GAMECUBE REVIEW: DONKEY KONGA

Who wants to work when you can just bang on the drum all day?

Nintendo's new Donkey Konga is a rhythm-based game that comes with a miniature set of bongo drums as a controller. There is no dancing to this game; it's all about tapping out beats on the bongo drum. It's sure to appeal to those that don't think that dancing is very cool. Just exactly how cool Donkey Konga is depends on your level of commitment to hammer away on these bongos for hours in front of a TV screen. If you want to complete all of the challenges you'll be in for a surprise when you find out just how difficult this game can get.

The novelty of the controller could be compared to that of the lightgun. You don't really need it but once you play with it you can't live without it. There are three basic moves that you will perform. Icons will appear onscreen in time to various songs. The red half-circle indicates a beat on the right drum while a yellow half-circle indicates a beat on the left drum. A full pink circle requires that you hit both drums at once. There are variations such as colored bar lines that require you to continually hit a particular drum as fast as you can.

There are more than 30 songs, some of which are Nintendo ditties such as the Mario Bros. theme. Other songs range from Willie Nelson's On the Road Again to The Trogs' Wild Thing. There are three different difficulties and six modes including a two and four-player beat battle fest.

For some songs you'll just play along to the basic beat. For other songs you'll play along to the melody which can get more complex. You will earn gold as you successfully complete songs which you can then spend to unlock mini games and different song versions. The Jam mode is the most challenging of all and only recommended for the truly skilled and dedicated since there are no beat icons shown on the screen. You have to play the songs by memory, providing that you learned them in the Street mode first. This is good practice to see if you can make it as a professional musician. Yes, musicians are required to know more than the entire Late-Night Menu at Wendy's by heart.

Nothing would be more fun than having four players try to "beat" each other in the multi-player mode. Although it would cost a pretty penny with more than a hundred dollars worth of novelty controllers in the room at once, you don't have to buy the entire game package at fifty bucks. Controller can be purchased separately for 30 dollars each. While they appear to be quite solid they aren't going to last long if you swing them into walls which is what you'll probably want to do time and time again since the game can get really competitive and ultimately frustrating. Unlike the single player mode there are different icons that appear in the multi-player mode such as the Pow which takes chunks out of your opponent's score.

I've seen better graphics on the Super Nintendo, seriously. Fortunately the focus of the gameplay is not on the graphics and admittedly they could have been in danger of being too distracting. It would have been nice to see more special effects, especially when there's a break in the action. It also would have been an idea to include more tunes. As it is, the gameplay is relatively short and it's unlikely that most players will tackle all of the modes.

I almost hate to say it but, it appears as though Donkey Konga is going to be hard to "beat."

Preview By Chris

A while back I wrote a preview for Donkey Konga. At the time it was an import only game. I had received a few requests for previews of imports and the game's wacky style of play and control seemed perfect to write about. At the time I wrote the preview for this game little did I know that Nintendo was already working on another game that would use the same controller and basic controls. DK Jungle Beat at first sounds a bit strange. Players will use the two drum pads to make DK move, jump and attack. While it may sound strange, the game has received some interests when it was shown off at E3.

Players will not be judge on their drumming skills and the game is not a music themed game. It's an adventure game with a few mini-games thrown in. During the game another monkey enters the level and challenges DK to a fight. Hitting the Konga drum on the right-side will make DK dodge right, hitting the left drum will make DK go left and tapping both drums will cause DK to start punching if there is an opening. If this sounds familiar, it is and has the feel of the classic Punch-Out. Players will have to learn what combos do what since the right one will make DK shake a tree for bananas to regain his health meter. Another rim-shot can make DK grab a vine and swing out of danger or on his way to the next level. It is certainly different and may have enough of a different angle to create sales. The controller is well built and features a very sensitive microphone in each drum to pick up on when it is touched and how.

I can only go by what was reported from the floor at E3. So far the game has grabbed some attention. The only big question is how well built is the controller since the game can only be played with it. It has been reported that the controller works very well and is made well yet; some concerns about this fact have been brought up. Now granted I have complained that Nintendo has not really brought out anything new and seems content to rely on old characters that have already proved that they sell games. I have also said the games lack creative content and they need to take risks. It looks like they are trying to do something new while keeping a safety net so to speak by making the game with a well known Nintendo classic character. Jungle Beat is due out in 2005 so we are sure to hear more on this one.

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat Preview By Chris

I was checking my mail and a member wrote me and asked a very good question. I will not post the letter or go into all the details. The member asked " Hey Chris, I thought you where the previews editor? Where are the previews and can you throw in a few import games?" I read the letter from this member and while the point was a good one. So here is another preview and it's an import title right now. So I hope people now know we do read our mail and we do listen to what is said good or bad. Now on with the preview first take a popular Nintendo character, "In this case Donkey Kong" and throw in the latest fad of music and pattern games.

Donkey Konga follows the latest trend of music and light pattern games that have been very popular. The gimmick to this one besides DK himself is the new controller included in the game pack. It looks like 2 mini drums one on the right and left side of the controller it also has a built in microphone. Players follow the songs played and the action on the screen. In many ways if you remember Simon? The electronic light game you will then get the idea of this game. Players will have to tap the beat on each drum and follow the pattern as it speeds up and then you add the handclaps. An Icon on the screen tells you which drum to hit or when to clap. Score big points for long patterns with out missing a beat. If you do miss a beat you loose points. As strange as the game may sound it certainly will sell. As of the time of writing this preview the game is only slated for release in Japan. However, with DK in the game and the fact Namco is making the game the chances are good that this one will make it's way over to the US.

Donkey Konga is going for that retro feel while adding the newest craze for puzzle games. If you think this one sounds a little too weird to be true check out the screen shots. DK looks pretty good for his age. Also fans of Donkey Kong 64 will remember the Donkey Kong Rap song, which is also included in this game. Also a remake of the classic song La Bamba will also be included. As far as the role DK himself plays in the game? I am not sure the screen shots do show him in almost every shot. Maybe he claps when you do well and pounds his chest and lets you know you screwed up? Stay tune folks as we get more info on the game we will update you with the details and features. Who knows the game may be a blast to play?

Click For Media
System: GameCube
Dev: Nintendo / Namco
Pub: Nintendo
Release: Sept 2004
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
2.5
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
3.0