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Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze feels more like DLC than a sequel

As a pretext, the DKC trilogy on SNES are some of my favorite games of all time. Getting DKC for Christmas and flipping tf out is still burned into my memory. When DKC Returns came out for the Wii, I hadn't played the trilogy since they came out when I was a kid. I was overly enthusiastic about the game, got it on release and loved it. At the time it was a perfect combination of old/new and nostalgia. An absolute nostalgia bomb that I ate up really, considering how long its been since I've originally played the games. It's still one of my favorite games on the Wii.

 

Since that time, I've actually gone back and replayed the trilogy (hooked up my SNES to an old crt) off and on over the last few years. My favorite of the 3 has changed from the first game to 2. 3 is still my least favorite, but I think I appreciate it more now for what it did.

 

When I finally got my hands on Tropical Freeze (for the switch, i skipped the Wii U), I was really excited. But as I played I couldn't help but be a little…. underwhelmed?

 

The mechanics of the game are absolutely spot on. They got rid of that blow mechanic from the first game, which was good. The platforming feels as good as anything I've ever played.

 

But the game's content, didn't feel like it really added anything new aside from selecting 2 new Kongs. Even tho your given a choice between Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky, there is absolutely no reason to use any other Kong other than Dixie. There were a few times where you had to use Cranky in order to get a collectable, or secret exit. I almost wish they just had Donkey and Dixie featured in the game. Or give us more reason to use Diddy over Dixie.

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The game's bonus rooms were just terrible. Every. single. one. was a banana collection. And it was the exact same 6 or 8 rooms through the whole game. If you have 2 bonus rooms per level, and less than a dozen different types of rooms – I stopped bothering to get puzzle pieces because I didn't want to play the same bonus room again. In DKC2, we had bash the baddies, find the coin, bonus rooms with animals, and the rooms were themed based on the world you were in. These rooms really really annoyed me.

 

The level design I'm torn on. They're well done, but there is absolutely no verticality in these levels. There was 1 level that actually went up (it was 6-6), and its one of my favorite levels in the game. Every level is so very horizontal.

 

The difficulty in the levels seemed to irk me some. It seems that the difficult in the game lies entirely on whether you have Dixie riding on your back. When you have her, the platforming is very forgiving. When you don't have her, the platforming can be very challenging. I imagine balancing the levels when one can float and lift, or not is incredibly challenging. I'm not sure how I feel about the challenge of the game coming from whether or not I have a specific character or not, but it was something I definitely picked up as I was playing.

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I feel like the whole game is a missed opportunity in expanding what they did in the first game. It feels like bonus DLC game levels than a full fledged platformer sequel. Granted its 6 full worlds, but it seems like just missing something to me.

 

In the first DKC Returns they introduced a new vehicle, the rocket, to go along with the original's mine cart levels. Awesome. Why couldn't we bring in a new type of vehicle this game. I enjoyed how the mine cart went 3D for a few levels with multiple paths, so that was almost like a whole new vehicle. Why the hell is the only animal buddy still Rambi? And the levels with Rambi play out like vehicle levels. We couldn't incorporate some other animal buddies into the game? I really missed having the other animal buddies in this one.

 

I guess if my biggest complaints were the bonus rooms, lack of animal buddies and some much needed vertical movement in the levels – that's pretty damn good.

 

It is a terrific platformer, and I would consider it a must play if you enjoy platformers. I just walked away a bit, whelmed? Maybe I expected too much or was over-hyped a bit? Maybe going back and re-playing the originals made me realize how great DKC2 really is.

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Thank you for reading my rants.

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