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After Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s success on the Nintendo Switch, I began to think of what other games might come from Wii U to Switch. There is one game I want more than others and that is Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze.

This might just be the best Donkey Kong game ever made. The Music by David Wise is excellent, and it had some truly amazing visuals that went against the grain for 2D platformers, even HD ones. Tthe enemies are memorable and great, especially unlike the Tikis from Returns, and were a worthy successor to the Kremlings. But most importantly, this has the best gameplay and level design in the series, with every level  being and feeling alive and bursting with energy. Every area, from the beaches to the frozen islands have a truly epic feel to them, which is greatly helped by the awesome David Wise soundtrack.

In addition, the characters are probably the best they have been in the series.feel great as well. Dixie Kong makes her return and truly shows why she was a beloved character. Also, for the first time in the series, you can play as Cranky Kong. Cranky plays like Scrooge McDuck from the Ducktales video game adaptations and is a truly worthy addition to the roster. Plus when you add in the hard modes, you could play as a different character than DK in single player. You could play as Diddy, Dixie or Cranky for the whole game, which opened up entire new play possibilities. This isn’t getting into the Time Trials, with the game encouraging speed running and allowed you to upload your replays for others to see.

The fact is that this is just too good a game to leave on the Wii U. This game deserves a second chance to make an impact and get a new audience and it should come to the Nintendo Switch. It could do very well there, especially with the overall momentum of the platform, and get better sales. the fact is that this is one of the most creative games on the Wii U, and I would even say among the most creative platformer games ever made. It is just that good and should be experienced by more.

 

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The above was the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of ROG or its staff.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 15 Dec, 2015 At 04:55 AM | Categorized As Featured, Interviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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I had the chance to speak with Eric Kozlowsky recently and ask him a few questions about his time at Retro Studios.
How did you come to work for Retro Studios?
I was working as a Lead Environment Artist at Square Enix. Unfortunately the project I was working on was canceled and the entire team laid off. This was in March of 2011. I spent some time putting feelers into the open and when an opportunity at Retro came up I sent my stuff in and got an interview.
 
What was the work environment like at Retro?
Retro is pretty laid back and easygoing. They respect their employees to manage their workload and get their work done. Out of all of the studios I’ve worked for I think Retro has one of the best cultures. I’ve never seen so much inter-department friendships before. Normally The artists are friends with Artists, Designers with Designers and Engineers with Engineers. But at Retro this wasn’t the case at all!
Retro’s games are typically overseen by Kensuke Tanabe, do you have any stories you can share about him? Any comments on how he interacted with everyone?
Tanabe-San was mostly focused with Design. So I didn’t have much professional contact with him as art was pretty much left to the stewardship of our Creative Director. Personally every time I talked with him he was super friendly and easy going. He even signed my Hyrule Historia book (Tanabe-San was scriptwriter on Link to the Past, and he headed up development on Link’s Awakening.)
 
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What was it like to work on the Donkey Kong series? Did the series legacy intimidate or excite you in any way?
I have to admit that DK has never been a favorite of mine when it comes to Nintendo characters and game. I was a fan of the original DKC. Yet I never played any subsequent releases save for DKCR to prepare for my interview. However as I the project went on I gained a whole new appreciation for the big guy! There game design in the games is really something else. The way the levels can be attempted in a speedrun is really mind blowing.
Then there is the legacy of the art! I mean when DKC released back on the SNES it was a trailblazer for the coming 3D generation of games (even if it was 2d gameplay). So trying to live up to that legacy, as well as the phenomenal art in Donkey Kong Country Returns was very intimidating. As it stands now out of all the games I have worked on (over 10 at this point) I am most proud of Donkey Kong Country:Tropical Freeze!
I can definitely say now Donkey Kong is one of my favorite Nintendo franchises!
 
What would you have liked to work on at Retro?
I would have LOVED to have worked on Star Fox. I even pitched a proposal before I knew that Miyamoto-San was working on Star Fox Zero. I think I have the document laying around somewhere 😛
 I can’t wait to play Star Fox Zero next year.
 
Can you share any funny workplace stories from your time there?
It’s tough to think of just one, after 4 years working there it starts to bleed together. Most shenanigans happened AFTER work! 🙂
What led to you deciding to leave Retro?
It’s tough being an artist in the game industry. It’s very easy to get comfortable and fall into habits that don’t push your skill. I felt I needed to try something new, to test my abilities and try to grow. Time will tell if that was a wise decision!
 
Are you personally excited for Retro’s next game, whatever it may be?
Of course! I can’t wait to see how it’s grown since I left.
Do you feel Retro can now do more than 1 game at a time or would they be best served the way they have been doing things so far…just your opinion.
Personally I think Retro will always do what is best for Nintendo. When I left it was one team, but I’m sure if Retro wanted to move to more teams they would produce the same stellar work they always have!
 
What was it like when you had the chance to meet some of the higher ups at Nintendo?
Meeting Miyamoto-San at E3-2013 is one of the highlights of my career. I got him to sign my gold NES cartridge of The Legend of Zelda, the very same one I had when I was 6! I even pushed my luck and asked him to sign my DK tie that we were wearing to promote DKC:TF and he not only signed it, he drew DK on it! MIND BLOWN! Easy to say that both Zelda and the tie are framed and hanged in my office.
My biggest regret was seeing Iwata-San at that same E3 but I was too shy to introduce myself to him. I was devastated by his passing.
Thank you for taking the time to do this.
By otakuman5000 On 27 Feb, 2014 At 04:44 PM | Categorized As Featured, NINTENDO, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments

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First Appeared on The Legend of Lorie

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

If you’re looking for a challenge on your Nintendo Wii U system, look no further as Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze will most likely make you go bananas… in a good way, of course. Retro Studios brings a direct sequel to Donkey Kong Country Returns giving players a new adventure, additional playable characters, and unique ways to take on brand new, gorgeous levels.

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze takes place after the Nintendo Wii title, Donkey Kong Country Returns. Starting the game, you see Donkey Kong and his friends watch as their home is overrun by animal vikings known as the “Snomads” who freeze Donkey Kong’s island. Donkey Kong and his gang set off in an attempt to take back their home traversing through water levels, icy terrains, and many other challenges.

Snomads
The evil snowmads that are the new enemies in Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze.

If you’ve played the previous Donkey Kong Country games, you’ll be very familiar with the frustrating yet addicting platforming mechanics. Donkey Kong can roll, jump, and ground smash his way through enemies and obstacles. Besides your basic maneuvering on the ground, Donkey Kong and the gang will need to swing on vines, travel on various vehicles and animals, and now swim through treacherous deterrents. Controlling DK and the gang while swimming will take some time getting used to at first as the controls were a bit shaky, however, I was surprised at the attention to detail that was given to the newly added swimming gameplay. If you were to jump in the water, DK gracefully dives right in instead of his normal clunky, gorilla jump. In addition to the new underwater levels and swimming mechanics; the vehicles in Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze have been revamped a bit. When riding in a mine cart, the screen will sometimes switch to 3D where controls will be shifted to navigate the cart by jumping from side to side. This happens interchangeably from side scrolling, to 3D, and  then viewing the game from above.  This adds a slightly new challenge to the already difficult mine cart levels. Speaking of difficulty, the Donkey Kong Country series has been known to give even the best of platformer gamers nightmares but in Tropical Freeze, the difficulty has been toned down a notch. Now don’t get me wrong, this game is still incredibly difficult. If you press the jump button too hard while on a mine cart level, you’ll hit an enemy flying only inches above the track or an incorrectly timed barrel shot will equal your inevitable demise. Nintendo, however, added a few things to make DK’s adventure a little bit easier for players like a shield power up you can buy from Funky Kong’s shop to help you pass that frustrating mine cart level. Regardless, if you’re a patient person then you’ll be looked at as a saint in the gaming community for beating a pretty difficult game.

DKCTF
Underwater levels are a new and fun addition to the Donkey Kong Country series.

Retro Studios has done an amazing job at rebooting an already beloved video game that originally released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System about 20 years ago. One of the most notable things has been the revamped soundtrack and the stunning graphics. A new soundtrack has been added to Tropical Freeze but veterans of the Donkey Kong Country series will notice a couple of tracks that sound a bit familiar. Why does it sound so familiar? Because David Wise, the original composer of the Donkey Kong Country series, was brought back on board for Tropical Freeze. You’ll find yourself humming or bobbing your head to the catchy, island-y type tunes that are in this game. On the subject of island-y type… “things”, the graphics in Tropical Freeze are beautiful. DK’s home has been transformed into an tropical mix of arctic and fire-y madness. Many levels take place in chaotic situations that DK and his gang have to escape from. One specific example that was actually one of my favorites in the game was a level that took place inside of a tornado. I found myself several times putting the controller down and just gawking at some of the brilliantly thought out levels and scenery. If you’re like me and notice the little things, you’ll see that the updated graphics have improved on the Wii U system. Donkey Kong looks “fuzzy” and you’ll notice Cranky Kong’s wrinkles in his muzzle. Basically, the game is gorgeous and it looks absolutely flawless playing on the television and off-screen on the Wii U Game pad. Tropical Freeze does not utilize the Wii U game pad in anyway except for having the ability to play off screen while leaving the main television screen available for another activity. I was slightly disappointed that there was not as much integration with the Wii U game pad but was still satisfied with the ability to play the game on the game pad when someone else in my household demanded the main television.

I’ve mentioned a few times in this review already but obviously Donkey Kong can’t save his island alone and in Tropical Freeze he has more than just Diddy Kong to help him on his quest. Besides Diddy Kong, additional playable characters have been added to the game with nifty abilities that will help with certain challenges players will come across. Diddy and Donkey Kong’s blonde haired friend, Dixie Kong, joins the gang and has some pretty useful tricks up her sleeve… or should we say ponytail? Look for the barrel with the cute, pink text to release Dixie and utilize her helicopter-like pony tail ability. This ability will help Donkey Kong hover in the air after a jump and will also lift him higher for a bit. If you’re playing as Dixie in co-operative mode, Dixie uses a bubble gun and a projectile and can also double jump. Cranky Kong also joins the team this time and even though he’s old, he is definitely still useful to Donkey Kong. Cranky can use his cane to bounce DK off of the ground and traverse through terrains that contain spikes or thorns. If you’re playing as Cranky Kong in co-operative mode, he throws dentures at enemies as his projectile weapon. With all of these playable characters; when you collect 100 bananas, you can utilize a new ability called “Kong Pow”. When you use Diddy Kong’s kong pow, all enemies on the screen will be turned into red balloons which are extra lives. If you use Dixie Kong’s kong pow, all of the enemies on the screen will turn into golden hearts which allow Donkey Kong to withstand one more hit before depleting red hearts. Last but not least, if you use Cranky Kong’s kong pow ability, all enemies into banana coins which allows players to purchase items from Funky Kong’s shop. With the addition of these characters, tackling the challenges in Tropical Freeze makes things a bit more interesting.

After collecting 100 bananas, players can activate the "kong pow" ability which does different things depending on which character DK is partied with.
After collecting 100 bananas, players can activate the “kong pow” ability which does different things depending on which character DK is partied with.

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is a fantastic addition to the Donkey Kong Country series. Fans of the Donkey Kong Country series will instantly recognize the upbeat music, the difficult yet addicting platforming mechanics, and the memorable characters that really make the Donkey Kong Country series special. Don’t be fooled, however, this game is different from it’s predecessor. With a new story, new ways to take on the environment, additional playable characters, and a brand new soundtrack; you’d be doing yourself a disservice to not have this game in your Wii U library.