Opinion; Why Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze Looks To be a Fantastic Game

Recently among Nintendo fans, it seems a sort of ‘backlash’ towards the Donkey Kong Country series has developed.  Perhaps it’s because it’s a platformer series akin to the Mario or Kirby franchise rather than some weird genre no one cares about, maybe it’s because Retro Studios is working on it and the Metroid fans still seem to have a chip on their shoulder towards it.  But enough of that, because here’s why I think Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze looks to be a great game, and perhaps even a major system seller for the Wii U…

1. It’s a true ‘next gen’ 2D platformer

And by that, I mean it’s a game that feels like it’s fresh and new, while still maintaining the classic feel of other 2D platform games.

Which quite honestly, is kind of rare in this day and age, where most platformers tend to be super old school throwbacks with the bare minimum of technology or genre expansion (think Mega Man 9 and 10 or at least half of all indie platformers ever made).  Or New Super Mario Bros, which is about as ‘new’ and ‘fresh’ in this day and age as Mario Party was by the Gamecube era.

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze looks to be different.  It looks to be artistically ambitious with new content, new characters, settings and level designs.  It’s got the makings of an amazing soundtrack, and heck, it even merges in some really dynamic level design, like pseudo 3D sections involving mine carts where half the track explodes, things fly in from every angle and you switch between camera angles every few seconds.  So basically, it’s the kind of 2D platformer you always wished would appear back when the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube were out, an expansion on the original Returns and only really rivaled by Rayman Origns/Legends in any of this.

2. The series is one that needs more great games, not less

But it’s not just the platforming alone that makes me interested in this game.  Oh no, do you know what else some people need to consider?

We never got a new Donkey Kong platformer for at least five years prior to Returns.  Or prior to Jungle Beat.  And heck, that doesn’t really count either, because Jungle Beat was actually intended as an attack on the Donkey Kong Country franchise by a bunch of developers who apparently hated the series ‘lore’/world and wanted to ‘replace’ it:

Koizumi: All the characters outside of Donkey Kong and the banana are completely original. We don’t really feel the past look of Donkey Kong was fresh enough for today.

So yeah.  We’ve got a series that fell into limbo for a good decade since the ‘death’ of the Nintendo 64, and then Retro decides to revive it with two great games… and people complain?

At least you Metroid fans got three Metroid Prime games in just a matter of a few years, along with Hunters and Metroid Fusion.  Then Metroid Other M a few years later.  Donkey Kong Country’s fans pretty much got just scraps for a good ten years.

The Donkey Kong Country series is amazing. The series deserves a revival.  And do you know what?  It deserves just as many new games as your Metroid one got, so please accept that and move on.

3. The soundtrack will be absolutely phenomenal because of the composer

Come on people.  David Wise is returning as composer for the series after more than ten years.  And this is the same person who composed such classics as Stickerbrush Symphony:

And you know, many of those other classic songs you probably remember from the first and second games (and even the slightly more obcure GBA DKC 3 soundtrack).   As a result of this, there’s a fairly good chance Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze could actually end up with the best video game soundtracks of all time, complete with songs as good as or perhaps even BETTER than the SNES classics.

Isn’t that something to feel excited about?  We’ve already had a wave of amazing soundtracks in the form of those for Luigi’s Mansion 2, Mario & Luigi Dream Team Pokemon X and Y, Super Mario 3D World and The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds, and yet we could be getting one that tops even those!  I mean, it’s like an old school Nintendo fan’s dream come true, the same artist who came up with the songs in their favourite games returning to score a new game in the same series with 21st century music technology!

This is pretty much a once in a lifetime, one in a million opportunity people.  Let’s not ignore or be too harsh on it, because damn, as far as game music goes, Tropical Freeze is likely going to outshine damn near anything for the next few months or years.

4. Dixie Kong reappears, and Cranky Kong is also playable

There’s also the obvious fact that we get both Dixie Kong as playable (a fan favourite character who was popular in the last two SNES games and was basically the character with the most playable appearances then) and Cranky Kong as a newcomer.  Yeah, Cranky Kong.  The old, somewhat sarcastic snarker with the ability to bounce around on his cane like Scrooge McDuck from Duck Tales!

Cranky Kong Art

Above: He looks pretty badass in his official artwork too…

If this was absolutely anything else, people would probably be freaking out over the hype from some of this stuff.  It’s like seeing a new Mario RPG with the return of Geno as a playable character, along with someone like Fawful as a playable newcomer.  Celebrate it people.  Enjoy the fact we’re getting classic DKC characters back, and enjoy the fact we’re arguably getting the best playable character cast in the entire franchise.

5. And finally, it’s arguably the game Nintendo SHOULD be making

Finally, to cap it all off, I have to say one thing…

If you think Retro shouldn’t be making Tropical Freeze, what exactly should they be making?

Metroid?  Oh wait.  They’ve already made three games and a trilogy compilation, give ’em a break already.

But there’s more.  Did you know that every single Metroid game bar the first Prime has been outsold by the majority of the Donkey Kong Country series?

Yep:

Donkey Kong Country 1 sold over 9 million copies

Donkey Kong Country 2 sold over 4 million copies

There were 2.89-3 million copies of Donkey Kong Country 3 sold

Plus at least 5 million copies of Donkey Kong 64

Finally, Donkey Kong Country Returns sold about 5-6 million copies

Contrast with Metroid, and it’s kind of obvious which franchise is the real money maker here.  The whole Metroid series?  Had sold about 17 million copies by 2012.  Donkey Kong Country beat that with just the original, 64 and Returns. As in, those three games put together outsold the entire Metroid franchise as released since the NES era.

So why shouldn’t Retro and Nintendo make a Metroid game instead again?  What, to sell about half the amount they would of Tropical Freeze?  To attempt to win over a couple of insecure ‘hardcore’ gamers who likely wouldn’t care for the Wii U anyway?  That last one’s not a joke either, people constantly act like ‘new 3D Metroid by Retro would sell systems to Xbox 360/PS3/PS4/Xbox One fans’.  Except oh wait, the last few such games didn’t.  Hunters was meant to capture that audience, yet managed to get maybe 0.5% of the userbase.  Prime 1 and 2 were meant to be games that sold the Gamecube to similar types.  They didn’t.  They did really well and were great games, but they didn’t cause the ‘dudebro’ self proclaimed ‘hardcore’ to go out and buy Gamecubes en masse.

But how about the other suggestions?  Let’s look at those too.

We’ve got suggestions that Retro make a new Zelda game.  Except, they don’t need to.  Nintendo EAD already is.  The same people who made the fantastic Link Between Worlds games are already working on Zelda for Wii U.  Your dream Zelda HD game is probably just round the corner anyway.

And while the other suggestions are interesting enough (new F-Zero, new Mach Rider, new Star Fox, new whatever), they’re not exactly things that’d sell as well as Tropical Freeze probably will.  F-Zero needs a revival, but it’s still a niche series that’s never really broke more than a million copies in the best of times.  Star Fox is the same,  And revivals like Mach Rider, while something interesting to consider, probably work better when the Wii U has actually been established and is selling million of units (giving them a potential userbase willing to try something new).

To put it bluntly, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze looks to be a great game, and arguably far more the type of game the Wii U needs than any other that Retro could be working on.  Let’s not unfairly criticise it all the time please.

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Cole Holbrook
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Cole Holbrook

I won’t ever complain that we are getting a new DK. It’s just u don’t feel excited. I know I will buy and it will be fantastic, but I won’t be counting the days as I would be for a different game.

Jaxon Holden
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Jaxon Holden

Oh I certainly am. Matter of fact, DKC Tropical Freeze is probably the ONLY game of the first half of 2014 I’m counting the days to. And I have a Wii U, PS4, 3DS and Vita. I just replayed DKC Returns on 3DS, which reminded me of just how freaking fantastic these games are. People really should go play Returns again, because I think they’re forgetting just how fun DKC is.

Cole Holbrook
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Cole Holbrook

Wow, I didn’t realize people liked the game so much. To me it wasn’t that stand out I guess. I thought there were really interesting level designs though. I’m personally looking forward to Mario Kart 8 as well.

supamawiol0l
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supamawiol0l

Oh god. Take a crazy Hunger Games fan, replace Hunger Games with Mario Kart 8, and you have me.

Cole Holbrook
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Cole Holbrook

Also I feel like it’s a game people with a Wii u will buy, but people won’t buy a Wii u for it.

Jaxon Holden
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Jaxon Holden

I beg to differ. The only reason my brother ever bought a Wii was to play Donkey Kong Country Returns. And he’s a hardcore Sony gamer. People know how great these games are, I think they just want something more “hardcore” they can flaunt in the faces of the immature dudebro gamers and say “See, we have games like that too!” They want Metroid to show off as much as they want it to play, perhaps even more. I mean look, I love Metroid and Prime series was one of my all time faves, but people are putting it on… Read more »

Cole Holbrook
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Cole Holbrook

I wouldn’t buy it for Metroid but I know many would. That’s why I think Nintendo making DK is great but not exactly what they need. Although with Mario Kart 8 releasing around the same time I’m sure the sales will be booming with the combo of the two

Thrash13
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Thrash13

This is a great article, and the points are all very valid. DKC: TF has gotten a crappy deal since being announced, and it’s quite possible it will be an 8.5-9.0 kind of game. Mario Kart 8 is the reason I became interested in the Wii U, but DKC: TF instantly got my attention shortly thereafter. I’m very excited to get a Wii U and this game!

Michael Ocampo
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Michael Ocampo

Great article and points. The one thing i don’t really understand is why people were complaining that David Wise didn’t compose for returns. Yeah, I know it’s cool to have the person you like be a part in whatever you’re interested in but if the content is good, why would you complain? I personally thought that Returns had an AMAZING sound track although i haven’t really heard much of the original DK sound tracks (or played the games for that matter) to compare.

Tony Cutillo
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Tony Cutillo

You haven’t heard the original games music but you want to justify Returns having as good tracks? I’ve heard TF tracks and even though it’s David Wise they don’t even come close to his original work on the franchise

Michael Ocampo
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Michael Ocampo

I said i haven’t heard MUCH doesn’t mean that i haven’t heard any bro. Stuff like stickerbrush symphony is alright but not what you guys make it out to be in my opinion. Pretty much every song i can remember from returns is better (again in my opinion) than the stickerbrush symphony.

Tony Cutillo
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Tony Cutillo

Why do I feel that the original trilogy on SNES looked better than Tropical Freeze. It’s more than the graphics it’s also the fact you are zoomed out to far compared to the originals. Am I playing from outer space? Lol I’m still going to buy it but I wish they’d allow you to play as close as before.