Old Kong, new tricks
For years, Cranky Kong has berated me from the sidelines, prattling on about how easy I've got it and how shameful it is that I need his advice and/or item supply. I was beginning to think that the wrinkly old gorilla was all talk--but judging from my hands-on time in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, the geezer can still hop and bop with the best of 'em.
Cranky is the third buddy in Tropical Freeze, joining Diddy and Dixie as DK's sidekicks in the Retro Studios-made sequel. Like DKC Returns, this is still a lovingly difficult platformer, overflowing with devilishly tricky jumps and carefully hidden secrets (the latter of which constantly triggered my OCD tendencies to find everything in a given level). Diddy's got a jetpack and Dixie can get airborne with her ponytail--so what's Cranky's gimmick? Turns out, that cane is good for more than simply shaking at Donkey Kong during a cantankerous rant.
Like another certain anthropomorphic curmudgeon, Cranky Kong can utilize his cane as a pogo stick, bouncing on enemies' heads and dangerous terrain alike. His special ability is especially handy in spike-filled levels; I narrowly avoided death by bramble pit thanks to Cranky on numerous occasions. It's definitely more difficult to pair up with Cranky, given that his lack of air maneuverability makes precision jumps even more demanding. But if you can master the timing of his nimble cane jumps, teaming up with Cranky Kong may be the quickest way to blast through levels.
Of course, I got to see much more than just Cranky. Check out the following screenshots (and don't forget to maximize them) for additional info!
In co-op, Player 2 can take one of DK's buddies for a solo excursion
Each stage is riddled with lush details, like the planewreck in the background
Not every backdrop feels tropical, either--the Autumn island has some truly awesome settings with nary a palm tree in sight
Diddy has his peanut gun; it's only fair that Dixie gets to shoot gumballs
They're not Tikis per say, but many of the enemies exhibit similar attack patterns as those seen in Donkey Kong Country Returns
Dixie's gleeful squeals as she leaps around are infectiously cheerful
DK would get roasted if he tried to jump on these fiery, prickly baddies, but Cranky can just cane bounce them into oblivion
Waggle controls with the Wiimote and Nunchuk are still an option--but thankfully, they're no longer a requirement
Cranky Kong deals with opponents as any old geezer would: by smacking them across the head with his walking stick
Here's another example of a very un-jungle theme: a stage that revolves around giant, incredibly bouncy jelly cubes
Timing your jelly jumps can be extremely tricky--I'll admit, they killed me many a time
Every band of viking animals needs at least one hammer-wielding polar bear
You'll be sorely missing Diddy and Dixie's floaty jumps when you have to hop on tiny platforms with Cranky in tow
The name of this dastardly band of viking animals, by the way? Snowmads. Retro Studios: masters of the pun arts
With Cranky Kong taking part in the action, who's going to man the item shop? FUNKY KONG IS BACK, BABY!