Donkey Kong's oldest buddy in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Cranky Kong, will give players the power to pogo over danger, as demonstrated by a recent hands-on event in San Francisco.
Cranky Kong was revealed as the game's latest playable character — joining Diddy Kong and Dixie Kong — during VGX 2013. In Tropical Freeze's single-player mode, players will always take control of the game's titular ape, Donkey Kong. DK is far from on his own, however; buddies ride along on his back and offer special attacks and abilities. In the case of Cranky, that includes the ability to defy gravity and bounce over otherwise deadly spikes with a pogo stick. Like Diddy and Dixie, Cranky can also take out enemies with a long-ranged attack. Unlike Diddy's pop-gun or Dixie's bubblegum attacks, Cranky throws something a little more telling of his age: dentures.
But despite his years, Cranky Kong is surprisingly spry. In the game's multiplayer mode, we were able to assume control of Cranky directly. Using his cane, we could easily swipe enemies away on dry land and underwater. His leaps and movements were just as able as his younger counterparts.
According to assistant manager of project development Todd Buechele, adding Cranky to the upcoming game has been a long time coming.
"He's been in the series since the very beginning," Buechele said. "We've alluded with the way he interacts with DK: 'I'm the best. You youngsters don't know how to do things.'
"We thought the natural progression was to go ahead and get him in there. He is a fan favorite. When we started to actually create him, it just took on a life of its own."
The levels in Tropical Freeze are "balanced" for players to get through with any buddy, Buechele told us, but certain buddies will allow players to open up new paths. In our demo, for instance, we grabbed a special puzzle piece only accessible by bouncing through a spike field with Cranky's pogo stick.
The difficulty of some levels will change as well. When we faced off against the viking seal boss we'd tried several weeks ago as Dixie, we had a new advantage: Cranky could bounce off the level's spiked fish and knock them out completely. However, players shouldn't expect an automatic advantage with Cranky Kong. In fact, it's almost the opposite.
"I don't want to say [Cranky Kong] ups the difficulty, but it does make it feel like more of a traditional Donkey Kong Country game," Buechele said.