At PAX East 2018, we got hands on with the Switch version of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, one of Nintendo’s Wii U to Switch ports in the system’s second year.
The big new addition, and emblazoned on the front of the new version’s box, is the introduction of Donkey Kong’s relative Funky Kong to the playable character list. Unlike previous characters like Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky, Funky supplants Donkey Kong as the main playable character and has his own skills to get through the game’s levels.
The gorilla with sunglasses and a surfboard has a much easier time through the game for new players who find Tropical Freeze a little frustrating their first time through. Funky can double jump, basically emulating Dixie Kong’s hair twirl but without needing her as a partner. While Cranky could bounce on spikes, Funky makes them completely moot by jumping and standing on them. Funky also hovers, much like Diddy’s jetpack, making the incredibly safe jumps even safer. Finally, Funky can move fast in the same way Donkey Kong can infinitely roll, but without the need for a partner Kong.
For players who don’t necessarily want an easy mode, however, Funky offers a few other advantages. Because of these extra skills, Funky Kong is a speedrunner’s dream. The character basically breaks the game’s level design and tears through areas far faster than Donkey Kong and any individual partner could do. For players who enjoy the time trial aspects of Tropical Freeze, Funky Kong is likely to dominate leaderboards.
When players are using Funky Kong, his role as shopkeeper is taken up by Squawks the parrot, who does his best Funky impression in his stead.
The main improvement to the Switch version is much faster load times. The game on the Wii U suffered from extremely lengthy loads, while the Switch game seems to come in around half the time.
Whether Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze on Switch will be worth an extra purchase for previous owners has yet to be revealed, but fun with Funky can be had even for players who have already gone through the game.