Scotch Corner – The King of Kong

Read Stuart’s column every week in The Scottish Sun, where he shares his reviews, news and podcasts with the 99.3% of the World’s population not fortunate enough to be able to buy a physical copy of the paper. The following appeared originally in The Scottish Sun on Sunday 13th May 2018.

 

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Switch, £44.99)

DONKEY Kong Country: Tropical Freeze started life on the Wii U so there’s a fair chance you have never tried it.  It is the latest Wii U title that Nintendo have whisked over to the Switch but this will be a winner because it is platforming perfection.  There is a basic but entertaining plot which guides you through the vast mix of levels.  It’s Donkey Kong’s birthday and he’s celebrating with the family, but it’s interrupted when the island is invaded by a frozen army.  The Kong family have to stop them and win back their home.

Your journey takes you from jungles to frozen mountains through some of the best designed platforming levels ever seen in a game.  There is a steady but constant learning curve which is always pushing you over the 13-hour adventure.  That will please all those who found Kirby All Stars too easy — this is a far more weighty challenge.  Add in the bags of secrets and collectable you have to find, plus some testing boss fights and you have an action-packed thriller.  There’s a neat twist in that you can pick one of the Kong family to help you along the way.  They all have special abilities — from Diddy Kong’s jetpack boost to Cranky Kong’s pogo walking stick.  The biggest addition is that you can play as Funky Kong, who is more than just Donkey Kong’s cool surfer uncle.

It does take the edge off the difficultly levels but he has a few helpful abilities like being able to double jump and glide more slowly when falling.  It’s a clever addition that will attract more younger gamers while keeping up the challenging core gameplay.  On top of that you can team up with a friend in co-op.  The game has a stunning cartoon design with bags of pin-sharp detail in docked and handheld mode on the Switch and David Wise’s soundtrack is simply outstanding.  It really captures the Donkey Kong vibe and adds to the fun factor.  There is no other way to put this — Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a masterclass in platforming gaming.  The design is spot on.  The controls are super-tight.

If you look up the meaning of hidden gem in the dictionary there will be a picture of Donkey Kong smiling back at you.  If you enjoy platformers then this is a must.  If you have a Switch this is a must and, if you like bananas, this is a must.

Score: 5/5

Nintendo LABO: Toy-Con 01 Variety Kit (Switch, £59.99)

NINTENDO have always been trailblazers in the gaming world . . . but building cardboard toys?  Come on.  We got the handheld Gameboy.  We bought into the motion controls on the Wii, built in screen on the Wii U and even the Virtualboy.  But building cardboard models seems a bit retro.  Fortunately, the gaming giant has given it a Nintendo twist because there are mini games, challenges and they’ll even teach you stuff.

Labo comes in two flavours just now — the £59.99 Variety Kit and the £69.99 Robot Kit.  The former is definitely aimed at younger, more family-focused gamers while the latter is pure gaming.  The Robot Kit has just one model, a robot suit and one game to play . . . and it is tough.  The Variety Kit has five models and is a great introduction to the world of Labo.  You get a game box and sheets of cardboard using the interactive instructions on the game cart.  The models can take between 10 minutes and up to four hours to complete.  The instructions are clear and the cardboard is pre-cut so no need for glue.

The magic is down to the joy-cons.  They use infrared tech in conjunction with special tape and that opens the way to play games from fishing to racing.  Beyond the models and mini games Labo has a discovery section that teaches you about how it all works in a light-hearted way.  The Garage mode lets you program the joy-cons so you expand on the model — you can turn a tennis racket into a guitar.  In the future we will see some really clever innovations as the community embraces the technology.  We are yet to be convinced by how long each model can survive and whether you could get replacement parts without buying a new set.

You could also query whether this is a game at all.  Younger gamers will love it because it will feed curiosity and supply hours of fun.  It is expensive for what you get even if the feeling of satisfaction is total.

Score: 4/5

PIANO

THE headline act in the Variety Kit.  What starts as a simple toy piano grows into a music maker studio or an aquarium and showcases what the software can do in Garage mode.  You get different sounds, from odd cat noises to Joy-Con vibrations and you can change the tune and pitch and make your own music.

FISHING ROD

EPICALLY tough because it has moving parts and extra pieces like rope and plastic eyelets.  You have to get it right otherwise you have more of a curtain pole than a fishing rod.  But it is good.  The mini game urges you to catch three fish — and it’s harder the deeper you go.

HOUSE

A FUN challenge.  The reflective tape on the buttons and cranks is key to making the whole thing work.  The mini game is a virtual pet of sorts.  The house is occupied by a cute creature and playing with the cranks and buttons changes what’s going on on-screen.  There are nine mini-games in the house.

MOTORBIKE

OUR favourite to buIld.  You race in nine events split over three Grand Prix using the tilt controls.  You can also make your own tracks using motion controls.  It all has a Mario Kart vibe, even with the drift system.  The handlebars are neat, but there are better racers on the Switch.

RC CAR

WHEN you look at the world of Labo you will be drawn to the RC car.  Nintendo have played a blinder because this is the welcome to Labo — and you get a sneaky tutorial on how to use the construction guide.  Best with two players so you can race and Sumo fight.  Beyond that, it’s more of a toy than a game.

Nintendo LABO Customisation Set (Switch, £8.99)

GIVE your Labo models the personal touch with a Nintendo customisation sets.  You get two stencil sheets, two rolls of tape and two sticker sheets so you can add words and stickers of Nintendo characters’ eyes and icons and logos.

The £8.99 price is hefty unless you really want Mario eyes on your RC car.

Ever Decreasing Circles

THERE has been plenty of chat about Fortnite in recent weeks — but some parents’ worst nightmare could about to become reality.  The game has just got even better thanks to a trailblazing link up with Avengers: Infinity War.  Thanos is a playable character for a limited time in the tongue- twisting Infinity Gauntlet Limited Time Mashup.  You simply have to find the Infinity Gauntlet on the map and you are transformed into the all-powerful Marvel villain— complete with soundbites from Josh Brolin, who plays Thanos in the hit flick.  He can’t finish the game with a click of his fingers, but he is fairly unstoppable.

It also gives rise to an interesting twist.  Normally, it’s an all-for-yourself battle with everyone fighting everyone.  This will see groups of players ganging up on the titan.  It’s also an important crossover as it shows that Fortnite’s developers, Epic, are open to cross promotion marketing in the game.  This could be the start of a new trend.

No End In Sight

RAINBOW Six Siege Year Three Season Two will bring lots of new gear and game fixes, but Ubisoft have listened to fans and introduced the Pick & Ban system — where you can select your faves and stop opposing teams using other characters.  But the headline is Operation Para Bellum, with two defenders from the Italian Carabinieri and a new map.

Watch the reveal on twitch.tv/rainbow6 on May 19-20.

The Power of Dreams

FORZA are having a month-long Honda celebration.  It all kicks off with a bang as the new Civic Type R has been added to the game and it is FREE to all Forza Motorsport 7 players to download.  The 2018 Type R is the motor that puts the hot into hot hatch.  It has some awesome over-the-top design and aggressive performance thanks to a turbo-charged 2-litre four-cylinder engine that coughs up 306 bhp.

Turn 10 have also lined up a string of Honda- centric content and events linked to the game throughout May.

I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…

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Stuart Cullen

Scotland’s very own thorn in the side of the London gaming scene bringing all the hottest action straight from The Sun… well… The Scottish Sun at least, every week!

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