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Review

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review

  • First Released Feb 28, 2014
    released
  • Reviewed Feb 17, 2014
  • WIIU

Frozen in time.

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There's something about Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze that's just a little off. Maybe it's the way Donkey Kong doesn't quite land with the firm-footedness you'd expect from a Nintendo platforming mascot. Maybe it's because, despite the introduction of the likes of Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong as playable characters with new abilities, Tropical Freeze's levels see little in the way of new challenges or designs to accommodate them. Or maybe, just maybe, it's because--despite some fun moments--this is one of the least exciting platformers I've played in some time.

The problem lies with Tropical Freeze's reluctance to stray too far from the formula of its predecessor--or indeed, many a '90s platformer--without maintaining the same levels of quality, and without adding anything meaningful along the way. When we're spoilt with the likes of Rayman: Legends and Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U, Tropical Freeze feels like a step back in time--and not in the good, retro-chic kind of way. None of its levels are bad, but while its competitors mix up elegant puzzles, platforming challenges, and clever new ideas to great effect, here your journey gets very familiar, very quickly.

No Caption Provided

In the first level, you leap over a few easy platforms, and maybe bash a few baddies on the head. In the next, you might bounce on some sprung platforms to reach some taller ones, or climb some vines to do the same. Later, you might even get a few zip lines loosely slung over some bottomless pits of death. Then the game starts to repeat itself. Sure, the backdrops change, and some jumps become trickier than others, but the mostly unimaginative level design doesn't mix those ideas up in new or interesting ways.

No Caption Provided

It's all a bit stop and start. Platforms and enemies are laid out in odd ways, making it difficult to establish the sort of smooth, free-flowing rhythm that makes the best 2D platformers such a blast. For instance, you might be leaping across a level, picking up a good rhythm between jumps, before being stopped by a set of collapsing stone walls. In a good platformer like Tropical Freeze's predecessor, those walls would be timed to fall in rhythm with previous jumps and obstacles, letting you zip past them quickly, and make you feel like a platforming pro. But here, no matter how you approach those walls, you're stopped dead in your tracks, making you lose your rhythm.

Dixie Kong's ability to make DK float and jump a little higher, Cranky Kong's ability to give DK a bigger bounce, and Diddy Kong's jetpack are nice additions to the formula, but the mundane level design fails to make much of their new powers and offer up a different challenge. Only the levels unlocked by collecting all of the hidden KONG and puzzle pieces do better.

There are some cheap tricks used along the way too. Thankfully, they're rare, but when they do appear, it's frustrating. Sometimes I'd perform a leap of faith during a particularly tricky section, only to land on an enemy on the other side that had lurked just out of shot. Other times I'd be racing down a zip line, only to find that the visual cues for jumps, like well-placed bananas and coins, were all too easy to miss, causing me to plummet to my death. It's a shame that you can't have the game show you the best path like in Donkey Kong Country Returns; it's very much a process of trial and error when it comes to surviving some of Tropical Freeze's cheaper tricks. Extra lives are plentiful, though, and if you get stuck, you can always purchase more using coins you collect along the way.

No Caption Provided

Tropical Freeze's vehicle sections fare much better than its standard levels, and help to break up some of the more monotonous moments of DK's adventure. Whether it's riding on the back of Rambi the Rhino and carefully guiding him through destructible blocks and rows of enemies, or zipping through the air on the back of a rocket-powered barrel, these sections are fast-paced and nicely challenging too. Trying to keep the barrel afloat long enough to dodge obstacles and collect bananas is a great bit of twitch gaming, as are later sections where you guide a speeding mine cart along some wobbly-looking tracks.

Boss battles are similarly good fun, thanks to some interesting-looking characters that aren't your usual three-hits-to-kill type of opponent. A battle against a giant owl has you dodging ice balls and throwing bashed baby owls before you're whisked up in the air to dodge projectiles against a mighty storm. Another has you fighting a trio of bomb-throwing monkeys, ducking, rolling, and jumping across the level to avoid their spinning hammer attacks, while also trying to pick up their bombs and hurl them straight back at them.

This is one of the least exciting platformers I've played in some time.

Tropical Freeze can get challenging and feel unfair when you're sent back to the beginning of a long, multistage boss battle, just because of a less-than-forgiving checkpoint system. Practice the patterns, though, and you'll make it through alive. Battles are also easier if you grab a friend and indulge in two-player co-op. While the game doesn't make clever use of the additional player, you'll appreciate the extra help during particularly tough bosses: just make sure you've got plenty of extra lives stocked up.

If the regular levels were as inventive as the boss battles, then Tropical Freeze would be a surefire hit, or at least a game that demands more of your attention. No matter how much I was looking forward to seeing DK in HD, it's difficult to maintain that enthusiasm when the end product plays it so safe: even the visuals fail to make an impact. They're nice enough, but like the level design, the environments are mostly bland. While you could argue that the visual style is true to the series, I think even traditionalists wouldn't mind something with a little more pizzazz behind it. As it stands, this a sometimes fun but mostly uninspired and unimaginative entry in the Donkey Kong series.

Back To Top
The Good
Exciting and challenging boss battles
Vehicle sections help to break up the more monotonous moments
The Bad
Dull, derivative level design
Employs some cheap and frustrating platforming tricks
Harsh checkpoints during boss battles
6
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

About the Author

Mark spent his Christmas break ignoring relatives and loved ones, and instead tried to earn a Platinum Trophy in Rayman: Legends. Suffice it to say, he loves a good platformer. For the purposes of this review, Mark made his way to the end of Tropical Freeze, but didn't manage to pick up all the puzzle pieces along the way.
1935 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.

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Jibroni

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Edited By Jibroni

I agree with this review. I bought it and I do feel its pretty bland.

The visuals are decent but nothing you havent seen before. Still a fun game for kids.

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madsnakehhh

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Seriously, this is one of the worst GS reviews I have seen...How can you even say with a straight face that the game looks bland and then hide the amazing art style in the shadow levels... worst of all, you can see the colorful and bright levels though the entire video. I mean did the reviewer complained about the lack of checkpoints on a Boss Battle? Son, please stay away from Dark Souls... You know what...stay away from videogames... You will be disappointed in life. Anyway, I could pick apart this half written review, but all I'm going to say is this. Tropical Freeze is arguably the best DKC game since Diddy's Kong Quest. A must buy for every WiiU and Switch owner, don't let a terrible review fools you by making you think this is only a "fair" game.

2 • 
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KenoMachino

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Edited By KenoMachino

Welp, I just created this account just so that I could comment on this review. This review is... ridiculous, bullshit. The cons listed at the end are just completely false - maybe the checkpoints, but so what? It's challenging. Get gud. That's how games used to be.

Derivative?? Dull level design? Bland!? Are you blind? Were you going through a bad breakup while playing this and reviewing it, and just projecting your feelings into this review? I just don't know how to understand giving it a 6/10. It's fucking absurd. The game is *objectively* amazing, creative to a whole new degree, fun, full of secrets, amazing boss battles, hilarious levels that are beautiful and full of active backgrounds and foregrounds.

I just... look up ANY other review of this game, and/or play it yourselves, and you'll see this is one review that just doesn't add up.

3 • 
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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

That said, this game's easy - as long as the player has the stubbornness to do rote things like memorize level layouts.

The game's hardly a test of one's skill. Anyone with brute determination to practice over and over can ace this game.

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

Do remember that Shigeru Miyamoto slammed the seminal Donkey Kong side-scroller platformer in an interview with Electronic Games in 1995, saying "Donkey Kong Country proves that players will put up with mediocre gameplay as long as the art is good."

And yes, I know that Miyamoto denied it in an interview with IGN, but that is, of course, many years later, when any bad relation with once-Rare had been bygones. That said, people had been digging up the facts, but there has yet to be anything that disprove that quote. In fact, there is the interviewer who reiterated that quote in a 2004 video.

The lot of you have rose-tinted glasses really - and very thick ones too, considering that Nintendo has made far superior 2D platformers, namely the ones with the was-plumber in them.

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Abdulrahman1981

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Edited By Abdulrahman1981

This game deserves at least 9 out of 10, awful review. I think the editor played something else and got confused

2 • 
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deactivated-5c1d0901c2aec

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The level design in this game is excellent. Here is some really detailed and in depth analysis' into the level design that does a far better job at breaking down the clever design in this game than Mark Walton who failed to notice/ didn't give the game credit for the sheer number of ideas and thematic consistencies that are introduced in each level of this game.

Much better source

Do you even level design?

2 • 
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RomeoTheBeast

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I know this review is old...but this review is just plain disgusting... for anyone who might happen to stumble upon this review...give the game a chance yourself... look for other reviews...videos online etc... I had a ton of fun with this game... the Graphics...level design...multiple characters to choose from... the secrets make this a must own. Beating it 100% will feel so damn good... There should honestly be a second review for this game

7 • 
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DrToadigerr

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This review still never fails to make me chuckle. "Bland" is so far from the truth about this game. Like, not even based on opinion. It is objectively vibrant. You couldn't recreate any of these levels with a game like Super Mario Maker. It's far too complex, and shows how much each level was individually crafted. I can't believe somebody who calls themselves an objective reviewer could come up with this nonsense. Disliking the gameplay or difficulty is one thing, but it's just plain inaccurate to say this game is dull in design, and I'd almost say it's unfair to have a review like this floating around on what many believe to be a trusted site.

5 • 
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Itzsfo0

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This game is easily 8/10...I know thats opinion but...I think this game (ironically enough the games GS give 10/10 usually don't deserve it...games that get 5/10 or 6/10...end up being the games I usually enjoy MORE ...and thats not b/c I wanna be some hipster and like "the alternative" or "whats underrated/poorly reviewed" but really if you look at alot of the other sites...reviews, and overall acclaim DK: TF has done well...and many consider it the best platformer of 2014...and literally one of the best in recent years...and considering that there's alot of platformers that have been released in recent years...that says something

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trugs26

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To me it's a solid 9/10, but to each their own.

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mite000

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I only just heard about this review, and even though its been a long time I still felt the need to say something.

It blows my mind that the editor let this review pass. It would be one thing if people were complaining about it getting an 8 when they think it deserves a 9. That sort of thing is arbitrary. But this game is objectively not a 6/10, and anyone worth their salt as a reviewer would be able to see that in 2 seconds.

Gamespot should be ashamed of allowing the potential of shifting their readers opinions so ridiculously off base. Please, if you have any interest in side scrolling platformers, and don't mind a challenge, play this game. Don't let this terrible review steer you away from one of the best examples of the genre in years.

3 • 
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vetar1

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This is and Yoshi Wolly World are one of the worst reviews ever. Both games are easily 8.

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juiceair

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Edited By juiceair

So basically the game is too tough for the reviewer so he resorts to calling it dumb and cheap...hahahahahhaaa!!!! Just stop playing games altogether if you can't handle a challenge.

2 • 
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wade22fan

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This is very undeserving of a 6/10. It is more like a 9/10.

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ConsoleHaven

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This is more of an opinion piece than a competent review. DKC Tropical Freeze is challenging and will make you a better platformer. It's a shame that lower scores impact sales of games. Don't be fooled here. If you enjoyed the first game, you'll really love this one.

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malachi_27

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I really want to play this game, but admittedly dislike Returns. Having 102%-ed DKC2 two summers ago and recently 103%-ed DKC3 two weeks ago, I simply had no fun with Returns, and DKC3 was quite frankly boring, cheap, and not very hard.


Returns' level design seemed really generic and the some of the hidden puzzle pieces were absurd to find. Is this game different?

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ConsoleHaven

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Edited By ConsoleHaven

@malachi_27: I personally really loved DKC returns. I thought DKC was better, but that was more nostalgia talking. Tropical Freeze does feel very familiar, but it's more challenging than DKCR and the level designs are amazing. One of the ones with an African vibe has such an excellent musical score that slowly builds to a crescendo as you approach the end. Finding the puzzle pieces for me has never been too much of an issue, so that really is a matter of preference.

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alph42

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I'm still baffled by why gamespot gave one of the best platformers in decades such a poor review. Nothing this reviewer said accurately describes the expertly crafted level design present in Tropical Freeze. I can only assume the reviewer was either incompetent at the game or searching for attention.

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LOZMA

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You sir Walton, are the most frozen of hearts!

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Pikminmaniac

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Edited By Pikminmaniac

giving praise to a platformer like Puppeteer and bashing Tropical Freeze? So gamespot is all flash and no substance? DK does right what Puppeteer got very wrong; excellent level design and tight gameplay.


Seriously though, Tropical Freeze is easily one of the most finely crafted pieces of gaming ever created. Talent of this caliber is essentially non existent in this medium and should be praised endlessly. It's hard not to consider this game the very best the entire genre has to offer.

5 • 
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Bread_or_Decide

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@Pikminmaniac For gamespot it's all about presentation and concept. I'm sure if Tropical Freeze mimicked a puppet theater maybe it would have gotten a better score.

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jaminator45

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Edited By jaminator45

Having recently completed this game I have to say i havent disagreed more with a review from this site in years. This is a beautifully crafted game.


Is it hard? Hell yes be prepared to die....a lot.


But the levels are brilliantly designed and they get a lot of wow out of this underpowered console with some beautifully designed levels, THere are a couple of times when i was on a level and just thought WOW this looks great. Too bad they missed the mark so badly on this review.

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Cody_Orvik

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Sounds like this reviewer isn't too great at donkey kong, and needs some help on the trickier sections. ;)

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jar155

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I rarely comment on reviews, and when I do it's even more rare that I complain about it. I just can't get over this one. The complaint about the level design is just wrong. If someone claims to enjoy platformers, you would expect them to be better informed than the reviewer is here. How he can claim that DKC: TF has "Dull, derivative level design" is a mystery to me. Derivative of what? I'd like to hear, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for examples, because I imagine they're hard to come by.


Again, I rarely comment on reviews, but I couldn't let this one slide when clearly something was so terribly off here. Awful review.

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weakan

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biggest belony ivé heard in a while in GT review-_-

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Jareth84

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Edited By Jareth84

The reviewer's got this badly wrong. The first time I played Tropical Freeze I did find it a bit disappointing, but returning to it several months later after seeing Destructoid's 10/10 review, I was blown away. The game's an absolute joy to play - a masterpiece. A level such as Grassland Groove represents the very finest things video games can do - it's actually a moving experience with your earphones in listening to David Wise's remarkable soundtrack as you scale through the level. So whilst this reviewer is entitled to his opinion, he's very wrong. Tropical Freeze is a masterpiece and one of the best games of 2014. 10/10.

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Ezioprez9709

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''Harsh checkpoints during boss battles.''


This is a Donkey Kong game.

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SloganYams

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It will always baffle me how so many people rave and rave about the pretty but ultimately shallow Rayman platformers, then write off the stunning imaginative design and brilliant platforming of Donkey Kong. This is the best sidescrolling platformer of the last ten years.

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Itzsfo0

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@SloganYams: I actually REALLY really enjoy Rayman Legends and Rayman Origins (I saw those games as having great level design and decent imagination) again thats opinion but whats baffling ? I do AGREE however this game is awesome, highly underrated and one of the best in recent years (easily) though its not Super Meat Boy...its great (then again those are 2 very different platformers...but I've been hearing alot of great stuff about DK:TF before its release and during post-release before I scooped it up) I am just now playing it (its been a year since you made this post) I'm about 75% complete...and I am loving it...but I have to say...I still enjoy Rayman (the last 2 titles especially)...so I guess to each their own.

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zatech

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For the REAL review go to IGN.com

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R4gn4r0k

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@zatech For the real review play the game yourself :)

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RickJGoldberg93

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Edited By RickJGoldberg93

I am very critical and picky myself, and thus generally agree with GameSpot, but honestly I must incline to disagree here. While the game is rather difficult and less smooth than traditional platformers such as Super Mario Bros. or Rayman; this incarnation of the Donkey Kong Country series was purposely made to be hard and clunky to a degree in which speed running is less realistic (but not impossible) and one has to be more methodical in order to get passed to later levels. From a less skilled gamer's point of view the difficulty may catch you off guard but, to call "tricky" or "hard" a design flaw is really an insult to those who enjoy such a challenge. Furthermore the trial and error aspect of the game is not all that new, just more prevalent due to the increased difficulty level of the game. Moving on, I was satisfied with the level design graphically and really don't see what the issue is there, and the clause reguarding the lack of capitalizing on the new featuees and characters is somewhat misleading. The idea behind the new Kongs is to offer a variety and sometimes a strategic playstyle, which it does successfully. Swimming and 3D barrel launching are little things to keep things fresh, and my favorite feature, the enemies have definitely been improved to me more dangerous instead of easy targets.

All in all I liked the game. It's too bad for Mark didn't like this game, but everyone has a right to an opinion. I look foward to more reviews anyway. Always a pleasure.

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polishkid99

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So you gave it a bad score because you found the mechanics of the game too difficult?


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Oloryn

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Picked this up and have been having a blast with it. The graphics are phenomenal and vibrant, the action is wonderfully paced with great moments of intensity and adventure, and special mention should be made for the absolute masterpiece of a soundtrack in this game, from the same composer of the SNES games, it captures a sense of nostalgia while paving it's own way into musical greatness.

I'm not saying Mark doesn't justify or believe in his 6, I'm just saying that as a fan of platformers myself, I didn't think the game was anywhere near as bad as a 6, but more like an 8-8.5, and if you think you'd enjoy the game, it's worth the price of admission, because you probably will.

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Mister_F15

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'I think even traditionalists wouldn't mind something with a little more pizzazz about it.'

How can you know what traditionalists want if you're obviously not one of them?

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tthreat23

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You guys need better internal editing. This should never happen:

"Or maybe, just maybe, it's because--despite some fun moments--this is one of the least exciting platformers I've played in some time." -Mark Walton


"Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze contains some of the most masterful, varied, and downright exciting levels that I have ever seen." -Tom McShae. A month later, on this site. Yes, I know that opinions are going to vary, but your reviewers have to be consistent. Mark Walton should have to redo this review. He clearly has no idea what he was reviewing.

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blkgsr

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Opinions are like @ssholes everyone got them but after playing this game its a solid 8-8.5. But I've noticed gamespot been giving lower scores than most lately.

2 • 
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hochstreck

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Finally, after having played the game myself excessively, I have to say that this review is largely misleading.

You just can't say a game design is flawed, just because it requires you to play with brain and attention.

I also don't understand what the reviewer means by "uninspired Lvl-Design", as this game offers quite entertaining, varied, recognizeable and polished stage-designs. Only Mario Games, some Action-Plattformers, created by Konami and Capcom, and maybe Super Meat Boy, can hold a candle to this quality.


This review appears almost as if this reviewer has never played a Donkey Kong before and lacks basic understanding of game design and its philosophies.

6 • 
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goldensunfan

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Edited By goldensunfan

Im sorry but this review is a joke. Especially when compared to aggregate user scores as well as metacritic scores. I realize a review is a reflection of one person's experience with a given title. However the entirety of this review makes me question if this reviewer has honestly played a donkey kong game before.


"making it difficult to establish the sort of smooth, free-flowing rhythm that makes the best 2D platformers such a blast. For instance, you might be leaping across a level, picking up a good rhythm between jumps,"

Well no ****. This isn't mario or rayman. Donkey Kong is not supposed to feel 'floaty' like Mario or Luigi. He has a 'weight' to him that makes the platforming more methodical and deliberate. I feel IGN's review is more accurate. And I will say this game is challenging from the get go and I love that. The first boss battle in particular quickly puts you in your paces.

"letting you zip past them quickly, and make you feel like a platforming pro."

Too bad DKC completely destroys any ego you may have by actually putting up a stiff challenge huh?


I think its refreshing to have a game that provides a solid challenge. And actually finishing a level feels all the more rewarding for it.


"even the visuals fail to make an impact. They're nice enough, but like the level design, the environments are mostly bland. While you could argue that the visual style is true to the series, I think even traditionalists wouldn't mind something with a little more pizzazz behind it."

Again I really have to question this statement. The game is gorgeous and the backgrounds are incredibly detailed. The extra camera views showing DK blasting through barrels among trees makes it feel immersive. And DK and crew have never looked better and more detailed. His fur especially is well done. I felt the game has plenty of pizzaz.


5 • 
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GreyCorky12345

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Edited By GreyCorky12345

Everyone reading this review keep in mind that all the good folks at retro studios have excellent careers in the game business and make games that almost always get 8-9+ ratings worldwide, Also keep in mind that the reviewer is a crappy game critic for a crappy website and would give his first born away to have a career that any of the people making this game have & while they continue to make AAA games for years to come, Mark Walton will be remembered only for writing terrible reviews and maybe a little for looking stupid. Have a nice day!

7 • 
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Monks-1138

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Edited By Monks-1138

I bought this game despite this review, only to discover that I'm in agreement with the reviewer, unfortunately.

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sweetpotatofry

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Edited By sweetpotatofry

I'm kind of in the opposite camp on this one, Mark. I can't remember the last time I had this much fun with a side scrolling platformer (including Rayman Legends), and it's precisely because of the slower pace. Instead of zipping through levels and making decisions on the fly, Tropical Freeze requires focus and patience... It's what keeps the game challenging without crossing into the territory of frustrating and unfair.

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darkwarriorx7

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Edited By darkwarriorx7

This game needs other take, a second opinion like FFXIII

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ohjtbehaaave

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Edited By ohjtbehaaave

Whoever this reviewer is lost all credibility . Don't review anymore games. You're clueless when you knock such an enjoyable game like this.

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bigdawg3683

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Edited By bigdawg3683

Such a poor review for such a great game. In the process of playing through the hard mode and at 147%. I find it hard to believe the reviewer and I played the same game. The music, artwork, and level design are beautiful. The challenges keep me playing, and it's just plain fun.

And what kind of dolt expects checkpoints within a boss battle?

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ExplodingBlock

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It really does annoying me that he gave this game (masterpiece) a lower score then Cod: Ghosts. He was obviously mad that this game wasn't that easy mario game that they release every year (not talking about 3D world, though)

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Stonecutters908

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Edited By Stonecutters908

You're high Mark Walton.



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Loch324

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Edited By Loch324

Mark Walton really is a joke, why doesn't he just state "Anything I don't like, isn't good" as a disclaimer before his reviews? This game is fantastic. Good god what happened to Gamespot? You can tell that the difficulty of the game got to him, it's pretty obvious.

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orangeroblin

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From the IGN message boards:

"Has anyone seen the gamespot review for donkey kong? Go watch it,it's the most unintentionally funny reviews of all time"


So true! hahahah

10 • 

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 Rating321 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
    Developed by:
    Retro Studios
    Published by:
    Nintendo
    Genre(s):
    2D, Platformer, Action
    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