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Never thought I'd see the day. Since Metroid Prime 4 is all but officially conformed to be done by Namco, or at the very least a new team handling MP4, am not too worried about it, but I'd be a bit more concerned about Donkey Kong Country's future if this is all true, given the state DK was in for awhile after the Rare buyout. I don't know, but maybe if Retro's lucky, it'll just be some change in management, though with how quiet it's been on Retro's end for awhile now, talks of a possible shut down doesn't surprise me too much at this point, sorry to say...
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was one of the best games on the Wii U, so it's great to see it get a new, funkier life on the Switch. Just like their previous work on Donkey Kong Country Returns, Retro Studios did an absolutely amazing job of capturing the core concepts that made Donkey Kong Country such a blast on the SNES while also injecting a wealth of new content, all amidst an absolutely gorgeous setting and soundtrack. The only thing that might hold back this Switch version is the fact that there isn't a ton of new content if you already played the Wii U version, But the game is good enough that you'll likely enjoy a second playthrough regardless. Tropical Freeze on the Switch doesn't change anything about the story or core gameplay. As in the Wii U original the villainous Snowmad vikings invade Donkey Kong's home, freezing the entire island using a magic horn, completely ruining DK's birthday party. Understandably the Kongs set out for revenge, traversing multiple islands to reach the Snowmads' magic flying ship at the peak of DK island. It's pretty much the quintessential platformer setup—short, sweet, and gives a good reason to travel to multiple locations. In case you haven't played the original or have merely forgotten, Tropical Freeze is a tough platformer. It's not that there are swarms of enemies—though there are a few levels where you have to keep moving to avoid hazards—it's that the level design often requires perfect jumps, made all the more difficult by DK's unique movements. When he's not running DK is actually pretty slow and lumbersome. Build up a little momentum with a roll though, and DK will fly across gaps. The controls can be tricky at first but there's a fantastic sense of rhythm to DKC games which makes them challenging but not completely frustrating. Instead, when you complete a level, there's only a sense of satisfying accomplishment. And in the case of Tropical Freeze, there are some fantastic designs throughout the adventure. The game trades level count with level intricacy—each island only has a handful of stages but they're long and elaborate, packed with collectibles and perfect for the time attack option that opens up after you complete the level once. There is a wealth of content to enjoy here, and you can even bring a friend along for some frantic co-op fun. Now we come to the star of the show, and the main addition to Tropical Freeze on the Switch: Funky Kong! The most tubular member of the DK crew functions as an easy mode thanks to his extended health and extra-durable surfboard which protects him from hazards like spikes. He can also perform a short double jump in the air and ride his surfboard for a slow, gradual landing, making tricky jumps easy to complete. Funky is definitely easier to use in a lot of ways but if you get used to using the other Kongs Funky can feel a little hard to use in some instances. Funky's abilities make him good at everything but there are some instances where Dixie or Cranky are better—they have more specialized abilities while Funky is all-around effective, so you might not necessarily want to rely on him for everything. He's still a great addition for novice players though, especially considering Tropical Freeze's difficulty on some levels. The only downside though is that Funky is restricted to his own easy mode, so if you start a game in normal mode you can't just swap to him. It's understandable to separate him for online leaderboard/time attack purposes but it's still kind of a bummer that you have to commit to easy mode if you want to try him out. Tropical Freeze looks every bit as good as it did on the Wii U—better even, thanks to some slight boosts to the resolution. Regardless of the technical aspects though it's the bright, lively art design that makes the visuals pop, even when playing in handheld mode on the Switch's screen. The background artwork is so rich at times that it's almost worth replaying the game just to take in all of the visuals. And the soundtrack by David Wise is every bit as captivating as it was in the original game—Grassland Groove remains a personal favorite of mine. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is another worthy port to the Switch's library. Its main addition, Funky Kong, is somewhat restricted as a separate easy mode, but fans of the game will still appreciate experimenting with a new way to play the game, and the new possibilities he offers for speedrunning. The real draw for this Switch game is everything that made the Wii U game great: incredible level design, a wealth of challenging collectibles to uncover, gorgeous visuals, and a truly stellar soundtrack. Tropical Freeze may not be new for some players, but it's well worth another playthrough all the same. Rating: 9 out of 10 Bananas