Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat Review: Is It Worth The Price?

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat Cover

Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat Review: Is It Worth The Price?

Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat is pure platforming arcade fun. Published by Nintendo in 2004 for GameCube. It utilizes bongo drums as a control device; the same drums that were created for Donkey Konga. It’s possible to play the game without them but it’s nowhere near as fun.

Despite the title, beats do not have to match the song. Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat isn’t a rhythm game. The drums are used to activate movement on the part of the character. Hit the right drum and Donkey Kong’s right leg will step forward. Hit the left drum to move his left leg forward. Hit both drums alternately to simulate walking. It works really well but it does get tiring after a while especially in the wrist.

Intricate Movements

Donkey Kong Screenshot
Donkey Kong drumming his way through the game.

You don’t have to be a drummer to get the hang of the controls, but you’ll definitely need some coordination. To make Donkey Kong run for instance you’ll have to play a drum roll. That requires a little technique so that you can move him smoothly without hitting the same drum a few times in a row or hitting both of them at the same time which causes him to jump. Fortunately, most of the levels are laid out in such a way that it’s not a big deal if you access the wrong move.

More moves can be accessed by tapping the sides of the bongos or clapping. Clapping will allow DK to interact with objects and characters in the environment. He can pick up bananas, swing on vines and grab a ride on the back of various large critters. He can even do backflips and let out a devastating yell, the sound waves of which can topple enemies.

Drums taps and claps also make flitting fairies suddenly congregate into steps and tiny mushrooms spring up into giant platforms that DK can then climb. Swim through sunken galleons, hurtle through volcano cones and, in short, bash your way through many more exotic levels.

The different jumping combos you performed with different bongo taps are slick. Donkey Kong can sail through the air or jump straight up and pound down on an opponent. He can climb chasms by leaping from wall to wall with alternating left and right taps. Simultaneous taps make him swing from vine to vine.

Don’t Lose Your Bananas in Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat

Donkey Kong Fight
Donkey Kong battle with creatures for bananas.

Collecting bananas will increase your health and score. These are called beats. If you take a hit from an enemy, you’ll lose some of these beats. Lose them all and you’ll have to start the level over. Considering how easy the game is this isn’t much of a worry. Even the bosses are easy, and they are repeated. You’ll face some of the same bosses three times throughout the game.

The only form of replay value is attempting to get the gold crests awarded at the end of each level for having a specified quantity of bananas collected. If you work really hard, you’ll probably get the silver crest, but you’ll really have to hunt and stay out of trouble to get the gold.

Giant creatures that DK runs into are well rendered and smoothly animated. If you’re not fighting or avoiding them, you can sometimes jump on their back and go for a ride. Level designs are imaginative, but a little more variation would be welcome. The tunes in Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat are pleasant, and the sound effects are right on the money.

Parting Words

Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat is a clean looking game, maybe a little sterile looking. The jungle environments are a little too sparse in places. Some of the graphics are too angular making the jungle appear as though it’s been constructed from origami but at least there are no jaggies, slowdown or clipping. If you already have the bongos from that version, you should just rent this one and save some money. It’s so short you certainly won’t get your money’s worth if you buy it.

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