CGR Undertow – DONKEY KONG COUNTRY: TROPICAL FREEZE review for Nintendo Wii U


Okay, so it doesn’t take much to buy me off. Big
deal. Everybody’s got a price. And some of us have discount prices, don’t be a dick
about it. Doesn’t always take much to get results. Actually, this is a great example
of that. When you have a game as amazing as Donkey Kong Country Returns and you want to
make a sequel…well, it doesn’t take much. This is like Returns Returns. I mean, it’s
just more Donkey Kong. Only this time, he’s cold. It’s Donkey
Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Now, I don’t just mean it’s cold because,
“Oh, there’s an evil race of penguins and the game’s called Tropical Freeze, so
it’s cold.” No, I mean this game, is cold. Seriously, you’re gonna lose monkeys like
a one-eyed zookeeper, in this game. Crumbling platforms, unexpected spikes? That’s just
the beginning. Wait ’til you get to the special Kong levels. And you’re doing stuff like this. And this. Which is usually followed by this. Told you…game’s
cold. Of course, game’s pretty awesome, too. Tropical
Freeze is a masterful platformer. And what’s interesting about it…is that, even though
it doesn’t stray very far from the original, in terms of its gameplay, it gets creative
with just about everything else. And it does it within the context of the series. So like,
the mine cart levels. Classic Donkey Kong Country, right? And Tropical Freeze has lots of ‘em. But
at the same time, it also reinvents them. So for example, there’s a huge sawmill…where
you’re riding a mine cart, you fall out of the mine cart…and you land inside a log.
Now it’s a log ride, all the sudden. That is, until you have to go back into the sawmill.
A few spins of the blade… And now it’s a mine cart again. And Tropical Freeze is full of stuff like
that. These awesome moments where something so familiar, and so Donkey Kong…gets a creative
little tweak that makes it even cooler. Oh, and speaking of cool…this game has penguins,
penguins like it cool. And actually, I think the penguins, and the story, and the entire
concept gives people the wrong impression. I mean, you hear Tropical Freeze, and you
think, “Wait, so it’s all snow levels, or…? Has Pauline been replaced with Queen
Elsa?” It’s not at all representative of what’s actually here. Because what’s actually here…are some
of the most colorful, and vibrant, and diverse environments I’ve ever had the pleasure
of platforming through. Mangroves, mountains, caverns, autumn forests…I mean, the game
may be cold, the story may involve ice… But this game’s a lot more tropical than
it is frozen. And you know, it’s not just that the game’s
beautiful. ‘Cause it is beautiful. The graphics, the music…but it’s also that the places
feel alive, even more than a lot of 3D games. There’s always something happening in the
background. And there’s some great foreshadowing, too. You’ll see enemies way off in the distance…only,
later on, they won’t be quite as distant. And that, along with the game’s use of depth,
and how you’re always launching into the backgrounds, or sideways into new grounds…it
makes it seem bigger than a 2D game. It’s almost like a 3D game that happens
to be a side scroller. But actually, I think my favorite thing about
Tropical Freeze…is how the worlds evolve. Not the levels, the worlds. There are six
of them, and of course, each one has its own aesthetic. But this is where it gets interesting.
Because the aesthetic evolves. And I think the savannah world is a great example. In
level one, it’s this picturesque African scene… From there, you move onto a nearby river gorge,
everything’s still upbeat…but in the third level, things start to change. You’re hit
by a dust storm. And it’s gradually getting worse. Suddenly, lighting strikes to strike,
and by the fourth level… That lightning’s turned the savannah into
a hell-scape. It’s the same world, same environment…but
it’s like a whole new place. And the places aren’t the only thing that’s
new. There’s also a couple new Kongs along for the ride. In addition to Diddy Kong, who
returns from the original…you also have Dixie and Cranky. And if you’ve never played
Donkey Kong Country Returns, uh…it’s a little different from the original Country
games in that, the other Kongs aren’t really playable. They’re more like power-ups. And each one
gives Donkey Kong a different ability, but you can really look at them like two groups.
Diddy and Dixie offer temporary boosts in midair. Diddy has jetpacks that let you hover,
and Dixie’s spinning ponytail helps you reach higher ledges. But then there’s Cranky Kong. Who’s, like… The only person in his group is Scrooge McDuck. The new Kongs play a huge role in the game’s
level design. Specifically, the creativity of the level design. By basically adding two
new jumping mechanics, that really opens up the design to a lot of new ideas. You’re
making different kinds of jumps, you might need certain characters to collect certain
items…again, it’s the same core gameplay as the first game. As tight and responsive as ever. Just…tweaked. And added to. And more creative
than ever. And you know, that’s this game in a nutshell.
Or a banana peel, I guess? There’s nothing new here, necessarily…but there’s not
much that’s predictable, either. And when the game does give you something you know,
it spins it around like it’s blasted out of a barrel. Head over heels, twelve times
a second, until what you thought you knew…is blowing your mind all over again. And I’m
not just saying that because the monkey paid me to. Although the monkey did pay me to. It’s Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze,
for the Nintendo Wii U.


100 Responses

  1. wariodude128

    August 3, 2014 1:31 am

    Great review! Now let's hope people don't whine about anything else for you to review for the next little while.

  2. MrWarners14

    August 3, 2014 2:36 am

    I may have had major complaints about his previous reviews but I think this could be his best one yet.

  3. Nick Fernandez

    August 3, 2014 3:13 am

    You peple think this is game of the year? I loved it but i think it comes second to Mario kart 8. DK country tropical Freeze is one of the hardest games i ever played.

  4. ninenine909

    August 3, 2014 4:01 am

    Didn't really like this game much compared to Returns. Still good though. Doesn't top Rayman Legends though. 😉

  5. leafs2234

    August 3, 2014 5:45 am

    This game really isn't that special, it felt dull and overall easier compared to returns, and like i already played it before….. not really exciting at all. Both rayman legends and shovelknight gave me a better, more fun, and more fresh experience than tropical freeze did. It's not very memorable either and i really liked returns.

    In the end i wish this was just a 3d dk game, that would have been fresh.

  6. Jarred Rayl

    August 3, 2014 7:30 am

    Great review Derek! I have been waiting for this one for a while now. And just wondering but, why did it take you guys so long to review this?? It was worth the wait no doubt. O and did you ever get that number? Lol

  7. elNingyou

    August 3, 2014 11:38 am

    Gotta say, I'm kind of disappointed you gave in and reviewed this game and ended the life of one of my favorite please-god-let-the-seriousness-of-this-be-a-joke jokes. Now we'll never know if the requests could have made it into the 2020's. It's a sad day for mildly unsettled amusement.

  8. Brandon Riott

    August 4, 2014 3:43 am

    please just stick to doing normal reviews. there's no need to be like AngryJoe and do 10 minute sketch's before the review starts -.-

  9. Doll Face

    August 4, 2014 6:30 am

    Retro did a really great job on this. I love how challenging and beautiful the game is. The soundtrack in the Savannah is beautiful as well.

  10. Phantom Drags

    August 7, 2014 1:48 am

    Retro is like Rare in a sense. They make great games and push the graphical limits of the system more than Nintendo. The fur effect in this game is amazing! Also, the first two Metroid primes look almost as good as a wii game! And that game was on the gamecube!

  11. Ian Lister

    August 7, 2014 9:04 pm

    Dude that was a great review. The plushy DK stuff was great and well produced. Way to go man!

  12. Ben Daniels

    August 10, 2014 11:51 am

    I cringed when Donkey Kong gave him the game by sliding it on the table. The disc is gonna get scratched!

  13. Yancade hand built games machines

    August 14, 2014 7:46 pm

    Wo…Wow did everything just get switched up a notch? I found CGR through Mark and i stayed for Derek this is literally the greatest review i have seen yet, Just great

  14. Gibson299

    August 18, 2014 2:35 am

    played the demo of this in store. Looks fucking great in HD. even though it's only 720P, honestly love it

  15. Dr.Beef

    August 24, 2014 6:23 am

    I've played this, and I bought DKCR around three years ago.  I can't put my finger on it, but there's something that the originals had that these are missing.   I'm not an overly nostalgic person when it comes to games, either.

  16. Luke, I am your father

    September 16, 2014 5:25 pm

    The stages in this game are beautiful. Probably the best DK game next to DK country 2: diddys kong quest for me.

  17. PlatformChef

    October 2, 2014 12:17 pm

    If Donkey Kong paid you 4 bucks to review Tropical Freeze, Can I pay you $5 to review Sonic Boom rise of Lyric when it come out?

  18. Callum Weaver

    October 3, 2014 6:56 pm

    Really enjoying your reviews. You and Mark have different styles and i do favor yours though you are both really talented.

  19. John Anderson

    March 9, 2015 12:13 pm

    love the review and I love the game I think you really did a good job on this video please keep them coming!

  20. Ricardo Franco

    April 8, 2015 12:13 am

    Awesome game but terrible name. It really gives the impression that it's based mostly on ice levels. Who names these things for Nintendo?? Wii U? Tropical Freeze?

  21. Fluttershy Stays High420

    July 16, 2015 10:17 am

    this game was so damn impossible even Dashie refused to play it again, despite constant begging from fans, and he's known for enduring incredibly unfair difficult games to appease his subs.  lol

  22. TrollBuster

    January 8, 2016 6:43 pm

    So cool! Your top Nintendo game reviews put a smile on my face every time. Keep up the good work.

  23. Yeti Rocket

    March 28, 2016 1:53 am

    "Your either really bad at bribery or this is a threat" I lost it XD LOL! Love that skit at the begining!

  24. Dominik Sobolewski

    April 10, 2016 2:03 pm

    You know what's funny. The song to the CGR Undertow theme I heard note to note in a scene in a porn. I'm guessing that's where he found the song.


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