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E3 2013: Impressions: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
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E3 2013: Impressions: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Donkey Kong returns once more in Retro Studios’ newest platformer, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

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While it may not be the ‘hidden’ Zelda title many hoped, Nintendo has once again recruited one of the very best development teams in the industry to lead their ‘other’ mascot in a new, if familiar, sequel that should make fans of gorilla platforming very happy in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for Wii U. With Retro Studios back in the saddle this is the direct sequel to the 2010 Wii game (and more recent 3DS reissue) that helped bring Nintendo’s original banana bad boy back to the masses.

This time our favorite Kong family sees their island invaded by a group of nasty Vikings, animal Vikings, that is. Evil walruses, penguins and others all want to make Donkey and Diddy’s day a lot hairier than usual.

Fans can expect much of the same gameplay that made Donkey Kong Country Returns such a great return-to-form for the franchise. Mine cart races, pixel-perfect platforming, double-jumping hazards and plenty of barrel-blasting coordination. And don’t look for much hand-holding, as the game looks to be as difficult and hair-pulling as the first, though we’re sure a certain silverback gorilla will be present to land a friendly hand when things get tough. Expect full GamePad and off-screen play, meaning you’ll get a waggle-free experience for even better gameplay.

This might sound like a small detail, but the camera is noticeably smoother and follows the action a lot more intuitively now. When Donkey blasts his way across caverns and dives underwater it follows without a hitch; again, this might seem trivial, but in a twitch-style platform game every little bit helps and the game’s framerate seems to be off the charts silky smooth.

But let’s get one thing out of the way: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze looks AMAZING. This may be the best-looking Wii U game I’ve ever seen, and it’s easily one of the most impressive of any game at the show. Not that this comes as a surprise, as Retro’s first DKCR was among the most visually impressive (original) Wii games. Take everything that was great about that version and quantify it by ten; seeing Donkey and Company rendered in crystal-clear HD makes the series come alive like never before – or like any platformer I’ve ever seen. This is truly next-gen stuff, as Retro’s character designs and little attention to details and animations are too much fun to gaze at.

Fans should note that Dixie Kong is expected to showcase her twirling self in the final version, so if you’ve been missing her all these years get ready for a family reunion – Donkey-style.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze banana slaps onto the Wii U this October.

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About the Author: Nathan Evans