|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nintendo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 4, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
About four years ago, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat was released for the Nintendo GameCube. At its core it was a semi-traditional 2D platformer that made use of an oddball control scheme. Due to the fact that you needed to use the GameCube's bongo peripheral to control DK, the game didn't do very well as far as sales go despite receiving a good amount of critical praise for its unique gameplay and feel.
While I've been a bit skeptical of the idea of taking GameCube titles, adding motion controls, slapping a New Play Control! sticker on the box, and then selling it like it's a different title, New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (NPC! DKJB) actually goes a long way towards legitimizing the NPC! label for me.
As I previously stated, the original Donkey Kong Jungle Beat utilized a bongo peripheral and it required players to tap one side to make DK move in that direction, slap both together to make him jump, and clap to cause a large shockwave to emanate from DK that damaged surrounding enemies and collected nearby bananas. This was a fairly neat way to control a game, but it had a tendency to make platforming feel needlessly inaccurate and difficult while also forcing the developers to compensate by making traversing levels and taking out enemies much easier to accomplish. The health system in the original DKJB even catered to the bongo controls, only taking away a few bananas whenever you got hit despite the fact that you would likely collect at least four hundred bananas during the course of every level.
With NPC! DKJB, somehow there are actually fewer motions involved in controlling the game than in the GameCube version. Now, instead of tapping to move DK, more precise and user-friendly analog stick controls have been implemented. Maneuvering about using the analog stick feels incredibly natural and far more accurate than trying to time bongo taps. Jumping is handled by the A button, which also seems to work better than slapping a pair of drums for less coordinated and rhythmically-challenged players. Motions aren't entirely removed from NPC! DKJB, though, as shaking the Wii-mote and/or Nunchuk will control DK's shockwave and punching attacks. However, unlike in the original version, DK's shockwave attack will only go in whichever direction you are holding the analog stick instead of in every direction at once.
This difference in attacks is just one of a few small tweaks that were made to the game because of the more accurate nature of the updated controls. Another noticeable change comes in NPC! DKJB's new health system. Since you are much less likely to accidentally run into foes, instead of losing an insignificant amount of bananas upon contact, you'll lose one of your three hearts. Players are able to earn more hearts while playing through levels and can even activate midlevel checkpoints to keep this health system from becoming frustrating, but this added challenge makes the game feel more compelling. However, boss battles will still make use of the banana health system but each strike taken during them will pilfer fairly sizeable bunches of the fruit from the total you've earned in the levels leading up to the showdown.
As with many DK titles, collecting bananas plays a large role in NPC! DKJB. Each level in the game is full of bananas, with hidden areas and menacing enemies around every corner providing even more of the classic Nintendo character's favorite fruit. Just running into these bananas will add them to your total, but there are also a couple ways to make your counter moves much quicker. Tapping the A button while in the air and near bananas will cause DK to pluck them out of the air and net you bonuses for each one picked up in succession.