than you'd expect, platforms and structures transform on the fly, and you more or less have to rely on instincts when making blind jumps. Tropical Freeze thrives on keeping you at the edge, where death-defying performances feel like the norm. There's practically always a twist or gimmick waiting to upend your expectations and test your reflexes.

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With enough memorization and muscle memory, you shouldn't have too much difficulty clearing the game's main path in less than ten hours. You can, however, dial up the challenge and longevity quite a bit by making it your goal to find the many collectables scattered throughout each level. There are coins that you can collect to purchase single-use items, but the real hidden prizes are the puzzle pieces and K, O, N, and G letters in every stage--one of the consumable items is built explicitly to help you find them, for example. Finding these will help you unlock bonus content, including extra-difficult stages in each world. These items are often situated in difficult-to-reach corners of levels, but they can also be obscured by environmental structures that you have to move, by either obvious or cleverly disguised means.

Hunting for hidden items is usually manageable in stages where you control the overall pace. However, Tropical Freeze has many levels that scroll automatically, say, with you outrunning a lava flow, flying on the back of a rocket, or tumbling down bumpy tracks in a rickety mine cart. These can be such exacting challenges that you will most likely be too concerned with staying alive to discern a means of collecting that seemingly out-of-reach item that you so often zoom past. Of course, once you have the confidence and knowledge under your sleeve to replay a level without trepidation, the challenge of pushing yourself further than before (in different ways) makes repeat playthroughs just as exciting as the first time around.

The primary addition to Tropical Freeze for Switch is the addition of Funky Kong, a surfer who has a far easier time of things than his relatives. Funky comes with his own mode, and the rule changes therein are significant. Where spikes instantly hurt everyone else, Funky can land on them without taking damage. He can also double jump, swim underwater indefinitely without an air supply, and comes with more than double the health of DK. The only thing he lacks is the ability to team up with others when playing alone, but with all the other advantages, you won't exactly miss them.

Playing as Funky Kong is essentially playing Tropical Freeze on easy mode, but it is also a nice treat if you want to revisit the game under a new lens. Funky is fast and can fly through levels without much hesitation on your part. While there's no doubt plenty of opportunity to speedrun the game as DK, for the less talented or ambitious, Funky can give you a taste of the fast life with little fuss or frustration. It's not a game changing addition, but it's one that mixes up the feel of play in an immediately enjoyable way.

Finally, it's worth noting that Tropical Freeze looks great and plays smoothly on Switch. Docked, the game is beautiful at 60 frames per second at 1080p (it ran at 720p on Wii U), with the vibrantly colored and expressively animated world looking better than ever. Surprisingly (as reported by Eurogamer) Tropical Freeze runs at a sub-720p resolution when played handheld. Truth be told, the downgrade isn't that apparent, likely an effect of the Switch's relatively small screen. Regardless, playing handheld on Switch is a significant improvement from streaming it to the GamePad's 480p screen from your Wii U, leaving no question that this is the definitive version.

Tropical Freeze isn't a heavy-hitter from Nintendo in the same way Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey are, but it's a fantastic platformer that's bursting with creativity and expertly designed challenges. It's tuned just right--always tough but rarely frustrating--to ensure that even the most common moments feel great. If you missed out when the game first debuted back in 2014, give it a shot today. It easily stands the test of time.

Back To Top
The Good
Demanding platforming that tests you in a variety of ways
A constant stream of creative ideas keeps things fresh from beginning to end
Funky Kong is a great addition that serves novice and experienced players in different ways
Whether playing handheld or docked, Tropical Freeze looks better than ever
The Bad
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

About the Author

Peter completed Tropical Freeze as Donkey Kong and surfed through a couple worlds as Funky Kong before writing his review. Nintendo provided GameSpot with a complimentary copy of the game.
143 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for alexfromnorway
AlexfromNorway

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Looks like they got a real gamer to review the game this time. on Wii U - gamespot gave it a 6.. :P

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y_m_o_

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Whenever I move to each powerup, I can't get it out my head that Funky is saying 'Oh pish off' lol

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Master_Overlord

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another kids platformer

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YearoftheSnake5

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9 is what the game should have got back in the day. Tropical Freeze is my favorite game on the Wii U. It's a fantastic game that is tough, but fair. I'm glad it's getting a second chance on the Switch. The difference in review scores goes to show how much the reviewer matters. The last one didn't like it, this one does.

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so_hai

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I bought the game, and I like it, but it's a bit different to what I expected. I think it plays a lot like a Rayman game, and doesn't feel as snappy as the other DKC games.

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swimbearuk

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I realised this game wasn't for me about half way through the video of the first level. It looks really boring. There's no way I'm watching 40 minutes of gameplay.

As for the score. They say it has a lack of content, yet they still give it a 9. So it's another game for switch which I will play for a few days (at most) before shelving forever. I'll save my cash instead.

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ConsoleHaven

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@swimbearuk: It really depends on how much you enjoy platformers. It's on the same level as the best Marios out there. I loved both games and while I was disappointed Retro was stuck making a Donkey Kong game, it really is worth a look.

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Lance182145231

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Edited By Lance182145231

Whether you agree with this review or not I think the fact that this review and the Wii U differ so much even with the fact that it was done by two different reviewers I still can’t help but question the ethics and integrity of the reviewers . Some people allude to the fact that the Wii U review was the true review because Nintendo didn’t pay them off but I think it’s more the other way around. After reading the last review the fact that the guy harped on how hard it was in spite of the fact games in this series are normally that way tells me that this site did that because they weren’t paid off they gave Nintendo a shit review even though less corporate reviewers with less to gain gave them better reviews. In spite of which review you believe you must admit it is at least questionable as to why now they have a 9 rather than a 6 did Nintendo pay them off this time is the switch so big and popular now that they are afraid to tell the truth or at least shit on them like they did before. I don’t know but if you’re asking me there may be more to it then it just being two different reviewers with two different opinions.

Though all that being said maybe it is just the fact that it was just two different guys and I’m the one that’s full of shit lol. Either way that’s just my opinion and it bugs me.

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AlexfromNorway

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@lance182145231:

People should just stop with this "nintendo paid them off" mentality.. It simply isn't true.

What might happen however, is that Pro review sites like this, are influenced by a certain console's success, and might be somewhat afraid to voice their honest opinion, for fear of being verbally lynched by the masses..

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Lance182145231

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Edited By Lance182145231

@alexfromnorway: that’s also a possibility though i wasn’t saying it was nintendo just nintendo paying them off but other consoles and developers too that’s what i’m worried about if there is a possibility that is at least partially what happened also you gotta admit even if the they are afraid thing is true it’s still dishonest not to publish the truth which ever case it might be true in

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juninhotorres

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gosh, the no-negatives nonsense again. functional illiteracy seems to be a thing here, eh?

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ColdPasta

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@juninhotorres: Mind listing some yourself then?

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juninhotorres

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Edited By juninhotorres

@coldpasta: list what exactly?

according to Gamesport themselves (it's not that difficult to understand, really):

What makes a game a 10, and has that definition changed over the years? Does a 10 mean it's "perfect"?

A 10 does not mean a game is perfect, but it does mean that it's a game we believe everyone should play. In my opinion, no game can be considered perfect. That means you may see a game getting a 10 despite having issues. It also means that games without obvious flaws may be scored below 10.

On the rare occasion when we publish a 10 review, that is our way of saying that no matter you preference for genre, developer, setting, or console, you owe it to yourself to find a way to play the game in question.

source:

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/gamespots-complete-list-of-1010-reviews-and-how-th/1100-6422955/

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EricShadow366

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Different Reviewer...4 Years went by since the Wii U release....Peoples tastes have changed.

The Score is just a number. Move along.

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adkcrazox

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I can’t wait to pick it up at Best-Buy.

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nickfitz_99

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Edited By nickfitz_99

Dont tell me the hearts are the HP of DK and the others ? What happened to one touch kills ?

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so_hai

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Edited By so_hai

@nickfitz_99: They changed it a bit. When you get a barrel with another Kong, that Kong rides on your back and sort of gives you a power-up. So I guess their health stacks on top of yours? Prefer the classic system myself.

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Jimminyfixit

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If there's nothing bad about the game then you should give it a 10! You did the same thing for the God of War review.

Be brave, give it a 10!

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deactivated-5b19214ec908b

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@Jimminyfixit: so if a game is simply ok in all regards it should get a 10?

Do you honestly expect him to put something like "the graphics are good but not great" in the bad category?

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Jimminyfixit

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@toast_burner: That makes no sense! You don't give a mediocre game a 9 because it's simply not bad! If the game is simply mediocre on all parts then it should get a 7 but it didn't, it got a 9 with no bad points. It's a lazy review!

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gamingdevil800

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Edited By gamingdevil800

@Jimminyfixit: If Peter Brown had rated this higher than God Of War then he could have been able to seriously consider a career in comedy.

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greaseman1985

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@gamingdevil800: That's not how reviews work. The score is just a number, and one game's score has no relation to another game's score in totally different genres.

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greaseman1985

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@og_gamerzzz: You're making no sense, and I said nothing about the quality of Nintendo games.

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el_marto2003

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This game was a 9 when it was a 6 on wii u (arguably the outlier among what were positive reviews for this game... the reviewer said it was too hard.. lol). This is the second best dkc after dkc2 and has one of the most underrated soundtracks I've ever heard (Dave wise... same guy from the first two dkcs), the music alone makes this game much better than what it already is. If you have a Switch and missed this one on the Wii U... buy it, don't even think about it. It's 100% worth it.

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so_hai

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When the game got a 6, it's "lol Nintendo" and "Nintendoomed" etc.
When the game get's a 9, it's "Switch effect" and "Magic" etc.

This reveals a deep antagonism against a company expressing itself in review comments. Interesting.

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Koalition

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@so_hai: Hating Nintendo is the popular thing. Whenever a Nintendo game scores high, everyone throws the words fanboy and nostalgia around like it’s nothing.

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rhenom

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My only problem with this game is that Nintendo is charging $60 for a Wii U port, even with upgraded graphics and an extra playable character that price is ridiculous.

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so_hai

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Edited By so_hai

@rhenom: They wouldn't bother re-releasing it all if they couldn't charge a premium.

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The_Dragon_Born

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This is the game that nearly made me regret giving Wii u away. Now everything is right...well it is a little overpriced for a rerelease though

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cmoney408

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i got excited when i heard a donkey kong was coming out for the switch. but then....

1) i found out it was just another re-release from the wii u. nintendo is really trying to recoup their development costs from that system. not sure if you can classify it as a nostalgia release. if thats what they are going for, release some of the banger n64 games.

2) it is supposed to cost $60, thats 10 more then the original release price

3) it looks just ok, looks about equivalent to a $10 mobile game

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so_hai

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@cmoney408: The Wii U game looked like a $10 mobile game?

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cmoney408

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@so_hai: yeah. when you look at whats available on android and iphone for free to $10..... donkey kong doesnt look far off. if someone showed me the gameplay and said it was on a cell phone, i wouldn't be shocked. i'll put it that way. at least from the gameplay footage i saw on youtube, and i think i was watching gameplay from the switch.

i mean. if it goes on sale for like $20 to $30 i will probably buy it to try it.

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ColdPasta

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@cmoney408: Why do you morons talk shit about the gameplay without even playing it? You look like fucking idiots doing so.

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so_hai

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Edited By so_hai

@coldpasta: Are you calling me a moron" Where did I talk about the game play at all?

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sakaiXx

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We know u trying to make the god of war no negative review a normal thing but atleast do it on a better game. I dont buy a 6 score somehow turning a 9. Oh well its nintendo, only them can get away with ports and nostalgia.

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ColdPasta

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@sakaixx: It's a different reviewer you goddamn moron. I'm pretty sure the original score of 6 was a horrible outlier as well.

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MichelleBennet

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Edited By MichelleBennet

Wii U Version = 6.0

Switch Version = 9.0

Which clearly evidences that many websites give high scores to games on popular or best selling consoles, and bad notes to games on lower selling consoles

That's why PS4 exclusives receive overrated 10s scores because is Playstation ahd PS4 is selling well,

while Xbox exclusives receive underrated notes on great games, just because is not selling as much.

Conclusion:

Don't trust on Videogame reviewers. watch gameplay videos, make your own judgment, and buy the games you like. Not what 100 reviewers say is great or bad.

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PrimusTool

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@michellebennet: I tend to agree. With youtube the need for video game critics feels kind of irrelevant today. I was making a similar point about Skyrim VR. If you can put up with the sub par graphics, get used to the learning curve, and you aren't prone to motion sickness is going to be one of the best games you play this year. If not you may hate it and give it a 6/10. It ends up bringing down the average score and people wonder why the lowest reviewed verision of Skyrim on metacritic is actually some people's favorite version of the game, myself included.

It's nice to have them around in case something is completely buggy like Tony Hawk 5 though.

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JustPlainLucas

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@michellebennet: Wii U was a failing console when GameSpot gave Bayonetta 2 a 10. So clearly, the Switch being a successful console is NOT the reason why the port of Donkey Kong got a 9. It was because it was done by a different reviewer. I have an example for you.

Trine 2 for Xbox 360 and PS3 was reviewed and given an 8.5 by Jane Douglas who no longer worked at GS when it was ported to the Wii U. Carolyn Petit gave the Wii U port a 6.5. She was not as impressed with it as Jane was. This illustrates clearly that reviewers are not automatons. People need to take that into consideration when reading reviews. That's why there's not just one gaming websites. There are many.

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Angryduck67

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@michellebennet: The Wii U review was done by a different person, Wii U games were not underrated critically by this site at all.

And from someone who has played this game alot on the Wii U, a 6 is just about right. The levels are ludicrously long and the level design feels almost random. Nothing flows into the next thing in an intuitive way, and limited lives are not needed or asked for at this point in video games.

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MichelleBennet

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@Angryduck67: So the game is a mess in Wii U, but the same game is magically amazing on Switch....

Makes sense... right?

"The Wii U review was done by a different person" This is supposed to be a serious and professional gaming site, not a forum of random independent reviewers who contradict themselves. Proper reviews must be done by a group of reviewers, not just one individual.

And let me tell you: This same situation happened in more than 10 gaming websites, where they rated DK and Mario Kart 8 lower on WII U but higher on Switch.

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ginxeno

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Edited By ginxeno

@michellebennet: it make sense when you add "different reviewer"

i've played sonic on my SEGA genesis many years ago and didn't like it (i was more of a mario guy)

and now my kids play sonic mania on the switch (comparable) and also other sonic games on the phone and they loved it so much

this is the same case on gamespot, people have different opinions, doesn't have to bothered you that much when people has different opinions

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Muddrox

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Edited By Muddrox

@michellebennet: According to your logic, all of Gamespot's staff must have the same opinion about any video game that is reviewed here. I hope you realize how ridiculous that sounds.

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VBlake73

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@og_gamerzzz: Not even the most brain-dead of Ponies could be this dumb. It's not possible.

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Muddrox

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@og_gamerzzz: let’s get real here, the fact that you feel the need to communicate through edgy comebacks is childish. Not saying that I’m siding with vblake73 but your comment is just and childish as his.

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Ride_Tha_Tiger

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Another Gamespot review of 9 without any negative feedback in the scoring section - reminds me of God of War. At least say it’s lacking enough content to warrant a 10. That’s what you alluded to in your piece, so why is it so hard to translate that into a bullet point? It would justify your score.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze More Info

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  • First Released Feb 28, 2014
    released
    • Nintendo Switch
    • Wii U
    Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has players help Donkey Kong and his friends get back their home from Vikings.
    9
    Average Rating318 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
    Developed by:
    Retro Studios
    Published by:
    Nintendo
    Genre(s):
    Action, 2D, Platformer
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    Mild Cartoon Violence