Games of 2014: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

When I reviewed Tropical Freeze, I called it a ‘spectacle platformer’ – partly because the presentation is such a part of the appeal but also because each level feels like an extended set-piece, often with the level collapsing all around you. It reminded me at times of Uncharted, except here you’re afforded more control – even though you’re moving through 2D rather than 3D space. Yet it’s similar in the sense that you still feel like a stuntman missing their cues when it all goes wrong, and each lost life is a chance for the director to reassemble the set and shout ‘action!’ once more. But there’s more of a sense of achievement when you get past a tricky bit, and it looks great when you string a series of moves together to narrowly escape disaster.

It’s one of those games that perhaps doesn’t innovate enough for some people, and that’s why it got a slightly sniffy critical response in some quarters. Some expect a progression in design as well as visuals, and that’s fair enough, but I don’t expect every game to do something completely different, and I think there’s something to be said for a really solidly made genre piece put together with evident craftsmanship. Classic design never really goes out of fashion, and sometimes it’s good to sit back with something familiar but very well put-together. There might be plenty of side-scrolling platformers around, but that doesn’t mean there are many very good ones. Tropical Freeze is surely one of the best of its kind in recent years.

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