GBA REVIEW: DK: KING OF SWING

DK: King of Swing is an apropos titles seeing that Donkey Kong literally swings around in circles on a series of branches, vines, pegs and levers in this simple but effective platformer.

The control system couldn't be easier. In true arcade fashion the entire gameplay is designed around using only two buttons, in this case the shoulder buttons. As long as you're not expecting too much depth in the gameplay you won't be disappointed. Taking the game for what it is I was very impressed with the variety of moves and flexibility that the two buttons are capable of. Anyone looking for a good, pick-up-and-play game could certainly do worse.

It's award time in the jungle and everyone is awaiting the crowning of King of the Jungle. Unfortunately King K Rool has swiped the ceremonial medallion causing Donkey Kong to go and reclaim it. His adventures will take him through several different worlds including an underwater, mine, pyramid, ice and jungle levels which are all loaded with King K Rool's henchmen and various traps.


Donkey Kong moves around by grasping certain objects such as branches, levers and pegs that can be inserted into pegboards to give him a more refined method of locomotion. Each shoulder button controls one of Donkey Kong's hands. If he manages to grab something with only one hand he will begin to swing around it in a circle. You can launch him into the air by letting go of the button at the right time and then pressing either one of them to fine tune his direction to the left or to the right. By pressing both buttons down at the same time Donkey Kong will remain in one place until you can figure out where you want him to go.

Aiming Donkey Kong isn't difficult. The platforms are somewhat forgiving but not so much as to take the challenge out of it. Donkey Kong will also have to activate some strange machinery with various gears and pulleys, once again using only the shoulder buttons. It's very refreshing to play a game which such simple controls where many of the moves are embedded in the levels.

Enemies can be eliminated by lunging at them or throwing things at them. You can also try to avoid them by swinging or sailing over or under them. Bananas must be collected for health and medallions that you locate can be used to unlock mini-games and other interesting items. There are plenty of unlockables to keep you interested but the repetitive nature of the gameplay will get boring after a while. Like any arcade game it should be played in small doses and this GBA version accommodates that by saving your progress after each level.

If you've got some gaming friends you will probably want to compete against them in the multi-player modes. The challenges include races and full-out battles for up to four players. You can also play these modes by your lonesome if you prefer as you will be forced to go up against the AI.

The quality of the graphics is passable at best. It looks like an early Super Mario Bros game with large 2Dsprites and colorful but simple environments. Don't be expecting any of the superb 3D style graphics of Donkey Kong Country for the NES. The music is typical upbeat arcade fare and the sound effects are good but would benefit from more variety.

King of Swing is simple but fun. It's the kind of lighthearted fodder that the GBA was designed for. A perfect gift for youngsters and a good little rental for gamers of all skill levels.

Review by Vaughn - Overall Score 3.5 / 5.0

Dear Nintendo,

Hi. You don't know me but I've played a lot of your games over the years. 24 years ago I was obsessed with Miyamoto's Popeye and Donkey Kong in the arcades and later became a master of the various Mario and Zelda games. You guys have done some great work. I remember buying my wife Rare's Donkey Kong Country for the SNES back in 94. She loved that game. It was the only game she ever played.

I recently imported DK The King of Swing because there has been a drought of games to review out there. You know, it's February and the release lists are a little lightweight.

I've been partial to your recent wave of Donkey Kong products with the release of DKC2 on the GBA, Donkey Konga on the Cube and the upcoming Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. Those bongos are whack dudes. They'll look great next to my NES R.O.B., The SNES Super Scope and the Virtual Boy. Your peripheral department sure must be smoking something wild over there to come up with all these bizarre devices that don't really seem to have any shelf life....

And that leads me to DK the King of Swing. Guys, what were you thinking? I'm surprised this game doesn't require some sort of crazy swinging device that you have to plug into your GBA after bolting it to a wall or ceiling. But good for you. You managed to get the control mechanics quirky enough with just the GBA L and R controls in mind.

Pressing R or L to rotate around pegboards, gears and other bizarre videogame devices? Is this one of those Japanese culture things that North Americans don't understand or did someone lose a bet and have to create this game? Actually don't tell me, it's better not knowing. I loves me a good mystery.

Okay so I'm rotating on pegboards and gears, collecting bananas, charging a super jump by holding both R and L buttons and trying to get from the bottom of the level to the top, I'm "Going Bananas" after I get 20 bananas which speeds me up and I'm healing when I get hurt which also costs me 20 bananas but gives me another heart, but the thing I still can't figure out is "Why am I so freakin' addicted to this ridiculous game?"

Yes, the Donkey Kong fan in me loves that K. Rool is back and characters from all of the major DK games are involved (Diddy, Cranky, Dixie, Funky etc) and yet this one couldn't be further from its sidescrolling roots. Had this game starred Rotating Rodney and His Funky Munky Bunch I would have liked it just as much.

I really don't know how you do it. I was the one guy who actually liked your critically panned Mario Pinball and I dig this one. I think it's because it's just so doggone original. Once again you fellows at the Big N have managed to take a simple concept that no one has thought of before and make it work.

Granted it's the not the next Tetris, but then again, what is? This one might come as a shocker to gamers expecting something more along the lines of Donkey Kong Country (Super Donkey Kong in UK and Japan) but for those in the mood for an addictive low level puzzle game great for all ages, this will be a sweet tasting banana. Remember, it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing, fellas.

Thanks.

System: GBA
Dev: Paon Corp.
Pub: Nintendo
Released: Sept 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Kelly
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
2.5