It had to happen eventually. Donkey Kong Country returns is vine-swinging onto the Wii U, with more banana-collecting, ridiculously challenging 2.5D platformer goodness. At this morning’s Nintendo Direct, the follow-up to Donkey Kong Country Returns was announced for Nintendo’s next-gen platform. Titled Tropical Freeze, the Wii U game is slated for release this year.
But it’s not just Donkey and Diddy this time around. Pony-tailed, pink-clad Dixie Kong is back as a playable character, able to glide across chasms with her helicopter hair spin. It’s unclear whether or not you can pair Diddy and Dixie together a la Diddy’s Kongquest, or if Donkey remains the primary Kong–but either way, we’re gleefully happy to see Dixie’s triumphant return.
Tropical Freeze keeps the same visual style of DKC Returns, with little details like DK’s bristling fur really popping off the screen with the Wii U’s graphical power. But it also takes a page from DKCR 3D, with the same layered, parallax stage design and the ability to switch camera angles at a whim. It’s supremely satisfying watching DK blast from barrel to barrel as the camera pans around the gigantic tree he’s scaling.
Your favorite (or most hated, depending on who you ask) level archetypes are back, like minecart stages and typical jungle romps. But Tropical Freeze brings back something that was sorely lacking from DKCR: underwater stages. No longer will the Kongs immediately perish if they touch water–expect more of the same dreamy ocean levels as the SNES entries.
Two-player co-op also makes a return, letting you tag-team your way through the particularly tricky stages. We can’t wait to get our hands on Tropical Freeze; luckily, we won’t have to wait long, as the game will be in our hands before 2013’s end. Check back for more of our impressions of DKC TF as they develop.