Onto the main co-op aspects of this game. It becomes immediately apparent the game is a better experience when played with a partner. One of the reasons being each player can control a Kong separately, or combine together whenever they choose using a control button. Be warned, however, that if players do choose to play co-op, their current number of lives will be shared between them (two lives will be lost if both die). That being said, stocking up on lives through collecting bananas or grabbing balloons should be a high priority. It's important to be aware of the gauge on the left of your character icon. When it is full (collecting bananas fills the meter) players can initiate a super attack to turn all enemies on-screen into 1-up balloons!
On the plus side, the player to fall behind the lead player will only teleport to them instead of losing a life. The only things they share separately are individual item inventories, each able to carry 3 items total. The most useful item in my opinion, Squawk the Parrot, can be used between both players, while a single Life Bar increase can only be used per Kong.The player who is in control of DK when combined will have complete control over all jumping/climbing/grabbing commands, while the other player gets to ride and shoot their long-range, enemy stunning weapon. This is a great concept for beginner co-op players who might need help getting through a part of a level; DK can carry them while they provide long-range support.
Either player may assume the role of DK in the session, while the other may choose any of the three (unlocked) Kongs to play as for the entire time. I couldn't find an option to switch between the Kongs in-game, so I had to return to the title screen to change each time. Still, co-op does make collecting certain items easier to get on the bonus stages. These levels usually require all the bananas in a large room be gathered within a set time limit. Having another person there to divvy up the tasks makes completing these rooms a piece of cake.
Of all the beautiful levels Tropical Freeze features in it, one level completely stood out to me as being unique in art design. It was an unlockable stage on World Map 1 called "Busted Bayou". The level features a dark, shadowed scheme where you are navigating through a very shaded treetop. All aesthetics were presented in completely black silhouettes, besides DK and his partner's main clothing item featured in a bright color (like DK's red tie) . I very much compare it to those designs featured on iTunes gift cards with the people holding their iPods. If Nintendo made this game with more levels like this in it, or even make the entire game look like this, it would be brilliant.
Some small nit picking I had with the game involve the somewhat slow loading times and the various game menus. In regards to the loading times within Tropical Freeze, they can be somewhat slow when players are entering or exiting levels, or even when entering the world map screen from the title screen. Now, I downloaded the digital version of the game to review it, so I'm not sure if the disc version is any faster. In any case, this issue is minor, but can become tiresome over time. And there's also Cranky's character that I barely used, much to Nintendo's enthusiasm in featuring him as a playable character.
Overall, Tropical Freeze is a super solid title for the Wii U library that I'd put near the same level of quality as Super Mario 3D World. It shows that Nintendo puts a ton of love into its core franchises and continues to perfect the peak gameplay found in their respective series. My disappointment in Cranky's mechanics aside, this game easily took most of my attention from other co-op games I'm currently playing. For veterans or beginners alike, Tropical Freeze accommodates both perfectly in co-op and rewards those who choose to play as a team. As a cooperative a Nintendo title currently available for the Wii U, you can't find a more satisfying and refined experience than this one.
The Co-Optimus Review of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is based on the digital Wii U version of the game. A code for the game was provided by the publisher.
The Co-Op Experience: Play has Diddy or Donkey Kong. Diddy is able to ride on Donkey Kong's back, use his jetpack to float both characters, and more.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.