Wednesday 16 October 2019

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze review: Monkeying around on familiar ground

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Switch) ★★★★ Age: 7+

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

NINTENDO engineered a flop when building the Wii U console, the successor to the gazillion-selling Wii. The misstep cost Nintendo its lead in the market but also cast many worthy Wii U games into premature obscurity. Hence DKCTF's revival, the latest remake to pad out the Switch release schedule.

Tropical Freeze may not be the finest example of the DKC canon but it was still an expertly crafted 2D platformer, chock-full of pretty scenery and never shying away from challenging the player. This Switch edition adds little in the way of new content, preferring to let the parade of lush desert islands, underwater paradises and snowy wastes speak for themselves. In fact, the visuals look even more a treat on the Switch, whether on the move or on a big screen.

The one significant addition addresses the often-frustrating difficulty level that demanded much repetition to nail arduous segments. New character Funky Kong is an option from the start who has partial immunity, a double-jump and extra health, rendering even the most demanding sections a bit of a doddle.

It all adds up to a winsome combination, an eager-to-please remodelling but one unable to touch the greatness of the Switch's other great platformer, Super Mario Odyssey.

Late Shift

(XO/PS4/Switch/PC) ★★★★ Age: 18+

There was twice a time when full-motion-video (FMV) games threatened to become the next big thing (approximately the 1980s with Dragon's Lair and the 1990s with The 7th Guest). But with graphics now approaching photo-realism, this generation seems to have even less of a need for the clunkily acted scenes and the screeching left turns generated by user-driven plots.

Undeterred, Late Shift resembles a medium-budget late-night Channel 4 crime thriller, following a hapless London carpark attendant caught up in an antique art heist.

It comes complete with well-heeled Chinese gangsters, a clutch of supercars and some convincing acting in the central roles (particularly the lead, Joe Sowerbutts). But nothing is required of the player other than to watch and absorb the unfolding drama, occasionally making a choice to force the plot in one direction or another (lie/don't lie, run/stay, etc).

Doing nothing is also an option but it's much more entertaining to take control throughout the course of the 90-minute drama, which has several endings and a few side-threads.

Late Shift started as an interactive cinema experience, with the audience choosing by majority how it unfolded. As a videogame, it seems less compelling but proves there may be life in FMV yet.

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