I recently completed a game out of my backlog a couple of weekends ago. My brother and I have had a long time fascination for playing local coop games. We used to spend tons of hours in games like Halo, Gears of War and others. Relatively recently, when Donkey Kong Country Returns came out, I was excited, but had no idea what kind of coop fun this game held. It didn’t disappoint, and it was easily one of the best coop experiences I’ve ever had. It was super fun, ultra challenging, with deaths that never frustrated but made me laugh at times. Combine that with the charm Retro Studios was able to add in thing likes character and enemy animations, it was the total package.
We elected to do the same when Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze came out. I had actually just moved out, so playing local coop was a bit of a challenge, so this adventure took a few years to actually complete. Not having online multiplayer definitely had something to do with it taking as long as it did, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Playing a game like this together is miles better than the alternative.
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze brought more of the same that its predecessor did. Where the game really comes together are it’s enemies. There are many exuberant bosses to take on. Even outside of that, the regular enemies are great. What really is impressive is those titan type monsters that lurk in the back ground, playing as part of the environment, but being a direct threat to your progression.
I loved guys like this
and especially this guy
I love the personality that these guys exhibit. They are animated so well, and their eyes tell a story and show how menacing they are. They are both terrifying, yet adorable and I can’t get enough of them. Seeing that gigantic squid’s big eyes following your every movement just makes the situation so tense. But the boss that takes the cake, is none other than…
Lord Fredrik, The Snowmad King
Lord Fredrik is the final boss of Tropical Freeze, and he took us a couple sittings to defeat. But that weekend, we knew we were near the end of this long journey, and we decided then and there, we were not stopping until we defeated this fat bastard. We played through many times, and after several game overs, things were looking bleak. The boss encounter was fun, but really needs some precision in timing the jumps that actually deal damage. Jump too late, you miss him entirely, but jump too early, you and your team mate take damage, as he rears up his massive horns.
We needed to do something, we couldn’t let this guy have the last laugh. Fredrik was starting to become annoying, as he would taunt us by dancing in the middle of the fight. The nerve…
We decided to use the mass amount of coins we accumulated through the game, and buy as many lives as we could, to prolong the fight. We ended up with 99 lives. We thought surely, this would help turn the tide, and have us avoid needing to hit the game over screen so much. We made it a bit further each time, but still no luck. Quickly our lives dwindled. We hit 70 lives, no biggie, there’s still quite a bit to go, 50 lives, okay, not bad, 30 lives, um… what’s going on? 10 lives, WTF!!!! HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN!
An hour later, and much after my brothers desired time of departure, we actually hit ZERO lives. All confidence was lost at this point, and we were ready to throw in the towel. Even my parents were baffled that we didn’t beat him yet. We started the fight, expecting this to be the end, and ready to call it a night. Diddy Kong is taken out part way through, but I stick around, two hearts in stock. Getting closer to the end, I take a key hit, and now I’m down to only one heart. One more hit, and it’s game over. Lord Fredrik charges up and starts charging towards me. I land a hit, and with my obsessive counting, I realize one more hit, and Lord Fredrik is history.
These are the only parts of the fight where you can actually damage Lord Fredrik. However these jumps are very hard to time, combine that with his increased charging speed near the end of the fight, it’s a scary moment, as taking damage is likely. I jump and a miracle happens, Lord Fredrik takes a hit, and the games over!
The crowd goes wild! My brother jumps off the couch screaming in excitement. Even my parents are relieved, because they witnessed the whole ordeal, and now they can finally go home. It was epic, and most incredible way to end the game. Down to one hit remaining before a game over, and I land the clutch hit after giving up 99 lives. It’s like hitting an overtime 3 pointer that wins you the NBA title.
I can’t stress how much fun and rewarding this whole encounter was. Despite constantly dying over and over again, the Donkey Kong Country formula never fails to to be fun. Whether it’s the SNES classics, or the most modern version of the game, it’s some of the best coop fun one can have. For it to end this way was incredible. I’ve played my fair share of cinematic, deep story driven single player games, from being Jedi’s to Witcher’s, to Shepards of the galaxy, no video game ending has satisfied me this much.
It’s experiences like this that really make me want more games like this. I really hope some form of Donkey Kong Country is in the works. I’d really love if Retro Studios was still the developers, as they’ve clearly found a winning formula for the franchise, and I adore they way they bring the characters and enemies to life through it’s superb animations. I hope the poor sales don’t deter Nintendo from making more of these games. It was clearly a quality game, that failed to sell well because it didn’t quite have a big install base on the Wii U, and just the overall perception of the console at the time was it was already dying.
I could see this franchise reaching new heights on the Nintendo Switch. Whether you are playing on the go, or on the couch, Imagine handing over your spare joycon to your buddy or loved ones, and jumping right into some more great coop madness.
What did you think of Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze? Do you want another game in this series? Are there any epic ways you ended a video game that made you feel like you were on top of the world? Let’s discuss in the comments!