Even after getting our hands on Nintendo's upcoming platformer we still didn't have all our questions answered, so we turned to Retro Studios CEO Michael Kelbaugh and Nintendo producer Kensuke Tanabe for a few more details about what is sure to be one of next year's early hits.

What is the story for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze?
Kensuke Tanabe: When Donkey Kong and his friends are having a party, a fleet of Viking ships suddenly appears near the DK Island. The Vikings, known as Snowmads, are planning to take over the island. The Snowmad boss commands his minions to have his giant horn brought to him and blows into it, summoning an Ice Dragon. Sensing danger, the Kongs step outside their hut and are blown out to sea by the gust of wind created by the Dragon.The Dragon draws thick clouds to the island, turning Donkey Kong’s tropical island into a frozen island. The Vikings land their ship on top of the island and declare takeover.

What kinds of new enemies will we see in the game? How do they affect gameplay?
Kensuke Tanabe: In Donkey Kong Country Returns, we had the Tiki Tak Tribe, a mysterious group that emerged from deep under the ground. In this game, we have a group of Vikings called the Snowmads, giving a completely new look to the enemies. Some Snowmads wear helmets, and some hold shields and spears. Players must tackle the enemies in certain ways depending on how they are armed.

Michael Kelbaugh: We had a lot of fun developing the Snowmad characters. We spent a great deal of time on the slightest of details of even the smallest of them. You may notice that they are very animated and very detailed. We wanted to give them a lot of personality and character. They do a lot of funny and entertaining things.

How does Dixie Kong change up the DK formula? What can she do that the boys can’t?
Kensuke Tanabe: Dixie Kong can spin her ponytail and fly. Her ponytail can also be used underwater; it works like a propeller and she can swim against a strong current. This ability is unique to Dixie.

How are you taking advantage of the Wii U’s hardware? Are you doing anything special with the touchscreen?
Kensuke Tanabe: Because we want everyone to enjoy not only gameplay, but also to focus on the on-screen visuals, we decided not to implement GamePad features which would require the player to often switch between the two screens. We have added off-TV play so that players can play the game with the GamePad only if they want, so that they can enjoy the game anytime even when the TV cannot be used.

Michael Kelbaugh: Technically the Wii U is a very powerful device. It allowed us to make the transition into HD which was a huge step in overall graphical and animation quality. We hope you like seeing Donkey Kong and all his friends in HD.

With a name like Tropical Freeze we expect to see a lot of ice levels, but what other kinds of themed environments can we look forward to seeing?
Kensuke Tanabe: There are environments like the Mangrove jungle, Savannah, and Fruit Juice Factory. Ice-themed levels can be found on Donkey Kong Island.

We’ve heard that you’ve done some work on the game’s camera; what’s new with that?
Kensuke Tanabe: It’s not really new technology, but because our levels and character models are in 3D, we can show everything from different camera angles. This rotating camera was used to create not only dramatic effects but also to provide a whole new gameplay experience. Players can see this in several levels such as the Mine Cart and Rocket Barrel levels, as well as in the Barrel Cannon levels.

Michael Kelbaugh: The use of the 3D camera was something we wanted to do in Donkey Kong Country Returns however; we just didn’t have the time to refine it and get it to where we really liked it. With Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, it was a feature we knew we wanted from the beginning and we had a little more time to make it look great. We’re really happy with how it turned out.