The event's come and gone, the dust's settled, and now we know there are indeed a couple of Wii U games coming to the Switch. Hyrule Warriors is one; the popular Dynasty Warriors-flavored hack-and-slash game is getting a "Definitive Edition" in the Spring. As for the second Wii U port, it's not Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE or the rumored Xenoblade Chronicles X. It's Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.
I'm a little sheepish about the oversight. Tropical Freeze is a top-tier action game. It's certainly one of the best in the Wii U's library: We stamped it with a 4.5 out of 5 when it arrived in 2014. It's not an easy game by any stretch of the imagination, but it's easier to handle than 2010's Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii.
Reminder that Donkey Kong Country Returns is kind of nutty. Its "Bombs Away" stage was offered up as a challenge during the 2017 Nintendo World Championship, and the segment whipped the audience into a frenzy.
Thankfully, true to its name, Tropical Freeze is comparatively chill. But it won't let you conquer it without a fight, either.
"Tropical Freeze doesn't mess around; it's demanding from the get-go, but rarely in an unfair way," Bob Mackey says in his review. "Even the long, multi-stage boss fights feel like levels in and of themselves; it can be annoying to start over from square one when you lose, but these overpowered foes rarely run out of new tricks before you stomp their heads one final time."
Tropical Freeze is fun. It's well-balanced. It looks great. Its soundtrack is composed by the series' original composer, David Wise, and it has some genius callbacks to favorite tunes like Fear Factory. So why does the title feel chronically overlooked?
Wii U syndrome is one problem. Tropical Freeze sold 130,000 units within its first eight days of life in North America, which is respectable—for the Wii U. Simply put, Tropical Freeze feels overlooked because it was launched on a system with a very small userbase.
But Tropical Freeze was also hamstrung by a bit of bad press at the 2013 Spike VGX, where Nintendo took some heat on-stage for showing off a Tropical Freeze preview instead of a flashy reveal for, say, a new Metroid game (hello from the future: Sit tight. Give it about, uhh, four years. Approximately).
Bad feelings towards Tropical Freeze go back even further, right to the game's reveal. There'd been rumors about Retro working on a new game for the Wii U, and anyone who hoped for a new Metroid Prime title (i.e. every Wii U owner) suffered a letdown when Tropical Freeze was unveiled.
When DK Tropical Freeze was announced for Wii U, people were PISSED When Tropical Freeze got announced for Switch five years later, the vibe was a little different pic.twitter.com/VCGzWNL5J2— Tristan Cooper (@TristanACooper) January 11, 2018
As Tristan Cooper's Tweet points out, however, the reaction to Tropical Freeze coming to the Switch is very favorable. It's not hard to understand why: The Switch is a certifiable success, and it's built up a fantastic library across its mere nine months of life. Nintendo fans are in a very good mood right now. They have their new Mario game. They have their new Zelda game. They have Splatoon 2, they have Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Tropical Freeze wants to join the party? "Sure! Plenty of room! Just save a seat for Metroid Prime 4; it's going to be dropping by at some point."
I never gave Tropical Freeze the time and attention it deserved the first time around, and I feel a bit guilty about that. I'm going to pay the game a good play-through when it comes around to the Switch in May. I hope you re-visit the jungle alongside me. I mean, hey, the new Funky Kong mode alone is a great incentive to play again. Funky's abilities can help younger players through the game's rougher spots, and you get to assault enemies with a surfboard.
Now that's worth dancing about.