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Physical Foundry: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze – Nintendo Switch vs. Wii U

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze comes to the Nintendo Switch four years after its Wii U debut. But which version is best?

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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze comes to the Nintendo Switch four years after its Wii U debut. The game features a new character, and some modest technical enhancements. But how are things on the physical front? And which version is best?

Most immediately apparent is the difference in box size. The Wii U case measures just over 18cm x 13cm, whereas the Switch version is a modest 16.5com x 10.5 cm in size. The contrast is even more noticeable on the spine, with the Wii U edition a chunky 1.5cm deep, and the Switch version a svelte 1cm.

Interestingly, the trademark symbol has been moved slightly. It’s positioned after the words ‘Donkey Kong’ on the Wii U edition, but after the word ‘Country’ on Switch. Curious.

Despite these size differences, the Switch version of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze features the complete box art, albeit slightly tweaked. Nintendo’s design team is evidently at the height of its powers, and has managed to reduce the size of the image without any compromises, aside from a small change to some background greenery.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

There are some other noticeable changes. The Wii U logo has been changed for a Switch logo, naturally, and the Nintendo Network icon is now absent. The Nintendo company logo has also been removed from the bottom right-hand corner.

The PEGI rating – which is exclusive to the EU version – remains in place. Also exclusive to the EU version of the game is Donkey Kong’s giant, five-toed right foot. The US edition continues to feature the four-toed variant.

The biggest cover art change is the ‘Funky New Mode’ flash, and the appearance of the surfing Funky Kong character. The back cover reuses many of the same screen shots, but there are lots of other changes. Too many for us to mention, in fact. There is a nice icon of a wheelie bin.

In terms of plastic, the Wii U case is moulded in the iconic Wii U blue. The Switch case is transparent, but not crystal clear. Removing the sleeve and holding it close to the eye creates an effect similar to having an early stage cataract.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

It’s inside the box that we see some of the biggest changes. Gone are the ‘Action Guide’ and ‘Important Information’ inserts that were bundled with the Wii U edition. We can only assume that this information is no longer very important. We’ve reached out to Nintendo for comment.

The Switch version instead includes a reversible sleeve focussed on Funky Kong.

As for the game itself, on Wii U it’s stored on a circular digital versatile disc, or DVD for short. On Switch, the same game is somehow squeezed onto a game card the size of a postage stamp. A quick lick of the card confirms that it tastes like vomit. The disc version has no discernible flavour.

The Wii U version is also heavier, being the equivalent of 442 grains of uncooked brown rice. The Switch release weighs in at a mere 304 grains.

It’s clear that Nintendo’s aim with the Switch edition of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was compression. Everything is smaller, yet the same, and therefore better. The end product shows just how far retail technology has come in the past four years.

One thing we can be sure of, however, is that if Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was released on PC, that version would be best.


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Thumbsticks editor, and connoisseur of Belgian buns. Currently playing: Okami HD, Hollow Knight, and WarioWare Gold.