Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, known in Japan as Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze (ドンキーコングトロピカルフリーズ), is a side-scrolling 2.5D platform game developed by Retro Studios and Monster Games for the Wii U. It is the fifth game in the Donkey Kong Country series and a successor to Donkey Kong Country Returns. It follows the adventure of Donkey, Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky Kong as they are flung from their homeland and attempt to come back and retrieve it from the Snowmads. These are the antagonists of the game and are based on stereotypical Vikings, appearing as antropomorphic, (sub)polar animals ranging from penguins and walruses to owls and hares.
The game was originally slated for release during November 2013 before being pushed back to December 6; it was later pushed back again to February 2014. It can be purchased at retail stores, or digitally from the Nintendo eShop, with the digital version requiring 11300 MB (approx. 11.3 GB) of memory to be installed. Standard set Wii U consoles do not have enough internal memory to have this game downloaded on them without an external storage device, but deluxe set Wii U consoles do.
The story begins at Donkey Kong's hut, where the Kongs are celebrating his birthday. Suddenly, one of the balloons flies off the Kong house and over the sea, where Snowmad ships are stationed. Far away from the island, a Pointy Tucks watches over them, locating the Kong house and relaying info to their leader, shrouded in a dark silhouette. Upon the leader nodding their approval, the Pointy Tuckses bring him a horn which he blows, creating a large amount of wind, as well as an ice dragon.
Just as he is about to blow the candle out, Donkey Kong notices a mysterious snowflake appear and put out the candle on his birthday cake. He turns away with a frustrated look on his face as he hears an uproar, and he and the other Kongs exit the house. The ice dragon from earlier flies toward Donkey Kong Island, turning the sea under it to ice. The Kongs are then blown away from the island by the ice dragon's intense winds, landing on the Lost Mangroves island. Afterwards, a large ship stations itself where the Volcano from Donkey Kong Country Returns used to be, and the Snowmads seize Donkey Kong Island for their own, turning it into a frosty area with continuous snowfall.
After traversing across 5 islands with each posing its own threats, the Kongs finally arrive at Donkey Kong Island under control of the Snowmads. The Kongs make their way through the frozen fortress until they encounter the leader of the Snowmads, Lord Fredrik, who challenges the Kongs to a final battle deep in the depths of the volcano. After a long battle, Donkey Kong delivers the final punch to Lord Fredrik, which sends him flying out through the roof of the Snowmad's ship, destroying it in the process. The Kongs wander out of the remains of the ship and look out from the mountainside to see the end of Lord Fredrik's fall. Lord Fredrik crashes into the remainder of the Snowmad ships out in the seas of the island, defeating the entire Snowmad clan and freeing the island from their control. Donkey Kong then notices the horn that was used to freeze their island fell out of Lord Fredrik's hands during his fall, which he catches and blows into, producing a breeze of flowers that carries the Kongs to the bottom of the island. The Kongs watch and rejoice as the breeze of the flowers flutter around the island, melting all of the ice and snow, returning Donkey Kong Island to its former glory.
The gameplay of the title is very similar to that of its predecessor, Donkey Kong Country Returns. The Kongs are able to walk, run, jump, roll, pound the ground, as well as climb vines and ropes. By jumping, the Kongs can stomp on various enemies and defeat them; however, some enemies cover their top sides with shields or sharp objects, making them troublesome or dangerous to stomp on. Stomping on at least three enemies in a row grants the player one Banana Coin for each enemy stomped thereafter. The players start earning Extra Life Balloons if they achieve a combo of eight or more enemy stomps.
The Kongs can perform Ground Pounds in various places to break unsound structures (such as crates and cracked blocks), revealing items or secret paths underground. If executed near some foes, they will become dizzy and unable to attack or damage the Kongs for a short time. Likewise, ground pounding can be used to empty item containers, which are found in the immediate background.
The Kongs can also roll to knock enemies over from the side. Donkey Kong can perform this move on a short distance. Nonetheless, rolling can confer higher momentum than usual running; if Donkey Kong jumps while rolling, his jump will cover a longer distance than usual. If the ape rolls over the edge of a platform, he can quickly hop in mid-air and continue going forward, provided he lands on another platform; these speeding-up tricks are especially useful in Time Attack gameplay.
Diddy Kong returns as a playable partner for Donkey. He is the first Kong partner in the game to be encountered. With the small Barrel Jet mounted on his back, he can help Donkey Kong hover across pits and obstacles for a short time. Diddy wields a popgun which can fire peanuts. Upon getting shot out of the weapon, they bounce off the ground swiftly until smashing into a wall or an enemy. In the latter case, the enemy usually gets stunned for a brief moment after getting hit by the projectile; on the other hand, there are tougher enemies which are not affected by Diddy Kong's peanuts.
In specific levels of the game, Donkey Kong and co. are able to ride different vehicles. Firstly, the Mine Cart, which carries the heroes along railtracks which cannot be trod by foot. As the Mine Cart moves automatically, the Kongs can duck inside the vehicle or jump with it in order to dodge obstacles. Secondly, the Rocket Barrel, which is necessary to fly across wide chasms and normally has to be navigated through a series of hazards and enemies. It can be risen up or let to fall down. Lastly, Rambi the Rhinoceros (who is categorized as a "vehicle" in the game's instruction manual), a powerful Animal Friend who can charge into enemies and defeat them. Otherwise invincible to most enemies even when standing still, he is still vulnerable to lightnings, fire enemies, or any other object protected by flames.
The Kongs' health is measured in hearts. Donkey Kong naturally has two hearts – two more if he carries a partner with him, as well as an additional one if a Heart Boost is equipped. Each time the Kongs get damaged, they lose one heart from their health meter. If all of their hearts have been depleted, they lose one life. Hearts can be found along the way and are used to replenish the primates' health bar. Extra Life Balloons add more tries to the game. If all lives are lost, the players receive a game over and are prompted to restart the game from where their progress was last saved.
Level map and bonuses
The game features a total of 63 levels (including boss and Hidden Kong Temple stages and excluding Funky's Fly 'n' Buy stations), grouped in seven island maps. Every island map is displayed from an aerial viewpoint and connects a system of paths, allowing players to take on different routes in order to reach a certain level. Once players complete a level, they open a new path or crossroad. Paths are navigated on foot, but Auto Fire Barrels are sometimes used on the way; Donkey Kong Island's map navigation, on the other hand, is entirely provided by Blast Barrels. Warping from an island to another is always released through Auto Fire Barrels.
On the map, non-boss levels are marked by circular pads, whilst boss stages are associated with star-shaped pads. Level pads light in several colors on different conditions: red pads mean their levels have not been completed yet; blue pads mean their levels have been finished at least once. Additionally, green pads relate to levels which have been completed on Hard Mode. Unlit/black pads are inaccessible, and switch to red when the paths that lead to them are unlocked.
On each island, the Kongs eventually encounter a shop run by Funky Kong, which is always marked with white pads. The shop, Funky's Fly 'n' Buy, offers items that can turn helpful for the Kongs, in exchange for Banana Coins. The price for each item stays the same on the course of the game. Alongside items, which include Extra Life Balloons, Buddy Barrels, and Heart Boosts, the shop also displays a Toy Capsule Machine, which contains collectable toy figures representing characters from the game. Each of them costs five Banana Coins and can be obtained by chance. As the players progress through the game, more toy figures become available in the shop.
An uneven number of Puzzle Pieces (5, 7, or 9), as well as four K-O-N-G Letters, are spread in each level, excluding boss levels for both and Hidden Kong Temple levels for the latter. Puzzle Pieces unlock various concept artworks for the game, while K-O-N-G Letters are mandatory for unlocking Hidden Kong Temple stages; each world aside from the last one contains one of these stages. While some Puzzle Pieces are scattered throughout a level in different areas, some appear only after collecting a certain group of items. Bonus stages dedicated to collecting these items are oftenly featured within levels, and yield Puzzle Pieces after completion. These bonus stages can be accessed through hidden Blast Barrels.
Finishing all the levels of the game (including the Hidden Kong Temple ones) and acquiring every Puzzle Piece are amongst the mandatory requirements for full, 200% completion of the game.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze features more playable characters than Donkey Kong Country Returns. These are Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong. The former Kong can execute the Helicopter Spin with her ponytail in order to propel herself up in midair. Cranky harnesses the Cane Bounce by using his iconic rigid cane to combat or overcome some obstacles otherwise (potentially) dangerous to stomp on, such as urchins and thorns; the Cane Bounce can be seen as a substitute to Dixie Kong's Helicopter Twirl, as Cranky can bounce off the ground with his cane and take off to increased heights. With the inclusion of more than two playable characters in the game, a premiere feature in the series, the variety of Buddy Barrels has been invigorated. Players can stumble upon Diddy, Dixie, or Cranky barrels, with each displaying their name abbreviations – DD, DX, and CK respectively. These barrels are usually found separated from each other, while other constantly rotate and change their content, each time indicated by the cited abbreviations. In the standard mode of play, Donkey Kong can only carry one partner at the time; after freeing a completely new partner while transporting another one, the latter will cast itself out and make room for the other on Donkey's back. If the character in the chosen barrel is already seated on Donkey Kong, the primates can regenerate their health bar upon destroying such an item.
The game also presents ice and underwater levels, which were absent in Returns. The Kongs' ability to swim has been restored, even though it is altered from the Mario-styled swimming controls present in the original trilogy. In effect, the swimming mechanics are similar to those of the New Play Control! version of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, where instead of pressing the jump button to gain momentum, the player has to move the stick / buttons. The Kongs are now given limited air while underwater, requiring them to seek out air bubbles to survive. A Corkscrew attack has been added, with which the player can defeat certain enemies or collapse less durable structures while underwater.
In a vast number of areas in the game, players can encounter orange handles fixed on the surface of platforms. The Kongs can pull these handles to uncover their roots from under the ground, which can be either bonuses or Barrel Cannons that launch them to other places. Upon plucking some of these objects, the Kongs are bound to assist to certain phenomenons that manipulate the contacted environment in some way or another.
The plucking function can help transport several objects, such as items, where the possibility to be carried and thrown exists - barrels, DK Barrels, and Watermelon Fuse Bombs are the most common items to be transported. Some can be taken directly from the ground, but other are buried under it and obtainable only by plucking handles. The player can actually haul even enemies, specifically those that are relatively small and wear orange helmets, like Tuff Fluffs and Tuff Tuckses. Portable items and enemies are sometimes necessary in order to destroy hinderances, bags with precious content, and tough foes.
Camera movement and Kong POW
For the first time in the series, the camera angle can change dynamically in some levels where Blast Barrels or minecarts are found, showing more areas and perspectives of the scenery. A new feature in this game is the Kong POW attack, which turns all enemies on-screen into items. This move can only be performed when 100 bananas have been collected, as well as when there is a partner by Donkey Kong's side.
A mode originating in Returns, Time Attack of any level can be accessed only after the player has hit the Slot Machine Barrel at the end of it at least once. It is available on single player and is a completely optional mode, meaning it does not unlock extra content in the game, nor contribute to its completion percentage.
Before entering Time Attack, players are given the option to select a type of Buddy Barrel for the course of the chosen stage. During Time Attack, players have to guide Donkey Kong and, eventually, his partner to the level's finish barrel in the fastest time possible. Three time limits are set during the course, each corresponding to one of the gold, silver, and bronze medals. Should the heroes reach their destination before the stopwatch count surpasses one of these time limits, they are rewarded with the medal accordingly. The primates start off every race against time with a stopwatch count set to zero displayed on the screen and a chance of winning a gold medal; as the count advances and time elapses, the gold medal eventually switches to silver and, ultimately, to bronze, unless the players time the Kongs' movements so they reach the goal before one of the medal's time limit is struck. A special shiny gold medal can be obtained if the Kongs manage to reach the finish barrel at a particular time within the standard gold medal time limit. The milestone times for shiny gold medals are never displayed nor made clear.
It is to be noted that, unlike in other modes of the game, the Kongs do not lose a life after their health bar has been drained completely during Time Attack, further proving that exploring the game this way has no virtual effect on general gameplay.
While the aspects described above were previously present in Donkey Kong Country Returns, a noteworthy difference in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is marked by the absence of Checkpoint Booths during the Time Attack mode. In the former game, if the Kongs would have lost all of their hearts from the health bar while racing in a level, they would be transferred back to the last checkpoint reached, with the stopwatch resuming its count and their health bar refilled. With the lack of checkpoints in Time Attack of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, the heroes are prompted to restart the whole stage with the count reset to zero every time they fail progressing.
Additionally, in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, if the Kongs finish a level in Time Attack mode without taking damage, their achieved medal will be accompanied by a heart icon. This icon is permanent until they achieve a better time.
Despite Checkpoint Booths being unavailable during Time Attack, Professor Chops retains his role as referee. During every race, he first shows up at the beginning, waving a small green flag in the rhythm of the countdown. After the Kongs break the finish barrel, he springs on the scene with a chequered flag, indicating the race has been terminated.
Time Attack Leaderboards
If connected to the Internet and signed into Nintendo Network, players are granted the possibility to upload their Time Attack records on a worldwide leaderboard. These records are associated to their Nintendo Network IDs. The global Time Attack rank of any level in the game can be accessed by selecting the "LEADERBOARDS" section on the Time Attack menu. The rank displays other player's time records on the said levels, as well as the Kong partner used and, occasionally, a replay of their progress to be observed.
When players have collected all the K-O-N-G Letters in the game and have subsequently completed every level, an additional game mode, Hard Mode, is unlocked. Hard Mode can only be played with one Kong, marking the only occasion in the game aside from multiplayer sessions when one can take full control of Diddy, Dixie, or Cranky. Nevertheless, the characters are given a single heart to go along the selected level, and have to reach their destination without taking damage at all in order to complete the stage. Layout differences during Hard Mode are established by the removal of checkpoints. In order to complete the game 200%, every level in the game has to be finished in Hard Mode. During Hard Mode, the K-O-N-G Letters of each level are recolored from red to blue. Collecting them again in this mode replaces the red star icon next to a chosen level's name (marking that all letters have been previously obtained there) with a blue one, although it is not necessary for 200% completion and does not unlock anything.
The game can be played with either the Wii U GamePad, the Wii Remote alone and held horizontally, or the Wii Remote held vertically and connected to a Nunchuk. Below is a list of all controls that trigger the actions in the game, each for every style of playing.
Note that the moves marked with the color blue are abilities that are only utilised underwater.
Wii U GamePad (primary controls)
Solo & Co-op modes
Co-op mode only
or – carry partner (for player 1), mount/dismount Donkey Kong (for player 2)
Wii U GamePad (secondary controls)
Solo & Co-op modes
Co-op mode only
or – carry partner (for player 1), mount/dismount Donkey Kong (for player 2)
Wii Remote (held horizontally)
Solo & Co-op modes
Co-op mode only
– carry partner (for player 1), mount/dismount Donkey Kong (for player 2)
Wii Remote (held vertically) and Nunchuk
Solo & Co-op modes
Co-op mode only
Each boss of this game is faced at the end of one of the six main worlds. The Kongs have to deliver nine hits to a boss enemy in order to defeat him; after every three hits, the boss will anger and morph into another phase, usually changing color to reflect this. As the final blow is struck, the player is given the chance to punch the boss and knock him out violently by repeatedly pressing the buttons shown on screen.
Below is a table containing all the minion sub-species enrolled in the Snowmad army, classified into categories. They are followed by a brief description on their behavior and combat. The first and final in-game level appearances of each enemy is also mentioned.
Other enemies and obstacles
Along with the mischievous Snowmads, there are also many other foes, as well as obstacles, the Kongs have to fight or avoid throughout their adventure. Some enemy species, which otherwise act the same, change in appearance. Below is a table with all of the enemies and obstacles not related to the Snowmads.
Below is a table containing all collectables and projectiles found in the game. What goes under the name of "collectable" is a gameplay element which can be collected and stored to a specific counter. Usually, when this counter reaches a certain number or magnitude, a special gameplay-related event will take place. A projectile represents an item which can be picked up and used as weapon.
Mechanisms are objects which trigger actions or uncover items after the Kongs affect them. Vehicles refer to certain apparatuses that are used as mandatory ways of locomotion during select levels of the game.
Worlds and levels
The game has seven total islands, consisting of six "main" islands and one secret island (Secret Seclusion), which serve as the game's worlds. Though the course of each world, the Kongs can visit Funky's Fly 'n' Buy item shop, where Funky Kong sells life balloons and other balloons, portable partner barrels, Banana Juice, Heart Boosts, Crash Guards, and figurines of characters in the game that can be obtained through a capsule toy machine.
The table below lists all of the worlds and levels in the game, including their respective music theme and number of Puzzle Pieces. Since not every musical composition in the game has been given a name, several of the ones shown are either described as covers from the past Donkey Kong games, or merely marked as conjectural with a pointy line.
Note that the titles of the musical themes which are succeeded by an asterisk (*) in the following table are stated in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze notably marks the return of long-time Donkey Kong Country composer David Wise, whose last soundtrack for the series was for the Game Boy Advance version of Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! in 2005. Wise was specifically brought on board by Retro Studios president Michael Kelbaugh.
Pre-release and unused content
Early footage of the game, specifically the one from the E3 trailer, showed heads-up display that was a bit different from the current version. The place where the life counter is did not feature anything behind the hearts; in the final version, there is a wooden plank icon. There was also no possibility to see whether the player can perform the Kong POW move, as the banana bar was missing.
In Levitation Station, if DK jumps towards a block as it is forming, he may hang in the air beside it until it is ready to return to the background.
Schnautzel Falls Into Background
When a player finds a Schnautzel near a Tuff Fluff in Horn Top Hop they need to make sure they that it's slightly facing the background and keep rolling into it. If done correctly, the Schnautzel will be knocked out falling into the background instead of the foreground.
References to other games
References in later games