Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, released for Nintendo's home console the Wii U, finds our favorite barrel-throwing ape continuing his makeover from villain to reluctant hero. Arctic creatures invade the lush isles he calls home, and Kong wants them off his lawn.
In this edition, Kong faces off against musically inclined owls, penguins who are experts in archery (they shoot fish, not arrows) and Viking walruses. He may make a mess of things along the way, but it's up to him to preserve paradise.
The adventure Kong embarks on will be recognizable to Nintendo fans, who guide the ape left-to-right and up-and-down through jungle-
inspired mazes, where a barrel roll and a stomp take care of most adversaries.
At the start of Tropical Freeze, a relaxed Kong is surrounded by pals for his birthday. The party's over when a chilly breeze and a snowflake blow in, and a peek out the window reveals a pack of cold-loving critters, the Snowmads, are threatening to make like "Frozen's" Queen Elsa and give Kong's home an icy remodeling.
It's easy to be impressed by Kong's kingdom. Giant glowing mushrooms recall "Alice in Wonderland" and gorilla transportation includes mine cars, log flumes and a rhinoceros. Levels go underwater, careen into caverns and transform as players move through them, sometimes being shaped by a giant, deadly sphere of Gouda.
Following closely on the heels of Wii U's Super Mario 3D World, Tropical Freeze is another example of Nintendo's prowess in the run, jump and smash genre of gaming.
RATING E for Everyone
PLOT It's a jungle out there as Kong takes on Arctic creatures who've invaded his home.
DETAILS Wii U, $49.99
BOTTOM LINE A cool spin on an old favorite.