Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Tropical Freeze; where DK is relevant again

WARNING; this WILL contain spoilers! Tread carefully!

So last Monday I went out to buy a Wii U. Earlier, on Saturday, I had purchased Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, my most anticipated game of this year.

A reason I love Tropical Freeze is because it fits in perfectly with other DKC games. Returns did too, but it fell flat on some points. And even then, Returns was amazing. We all thought it couldn't get better than Returns. Except, guess what? It did get better than Returns. Who would'a thought that?

Tropical Freeze is delightfully Rare-esque while still made by Retro. From the character design to the worlds' liveliness, it is comparable to the first three Donkey Kong Country games. Stuff happens, not for gameplay purposes like in most games, but just to make the world seem more real and lively. Woodpeckers pecking at trees, hidden messages engraved in background scenery, Snowmads just doing their things in their regular life, occasionally throwing spears at that ape trying to hinder them.

Hell, there's even dancing trees, flaming porcupines, giant instruments, and menacing viking owls, and never once did I feel like questioning 'why?'. The wonder of being chased by a sawmill... it's just inexplainably amazing. And tough as nails, which is a welcome change to most video games being, admittedly, quite easy these days.

Did I mention I like the Snowmads more than the Kremlings now? Heresy, probably, but they're so quirky and original. I mean, anyone can figure a crocodile would be a bad guy. Penguins on the other hand... and not just penguins. Also walruses, rabbits, owls, and all kinds of wildlife not affiliated with the Snowmads themselves. There's a lot of variation in animal species, something I've always been a fan of.

And say what you want, but they're at least cooler (heh) than the Tikis. And the bosses? I love them. Especially the baboon trio of Bright Savannah -- they're as close to new Kongs as we're gonna get.

And of course, there's David Wise who composed the soundtrack, most wonderfully I might add, which fully completes the DK-feel, in my opinion. In earlier levels it is reminiscent of Diddy Kong Racing, to which it sounds and feels more like Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest in later levels, and it's amazing. Of course, there's a fair share of remixes of fan-favourites, but there's some a lot of great new tracks too. And there's so much variation in genres as well. We have Aquatic Ambiance and Stickerbush Symphony making a glorious return, and then there's the boss battles which sometimes sound like the likes of Bon Jovi.

The only bad thing about this, is that it'll be hard for a new DK game to live up to the standards established in this game. It is the modern-day Diddy's Kong Quest.

That said, I think Retro studios reached a point where they made a more solid DK game than Rare did, or ever could, especially nowadays.

Heresy? I think not.

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