Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze preview: First play on Wii U
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is another of a slew of titles that Nintendo has announced at this year's E3 convention in a bid to get the fans on board with the Wii U console.
You'd be forgiven for mistaking Tropical Freeze as "Returns 2" as the game has much the same feel of its Wii predecessor. But that's the Nintendo way - it's a company that digs into its franchises and while it delivers a similar experience with each iteration of its titles, that's almost always means a wonderfully crafted experience.
And from what we've seen of DK: Tropical Freeze that logic is no different. This side-scrolling platformer is a breath of fresh air in among the dozens of free-roaming next-generation titles on show at E3 in Los Angeles, California.
Just because it's side-scrolling doesn't mean it's easy though. You'll need to master quick successive jumps, rolls, handle-pulling (a new feature) and ground-stomping in order to progress through to different areas. In combination it's easy to make mistakes and fall down pits, get chewed up by giant venus-fly-traplike plants, miss that crucial barrel cannon jump or any number of other deaths.
Unlike its predecessor Tropical Freeze is a little less rigid in its direction. The camera flows a little more, with three dimensional launches at angles through the treetops and other subtle movements visible rather than the always-side-on view. It's subtle, but it's there.
Graphically it's the first time we've seen Kong in high definition too. As that's so the norm for all games these days it will easily pass by fresh eyes, but the cartoony finish still delivers a great-looking style that's super smooth in motion. When Kong dives into water and has a swim, for example, the game truly glides along.
The usual favourites also return: Diddy Kong can help propel your jumps with his launch pack - an essential feature - while minecart levels add time-critical jumps into fast paced action.
Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze feels as good as a platforming games can be. Challenging, deep with in-level tasks and with that usual Nintendo incremental difficulty. But then is the market for side-scrolling platformers as strong as it once was? We're big Nintendo fans, as ever, but Tropical Freeze is much of the same reformed for Wii U release. As per its other Wii U titles that's both a praise and a criticism - it might not be breaking new ground, but we're already excited to play the full game through.