Even more than Hollywood, the video game industry is dominated by sequels and reboots. Last year’s top 10 best-selling games list is peppered with 4’s, 5’s, and even a 25 (oh, Madden). The prevailing wisdom seems to be: If something works, do it again and again until you run it into the ground, then wait a few years and do it again. This week sees several reboots and sequels of reboots hitting the shelves, to decidedly mixed results.
Donkey Kong Country was a hugely popular platformer on the Super Nintendo that suffered from too many sequels that offered too few new ideas in too short a time span. Nintendo wisely retired the formula for more than a decade before going back to the jungle with 2010’s Donkey Kong Country Returns on Wii, which was re-released on 3DS last year. Unfortunately, history is repeating itself, as Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself, despite running on new hardware. The Wii U is struggling mightily to make a case for itself, and Tropical Freeze does nothing to take advantage of the Wii U’s unique tablet controller.
At least the game looks good, proving that the console can pump out vibrant HD graphics. The environments are varied and beautifully rendered, and Donkey Kong’s fur has never looked more lush. But the Pixar-esque graphics are at complete odds with the absolutely punishing difficulty level. Tropical Freeze is maddeningly hard, its levels full of so many cheap shots and bottomless pits that it would likely drive its intended kiddie audience to tears — and leave adults wanting to chuck their Wii U controllers in frustration. Tropical Freeze is a solid game, and die-hard platformer fans may find its steep challenge fiendishly addictive, but it’s oddly uninspired, at a time when Nintendo could use a whole lot of inspiration. READ FULL STORY