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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Expectations

by Justin Baker, Curtis Bonds, Andrew Brown, J.P. Corbran, Alex Culafi, Andy Goergen, Tom Malina, Neal Ronaghan, and Scott Thompson - January 27, 2014, 8:51 am PST
Total comments: 24

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze will exceed our expectations if...

As Nintendo prepares to unleash it's latest AAA 2D platformer, there's a certain sense of uncertainty amongst many Nintendo fans. While most would agree that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is sure to be a high quality experience, some of us are somewhat underwhelmed by the idea of a sequel to the highly reviewed 2010 original. We took a sample from our staff to see what Nintendo World Report thinks about the latest DKC title.



Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze will exceed my expectations if...

Andy Goergen, Managing Editor:
...there is a substantial variation in environment. While the jungle aesthetic is most closely associated with the DKC games, we've already seen four of those now. When everything else about this game screams "MORE OF THE SAME!" what I really want is some really cool environments to platform in. I'd love to see some urban environments. Maybe Donkey Kong and friends could bandy about in an abandoned city, grabbing onto old wires and climbing up buildings like in Rampage. I want something that makes me rethink what a Donkey Kong Country game could be.

Justin Baker, Reviews Editor:
...they scrap the entire project and turn it into a Metroid game. Donkey Kong Country Returns was a decent little experiment, but it certainly didn't blow me away. Tropical Freeze looks like a perfectly fine continuation, but nothing that will change how I already feel about the series. I could care less that they've added a Kong or two and given the game a new aesthetic. Give me Metroid!

Alex Culafi, Previews Editor:
...it's better than the original in every way and its new mechanics prove especially meaningful to the final product. I also want it to be just as challenging as the first game, if not more so. If Tropical Freeze is noticeably easier than Donkey Kong Country Returns, the game has failed my expectations. A modern, easy DKC game does not deserve to exist. Still better than any potential Metroid game though.

Neal Ronaghan, Site Director:
...at the end of the game, the castle flips over and it's Symphony of the Night, or it turns into Metroid Prime 4 with the Kongs halfway through. Really, the only way Tropical Freeze will exceed my expectation is if it does something really out there that works well. That's a tall order, but I feel like the game will be "what you see is what you get." As it stands, it looks like it follows the same formula of Donkey Kong Country games, which isn't bad, just unexciting. I expect a polished 2D platformer that I'll enjoy. I want to be blown away. I don't think I'll be blown away, unfortunately. There isn't much doubt in my mind that I will enjoy Tropical Freeze, but I don't expect to love it. I hope I'm wrong.

J.P. Corbran, Community Manager:
...it's better than the first one. I've called Donkey Kong Country Returns the best 2D platformer of the past 20 years, and if the good folks at Retro can outdo themselves and take the best elements of that game and mix in some new ideas to create an even better set of levels I will be extremely happy.

Andrew Brown, Australian Correspondent:
To be honest, as long as the game even MEETS my expectations I'll be thrilled with it, considering it already looks incredible. During Nintendo's E3 media briefing (I wonder how much the lack of a proper press conference affected their current sales, by the way), I let out a girlish gasp of excitement upon the reveal of Dave Wise's contribution to the game. I hope they allow him to remix some of the original DKC2's soundtrack for the game, and the music isn't just a bunch of rehashed tracks from Returns. I agree with Culafi's comments on the difficulty; this thing should be nail-bitingly hard.

Scott Thompson, Podcast Editor:
...there is a great Dankey Kang reference in the localization. Just kidding! I don't think DKC can surpass my expectations because the bar is already set pretty high. The return of Dixie warms my old heart, and I'm beyond excited to see one of the best looking Wii games transitioned to an HD system. I adored DKCR (I think it's the best 2D platformer to come from Nintendo since this whole revival started with New Super Mario Bros.), and even if DCK:TF is simply a pretty level pack, I'm all in.

Curtis Bonds, Associate Editor:
...the game pulls a fast one on us and is actually a full 3D platformer at a certain point. Don't get me wrong, I feel like the people over at Retro made sure that this is a fantastic game, but at the same time I feel like there's nothing in this game that hasn't already been accomplished by the Wii version. Perhaps that's a testament to just how good the Wii version looked, felt, and played. It felt as if Retro scratched an itch that needed to be scratched for a long long time, but kept on scratching despite already feeling relieved. It doesn't feel bad, but I wish they would spend that effort on something a bit more worthwhile.

Tom Malina, UK Correspondant:
...it turns out to be one of the best platformers ever made. Even though it wasn't the most groundbreaking game, Donkey Kong Country Returns was, in my view, the best 2D platform title on Wii. From everything I've seen, I'd anticipate Tropical Freeze as being just as great. After all this time, it's still amusing to see people outraged that the "almighty" Retro Studios would be putting all this effort into something as lowly as DKC, as if platformers are so easy to make that this is therefore somehow beneath them. I doubt you'd find another entry in this genre that achieves better variety and delivers greater execution on that variety than Retro's Donkey Kong titles. Does this game have to set the world on fire to do that?

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze launches in North America and Europe on February 21, 2014.

Talkback

MagicCow64January 27, 2014

I'm hoping some of the unused bonkers level art from the first game will be put into action. It looked like they scrapped an underwater world in the first game, which is in now, which raises my expectations that we'll see a crazy bonus world based on the visuals of the arcade game.

jarodeaJanuary 27, 2014

I'm with Justin Baker on this one.  That's a sour note so I'll leave it at that.

AdrockJanuary 27, 2014

I already have high expectations for this game so nothing less than some crazy bonuses would exceed my expectations. Tropical Freeze looks like a better game than Returns in just about every way. When all is said and done, I will probably have fonder memories of Returns due to it setting the bar. It was simply one of the best games 2D platformers I've ever played.

If I go hunting for the soundtrack minute one.

broodwarsJanuary 27, 2014

Banana Slamma will exceed my expectations if it can make me forget that I wish a more interesting game had been made in its place and that I wasn't completely sick of cartoony Nintendo 2D platformers. I'm not holding out hope on that one, despite rather liking the original DKCR.  Like many others, I think this game will be exactly what we expect it to be: a very polished, difficult 2D platformer that nonetheless has no reason to exist.

AdrockJanuary 28, 2014

Isn't being good the only reason for any game to exist?

And didn't you preorder this game? "I'm sick of these kinds of games, but I'm going to buy this anyway" kind of seems like the wrong message you want to send Nintendo.

KhushrenadaJanuary 28, 2014

... if the Kremlings and K. Rool are in it. But they aren't so I'll just have to accept this game on its own merits. However, with David Wise back for the score, in some ways this game has already exceeded expectations.

AdrockJanuary 28, 2014

I remember hearing people laud David Wise, but I wasn't familiar with him. I watched the recent videos and there's a marked improvement over Returns' music so I'm glad Retro Studios went out of their way.

broodwarsJanuary 28, 2014

Quote from: Adrock

And didn't you preorder this game? "I'm sick of these kinds of games, but I'm going to buy this anyway" kind of seems like the wrong message you want to send Nintendo.

Yes, I did, because I'm on a gaming podcast that talks about, among other things, Nintendo games. It's not like the game's going to drop in price later unless it is a colossal bomb of Other M/Sin & Punishment 2 proportions, so if I'm going to buy it there's really no reason to not just get it now and have some basis for podcast discussion.

Ian SaneJanuary 28, 2014

If Nintendo were just not so dumb to be all coy and secretive about what Retro was working on then I probably wouldn't be so disinterested.  I see the game as a physical representation of how out-of-touch and incompetent Nintendo has become.  Actually I see the whole Wii U as that.

I'm sick of 2D platformers from Nintendo, which is something I couldn't possibly imagine myself saying ten years ago when I was begging Nintendo to stop giving us ports on the GBA and to give us a new 2D Mario game.  But while DKC Tropical Freeze is not the right game for the here and now there probably will be a time where Nintendo isn't so 2D platformer crazy (hopefully this would be from Nintendo getting their act together and not going under) and this would be exactly the sort of game I would want to play, along with NSMB U.  I'm just overloaded on the genre and need some time to miss it again.

I think what would exceed my expectations is if this game turned the Wii U around.  It won't since I feel the Wii U's over-reliance on nostalgia and retro game design is a big reason why the Wii U is a flop.  Nintendo is not offering anything new so it would make no sense for cliché Mario games to fail to move the system only for a cliché Donkey Kong game to do so.

KhushrenadaJanuary 28, 2014

Quote from: broodwars

Yes, I did, because I'm on a gaming podcast that talks about, among other things, Nintendo games. It's not like the game's going to drop in price later unless it is a colossal bomb of Other M/Sin & Punishment 2 proportions, so if I'm going to buy it there's really no reason to not just get it now and have some basis for podcast discussion.

Ha ha ha. You know, no one will think less of you for just admitting that you like the game and Donkey Kong. As much as you want to pretend that you are so disinterested and try to play off that by calling it Banana Slamma, you're commenting steady on it and even have it on pre-order "for podcast purposes." It's 2014, dude. If you love the big hairy apes, you don't have to hide it. You can come out of the jungle and proudly declare your monkey love. But if you've got to tell yourself those little lies to sleep at night, you do what you gotta do. DK says "HO-yeeeeee!" No ever knows what he's saying.

broodwarsJanuary 28, 2014

Quote from: Khushrenada

Quote from: broodwars

Yes, I did, because I'm on a gaming podcast that talks about, among other things, Nintendo games. It's not like the game's going to drop in price later unless it is a colossal bomb of Other M/Sin & Punishment 2 proportions, so if I'm going to buy it there's really no reason to not just get it now and have some basis for podcast discussion.

Ha ha ha. You know, no one will think less of you for just admitting that you like the game and Donkey Kong. As much as you want to pretend that you are so disinterested and try to play off that by calling it Banana Slamma, you're commenting steady on it and even have it on pre-order "for podcast purposes." It's 2014, dude. If you love the big hairy apes, you don't have to hide it. You can come out of the jungle and proudly declare your monkey love. But if you've got to tell yourself those little lies to sleep at night, you do what you gotta do. DK says "HO-yeeeeee!" No ever knows what he's saying.

I believe I've said multiple times now in this thread that I liked Donkey Kong Country returns.  I also don't believe I've once disparaged the quality of the game.  I make fun of the name because it's stupid, and I call it "Banana Slamma" because of...well...THIS gem from DK history:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTGMS3jDxV0

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm sure the game will be fine. I just find it impossible to get excited for that game, and neither Retro nor Nintendo have sufficiently established why this game was worth 3+ years of critical Wii U development time from one of Nintendo's best studios over...well...just about anything else that could be more exciting than yet another Wii U 2D mascot platformer.

AdrockJanuary 28, 2014

Donkey Kong Country Returns is Retro Studios' highest selling game by a fair margin. There wasn't a better project for them to have spent 3+ years of critical Wii U development time if the idea is to reach as many people as possible unless they were given Mario or Zelda.

And no one is even implying that you are disparaging the quality of Tropical Freeze. It's just odd that you continually grouse about how you're not excited about the game (which, itself, is fine albeit exhausting to repeatedly hear) then turn around and pre-order it. Your entire reasoning for this is so you can talk about it on a podcast. Fine, I guess if that's what you want to do, that's certainly your prerogative. It just raises a few eyebrows. There's a pretty good chance most of us, in your shoes, would just pick something else to talk about on the podcast that not only costs considerably less than $60 but also doesn't encourage Nintendo to make more 2D platformers. Buying the game makes you part of your entire problem with the game.

broodwarsJanuary 28, 2014

Quote from: Adrock

There's a pretty good chance most of us, in your shoes, would just pick something else to talk about on the podcast that not only costs considerably less than $60 but also doesn't encourage Nintendo to make more 2D platformers. Buying the game makes you part of your entire problem with the game.

*shrugs*

Meh...if my wallet had any actual draw with Nintendo, they would have changed their ways years ago. Nintendo has shown they will make the games they make regardless of whether they get my money, so I don't consider that argument particularly valid in this case.

And frankly, I consider the "well look at the sales of DKCR!" argument just as tired as you seem to be of people not being excited by Yet Another DKC game, especially since the Wii U has been floundering on a software lineup composed OF sequels to games that sold well on the previous console.  And since when does a by-the-numbers retro 2D platformer take 3+ years to make in this day & age?

In any case, we'll see how DKC is when it comes out. Sorry my "grousing" (limited to maybe 1-2 topics every other month as it is, as opposed to...well, let's just say "others' " complaining about Nintendo-related things) about Nintendo's missed opportunities bothers you, but this is a topic about expectations and Nintendo is a master of setting them spectacularly low.

Ian SaneJanuary 28, 2014

Quote from: Adrock

Donkey Kong Country Returns is Retro Studios' highest selling game by a fair margin. There wasn't a better project for them to have spent 3+ years of critical Wii U development time if the idea is to reach as many people as possible unless they were given Mario or Zelda.

That's probably both Retro's and Nintendo's logic as well as the same logic used to prioritize NSMB U as a launch title.  The problem is a lack of self-awareness on Nintendo's part.  They didn't acknowledge what a freak once-in-a-lifetime success the Wii was.  So they make decisions based on a naïve assumption that that gravy train would keep rolling forever when it didn't even roll on for the entire lifetime of the Wii.  Essentially every Wii game's sales are inflated and doesn't represent the proper sales potential of the IP.  Or at the very least they need to compare percentages.  What percentage of Wii owners bought DKC Returns and what sort of Wii sales increase coincided with its release?  It would be a fair assumption to predict that Tropical Freeze will sell to a similar percentage but the Wii U userbase is much smaller so it will be a smaller amount of sales.  The big system seller on the Wii was probably Wii Sports and games like NSMB and DKC may very well have sold well to an existing userbase but didn't necessarily influence Wii purchases.

But to me it's as simple as Nintendo thinking "Okay, we can't crank out these HD games as quickly so for the first few years we need to make each game count.  We better spread the wealth around multiple genres so Retro, it makes no sense at this point to focus on DKC when we've already got NSMB in the pipeline.  We'll go with something more distinct and later on we can go back to DKC."  They didn't.  They greenlit several platformers, most of them sidescrollers, while entire genres are unrepresented.  This is like going to Thanksgiving dinner and you have three different bowls of mashed potatoes, two turkeys but no stuffing, no cranberry sauce and no pumpkin pie.  It makes no sense to have EAD, Retro and Goodfeel all working on the same genre at the same time when you're strapped for games and development time is long.

Mop it upJanuary 28, 2014

I expect it to be awesome and nobody's happy.

AdrockJanuary 28, 2014

Quote from: broodwars

Meh...if my wallet had any actual draw with Nintendo, they would have changed their ways years ago. Nintendo has shown they will make the games they make regardless of whether they get my money, so I don't consider that argument particularly valid in this case.

And frankly, I consider the "well look at the sales of DKCR!" argument just as tired as you seem to be of people not being excited by Yet Another DKC game, especially since the Wii U has been floundering on a software lineup composed OF sequels to games that sold well on the previous console.  And since when does a by-the-numbers retro 2D platformer take 3+ years to make in this day & age?

It's pretty hypocritical to complain about a game's existence then buy that game. Hiding behind what is essentially "I'm just one person, what difference could I possibly make?" doesn't really change that.

You're claiming that Nintendo and Retro Studios have not sufficiently established why the game was worth the development time and I don't really think it's up for debate. When a game sells well, companies typically look to capitalize. That's the entire industry. I'm not defending that practice, just pointing out the obvious in response to your claim.

Tropical Freeze is what we have and I accept it for what it is. Artistically speaking, sure, I would have preferred an original IP or even a return to Metroid (since collectively, it's my favorite series) despite how much as I enjoyed Returns. Alas, it was not to be. Should Nintendo and Retro Studios have to defend their choice from an artistic standpoint? I guess that's where we disagree. "Because they wanted to" works for me.

Quote from: Mop

I expect it to be awesome and nobody's happy.

Hey!

SarailJanuary 28, 2014

Quote from: Mop

I expect it to be awesome and nobody's happy.

I'll be nobody! :D Eagerly looking forward to this game, and to hear David Wise's melodies enter my ear holes.

MagicCow64January 28, 2014

I think the reason DKCR was so good is precisely because it had a lengthy development cycle from an extremely talented studio. And the fact that it's better than other 2D platformers made by full studios (NSMB Wii/U, Rayman Origins/Legends) speaks to Retro's talent.


That said, I still don't really believe that Tropical Freeze is all Retro has been working on, despite their denials. They already cut their teeth on the first game, and I'm guessing they were able to re-use a lot of fundamental code and art assets the second time around. Plus all the eye-brow raising hires that wouldn't make sense in the context of just DKC.


But, even if they were only working on TF for the last few years, the release timing puts them in an interesting position. Do they start (or continue working on) a new game slated to come out in 2017 on a functionally mothballed WiiU, or does Nintendo set them up on a launch title for an early WiiU replacement?

broodwarsJanuary 28, 2014

Quote from: MagicCow64

But, even if they were only working on TF for the last few years, the release timing puts them in an interesting position. Do they start (or continue working on) a new game slated to come out in 2017 on a functionally mothballed WiiU, or does Nintendo set them up on a launch title for an early WiiU replacement?

I think the answer to that question is pretty obvious: Nintendo takes the 3rd door and assigns them a 3DS game, probably a 3DS version of Banana Slamma.  Unless the Wii U's fortunes drastically turn around in the very near future, Retro's done on the Wii U.

Quote from: broodwars

Quote from: MagicCow64

But, even if they were only working on TF for the last few years, the release timing puts them in an interesting position. Do they start (or continue working on) a new game slated to come out in 2017 on a functionally mothballed WiiU, or does Nintendo set them up on a launch title for an early WiiU replacement?

I think the answer to that question is pretty obvious: Nintendo takes the 3rd door and assigns them a 3DS game, probably a 3DS version of Banana Slamma.  Unless the Wii U's fortunes drastically turn around in the very near future, Retro's done on the Wii U.

2017 would be five years after the Wii U launch. Even if the system were fairly successful I'd expect its successor to launch around then at the latest. They could also build it with the intention of it being something they could put on either, or both.

ShyGuyJanuary 28, 2014

Quote from: Mop

I expect it to be awesome and nobody's happy.

http://i91.photobucket.com/albums/k302/shyguy70/ck_zps2af24214.png

Ian SaneJanuary 29, 2014

When you cut out the rest of his face like that DK looks like a big clam.

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