Between Bayonetta 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the Nintendo Switch has afforded some of Wii U’s best games a second lease on life, with a handful of other titles set to follow suit this year. Along with the upcoming ports of Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Nintendo is bringing one of Wii U’s best platformers, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, to the hybrid system next month, and we had an opportunity to play it ahead of release.
Tropical Freeze is the second Donkey Kong game from Metroid Prime developer Retro Studios, originally launching for Wii U back in 2014. Like Donkey Kong Country Returns before it, the game is a side-scrolling platformer in the vein of Rare’s iconic SNES trilogy, although it introduces a few new elements to the series. In addition to Donkey and Diddy Kong, players can control Dixie and Cranky, both of whom have their own unique abilities. Dixie can hover through the air using her ponytail, while Cranky can use his cane to pogo bounce, DuckTales-style, on enemies and hazards.
On its original release, Tropical Freeze was widely lauded as one of Nintendo’s best modern-day platformers, but the game was also notorious for its steep difficulty. To make the experience more welcoming to newcomers, the Switch version of Tropical Freeze introduces another new playable character, Funky Kong, who serves as a sort of easy mode. In contrast to the other Kongs, Funky can roll and perform underwater corkscrews infinitely. He can also double jump, while his surfboard protects him from spikes and other stage hazards.
We got a chance to go hands-on with the Switch version of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze at PAX East 2018. In the video above, you can watch us play through a handful of the game’s opening levels as Funky Kong, so you can see just how he differs from the game’s other playable characters. You can also get a sense of how Tropical Freeze looks and plays on Switch; as expected, aside from some faster load times, the game doesn’t look noticeably different from the Wii U version, although it plays just as well on the hybrid system.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze launches for Nintendo Switch on May 4. Nintendo first announced the title during its big Direct presentation this past January. You can see additional footage of Tropical Freeze for Switch in its latest gameplay trailer.