There is something magical about Nintendo and how they can turn a standard platformer into something remarkable. The new Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze will not disappoint. While there is very little story to the game other than a band of frozen-climate animals taking over the various islands that Donkey Kong and his friends call home, the game is all about its core feature, its great level design. Throughout the eight or so islands, each of them delivers a wide range of challenges and visual marvels to take in. From the underwater caves where you get chased by a crazed, giant squid to the poisonous treetops where everything is out to kill you. It’s all a wonderful adventure and not one level feels the same as the last.
Tropical Freeze is around a 13-hour campaign given you just breeze through the stages without worrying about the hard-to-find collectables scattered throughout the area. Each stage has a set of puzzles pieces and a KONG letter collection to find and they are not easy at all. But the magic in the game is just how each level delivers a sense of scale and brings the world to life in more ways than one. We are talking about a two-dimensional platformer here and considering that,the levels are designed extremely well. From the African savannah to the frozen mountains that is home to the leader of this icy group of animals. Each of these islands is detailed and each level is brought to life by a stunning and catchy soundtrack and various background animations that make you feel as if you are exploring a part of an even bigger area. Be it the small islands in the background, animals jumping around in the trees or even the impending final boss fight that you can see throughout many of the final few stages leading up to it. They thought of it all.
The Switch version also lets you play as Funky Kong which in a way acts as the “Assist Mode” for the game. Funky has all the abilities of the other apes in one but also has five heart bars making him stronger than the rest. This mode is made for the younger gamers and those who just want to experience the story and glory of the game without worrying about dying a lot. The only problem is that he is only playable in a separate game mode so if you feel like switching to him half-way through the game you cannot. You have to create a separate save file just to play the game with him.
Of course, the game is fully playable in multiplayer with the second player taking the spot of an added ape. Multiplayer is hilariously frustrating as you both share the same lives and you will probably cause each other to die a couple of times. I could not stop laughing at times as the game’s already-unforgiving gameplay is even harder with an added player on board to get in the way. It is one of those multiplayer games that you play with the knowledge that it will either make or break your relationship.