Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze arrives on 21st February, and combines the established skills of Retro Studios with many of the outstanding foundations laid down in Donkey Kong Country Returns on Wii. It may not be the game or franchise that some of the most vocal of Nintendo fans wanted, but it has the potential to be a terrific 2D platformer on the system.
Returns certainly maintained the overall DK Country feel, yet was still a distinct evolution from the iconic Super NES titles. Speaking to GamesTM magazine, the President and CEO of Retro Studios Michael Kelbaugh explained that "the challenge is always how to keep the original style that the fans expect; yet introduce something new and exciting." In interesting follow-up comments when discussing the new 3D camera in Tropical Freeze and its ability to broaden the DK world, Kelbaugh explained how work on the Metroid Prime Trilogy influenced and was directly linked to the platformers.
With every game we make, we get better. In that sense, yes, the experience we gained working on the Metroid Prime franchise was invaluable.
Specifically answering your question about 3D to 2D, what you may not realise is that we constructed the levels in Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in very much the same manner as we did the levels in Metroid Prime. However, levels in Returns and Tropical Freeze are much, much larger and more detailed. And I'll share this with you; we used the Metroid Prime engine and tools to develop Returns, so technically, the lessons learned on Metroid Prime were directly applied.
Kensuke Tanabe, the producer of Tropical Freeze that's worked extensively with Retro Studios, highlighted that the plucking and lifting ideas in the new title can be traced to his one and only directorial project, the original Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic — which would become Super Mario Bros. 2 outside of Japan — with some enemies that can be picked up and thrown. On the subject of the 3D aspect to Tropical Freeze, and Kelbaugh's explanation of the Metroid Prime engine and tools serving as a platform, Tanabe-san 'mused' on the future potential for Donkey Kong to return to the 3D adventure roots that Rare made possible on the Nintendo 64.
Maybe the Donkey Kong series over time will also feature both 2D and 3D like as in the Super Mario series!
The style of the next Donkey Kong Country title would also depend on the game design.
While the Metroid Prime series awaits its next entry from Retro Studios — if it actually arrives — it's intriguing to learn that the DK titles have been a process of evolution for the Texas-based studio, rather than an entirely different, fresh departure.
Are you looking forward to Tropical Freeze, and would you like to see the return of 3D DK adventures?