Donkey Kong is back, so dust of those conga drums. Donkey Kong’s Jungle Beat is a 2-d plat-former, that well, uses the bongo drums to control Donkey Kong through his latest adventure. If you’re hesitant, don’t worry, the drums give new life and a fresh feel to an old genre. The game may sound like a gimmick but it certainly is not, in fact, not only does the control feel natural, it actually works pretty well.
While there is no real story told throughout the game, Donkey Kong’s mission is obvious, collect as many bananas as possible while you complete the levels. The levels are 2-d platform-based levels , unlike the old classic SNES DK games. This isn’t to say the levels aren’t exciting, they are. Many are creatively designed and mix up the traditional slow plodding, jumping game-play seen in older games with some new ideas and put Donkey Kong in some interesting situations. You’ll be running down snowy mountains while being chased by giant lizards, swinging down deep chasms on vines and swimming in the ocean. There is quite a bit of variety and the game avoids the repetition you’re used to see form the genre.
Along the, you’ll collect beats, the bananas which will, in the end, decide your score. After you finish the level if you’ve collected enough beats you’ll be awarded with a medal and open the next level. Gold, silver or bronze medals are awarded depending on the number of beats you’ve collected. Beats are found in two ways. Some you’ll find loose, along the way, floating in the air while others will be earned by killing enemies.
One of the games more interesting aspects is its combo system. By completing the various banana grabbing abilities in succession you’ll have a chance to multiply the number of bananas your collecting. This, aided by the ability to clap which will have Donkey Kong quickly snatch up any bananas in the nearby vicinity, will help you string together multipliers, giving you large numbers of beats. In no time you’ll be swinging on a vine, jumping back and forth between chasm walls, trampolining off a mushroom and killing enemies all while collecting beats.
Now to the control. To move Donkey Kong left, hit the left drum, to move right, hit the right drum. Hit both simultaneously and Donkey Kong will jump. Clap and he will quickly grab surrounding bananas as explained above, crucial to the combo system. Along the , certain obstacles will cross DK’s path. Giant mushrooms, swinging vines or climbing up a chasm. These obstacles are overcome by hitting the bongos in ways. The game is easy to but will take lots of time to master. Putting together long combos will take some quick drumming and good eye/hand coordination but after a few , you’ll have no problem.
The graphics are great. The is 2-d but the backgrounds are 3-d and give the game a clean and bright look. The characters are big and the models are detailed and colorful. The scenery is great and full of life and the jungles and caves are full of little details. Both enemies and friends follow DK along giving the game a lively, busy feel. The sound is ok but nothing great. It’s a mix of tropical music and animal sounds, some of which are very funny. This is one part of the game you won’t pay much attention too.
If there is a disappointing aspect of the game, it’s the difficulty. You’ll have no problem flying through the levels, which go by quickly. If you want silver and gold medals, your in for more of a challenge, but nothing that’s too hard. Mix this with the short game length and you’ll move quickly through the game. There are 16 levels included in the game and this includes boss fights. Most of the levels will only take you 10 minutes or so.
Chalk this one up as yet another innovative, quirky, Nintendo release. They’ve given new life to their strange controller and have released another solid title. Although there’s no real multiplayer mode, the game can be fun with several players. Solid graphics, solid gameplay and the return of Nintendo’s most underrated mascot equals fun and tired arms. And of course, if you’rere worried you might need a bit of rhythm to play this one, don’t be.