Nintendo developer Retro took over the reigns on Donkey Kong Country a few years ago, the new team proved it could recreate what made that series’ memorable feel. Retro is now taking Donkey Kong and his ape pals into HD for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze on Wii U, and the five levels we played showed the game again captured the challenging gameplay of DKC. And it also marks the return of Dixie Kong, who we finally got to play as in our brief hands-on.
The first couple levels were the standard affair of tough 2D platforming, taking DK and Dixie through a series of bouncing platforms that took precision to navigate. A frozen-over mountain stage was even more challenging thanks to the slippery ground and the continually shattering platforms. Then we headed to a burning jungle where DK had to toss water balloons on burning branches to move on. Then came the two auto-scrolling levels, starting with a minecart stage, a staple of DKC. This one took advantage of the many creative camera angles coming to the Wii U entry in the franchise, making the experience even more intense. Next, the rocket barrel from the Wii entry returns in Tropical Freeze, and the rocket’s propulsion controls still demand careful (but fast!) presses of the A button to make it through a stage untouched.
We appreciate that the game retained the challenge of the originals, and we were just as happy to play as the returning Dixie Kong. Like Diddy, the welcome return of Dixie means she can help DK make jumps, and her spinning ponytail keeps her in the air as well. It's great to have alone or in co-op, but we hope she doesn't start a bad precedent. We'd hate to see Kiddy Kong appear in the next game.
Read on to see some of the newest screens from the February 2014 game!