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Nintendo developed games have a reputation for being relatively easy games, despite the fact they are always some of the best games released in any given console generation. When you play a Nintendo developed game, you're playing for the aesthetic, the gameplay and the experience, but never to challenge yourself in any way. That all changes with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, a game that is not only fun, but genuinely difficult.

Retro Studios once again takes the helm after the Wii's Donkey Kong Country Returns. While DKCR was criticized as staying too close to the Donkey Kong Country formula, Tropical Freeze goes in the opposite direction, making the game feel fresh but familiar at the same time.

Players still take control of only Donkey Kong when playing single player but in this adventure, Donkey Kong has three allies to choose from: Diddy, Dixie and Cranky Kong, each affording him a different ability. Donkey Kong will need all the help he can get when he's invaded by the Snowmads, a nomadic snow tribe that kicks Donkey Kong and friends off their island. The game features six level hubs, two less than the previous game, but each level is longer so the overall game feels a bit longer as a result. For most gamers, the game will take about 15 hours to complete and if you go for all the collectibles and secrets you're looking at about 20 to 25 hours.

Unlike other games, repetition will never start to set in despite the game's long length thanks to the varied environments. The normal ice and lava environments are here along with Donkey Kong Country staples such as the mine cart level and underwater levels. Silhouette levels also make a return in Tropical Freeze and they look just as fantastic as they did in Donkey Kong Country Returns.

This is the first time the Donkey Kong Country series has been presented in high-definition and it looks amazing. Not only does it look good, it sounds good as well thanks to legendary composer David Wise, the man responsible for the music in the Super Nintendo Donkey Kong Country trilogy, making a return to Tropical Freeze.

If Tropical Freeze ends up being too difficult for you, Retro Studios has added an item shop to the game that lets you purchase extra health and lives among other items. It lets novice players have a chance at completing the game while players looking for a challenge can completely skip this feature. It's the perfect way to handle difficulty. Speaking of difficulty, the game features local co-op play but the game is hard enough with one player; adding a second only compounds that difficulty.

Tropical Freeze is nearly a perfect platformer but it has two flaws. The first flaw is minor, but worth noting: The Wii U Gamepad is not used in any capacity during Tropical Freeze. It simply goes blank during gameplay, and it would have been nice to see Retro Studios make use of it somehow. The second flaw lies in the game's boss battles, which feel archaic. The design of the bosses themselves is great but the method of fighting them is stale: Avoid the attacks, counter-attack the boss. Losing during one of these fights means you need to start the whole process over again and some of these bosses make you wait quite awhile before you can counter-attack. It's slightly aggravating.

One of the major complaints of the Wii U is that it doesn't have many games available for it, but is that really an issue when the games that release for the system are as great as Tropical Freeze? Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze captures the essence of what made Nintendo's past platformers great while being able to graphically hold its own against any other game. The bottom line is that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze should be in every Wii U owner's library.

tags Wii-U

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