|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Paon Corporation||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 10, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Nintendo continues to propel its Donkey Kong franchise in new directions, straying from the classic side-scrolling formula of Donkey Kong Country in favor of games with control schemes that are slightly more unique. Its latest offering, DK Jungle Climber on the Nintendo DS, builds on a solid foundation laid down several years ago in DK: King of Swing on the Game Boy Advance with updated graphics, bigger levels, new elements, and a unique control scheme. Jungle Climber also offers a few new twists some Donkey Kong fans will surely appreciate.
Jungle Climber features an improved version of the same swinging control mechanic as its Game Boy Advance predecessor. Rather than simply running around and jumping on bad guys, Donkey Kong gets to utilize the inherent talent of his species. Player will primarily use the left and right shoulder buttons to make the big ape latch onto a series of strategically placed pegboards, and other scenery elements, in order to swing around and navigate the increasingly complex levels. There are a few useful techniques to employ for moving around, and much of the fun comes from this unusual control scheme.
On the ground, you can move Donkey Kong left or right with the d-pad or the shoulder buttons. Simultaneously pressing and releasing both the L and R button will make him jump, and hitting the A button engages a jump attack. While in the air, you can press the L button to make Donkey Kong grab with his left hand or the R button to use his right. Grabbing a peg with one hand will cause you to spin around. You can release your grip and use your spin momentum to propel you in any direction, or you can grab more than one peg to stop moving. From a two-handed position on the pegboard you can either pull yourself into a basic jump, or launch a more forceful attack in the direction you are facing. If you happen to have Diddy Kong riding on your back, you can even launch him ahead of you to break barrels or slam into enemies.
The controls are difficult to master, but after a bit of practice players should be able to move hand over hand and leap-swing around with some level of comfort. A few interesting moves and power-ups are thrown in to make the climbing life a little easier. Eventually, you will be able to grab rocks that can be flung at foes or barrels. With Diddy on your back you can nab up a hammer that he swings around to smash things while you continue to climb, or a feathery device that allows you to flap to greater heights, among other things. Throughout the entire game, the touch screen is only used to trigger one power-up, which makes you invincible and gives you the ability to fly for a short time. This is great for breezing through particularly nasty levels, and it almost becomes necessary later in the game when the difficult truly ramps up to fist clenching proportions.
Most levels appear quite large now that they span vertically across both of the DS screens. Players will find themselves swinging through some interesting environments, to be sure. The developers did a good job of introducing new elements and control mechanisms at different points throughout the game, usually coinciding with subtle increases in difficulty. In one area you'll have to use your weight to spin a giant peg wheel; in another you'll be using pegs to propel yourself against strong underwater bog currents. Others will find you leaping across cascading peg boards, working mechanical levers, and pulling off some death-defying aerial maneuvers. Boss battles also tend to cleverly utilize the game's controls, especially in once instance where you'll have to unscrew bolts on a giant robot in order to reveal its weak spots.