Monkey fun is once again in the limelight for Nintendo’s GameCube as Donkey Kong and pals return in a brand new adventure – and this time it’s a musical one. Donkey Konga has been released in Japan for about nine months, which proves, yet again, that I reside on the wrong side of the Pacific. But finally it’s reached us in the United States. The first day it became available I rushed out during my lunch break to pick up my pre-ordered copy, and then had to wait a grueling four hours before I could play. Ahh, the things we must sacrifice to make a living.
Donkey Kong comes into possession of some ?special barrels’ thanks to Cranky Kong who found them just lying around. Donkey Kong names them the DK bongos and then the fun ensues for the whole Kong gang. Donkey and Diddy Kong play their hearts out all for coins and for bananas.
There are several modes of play in Donkey Konga. They are:
Street Performance – The better you play the more coins you earn.
Challenge – See how many songs you can clear in a row.
Battle – Challenge a friend to see who is the better drummer.
Jam Session – Create an all-bongo band with up to 4 players.
Ape Arcade – Some non-musical fun with three mini-games you can purchase with coins.
DK Town – Purchase new music, sound sets and mini-games here.
Donkey Konga’s gameplay is fairly straightforward. Keep your eyes on the colored circles and bang the bongos or clap along accordingly. A red circle represents the left bongo, yellow for right, purple for both simultaneously, and a blue, frizzy circle for clapping. You can either play with the (game’s peripheral) bongo or a regular GameCube contoller. While not as enjoyable as the bongos, the controller gets the job done pleasingly enough. This works out well for those pesky friends who want to play but don’t have their own bongos. The multi-player modes can be quite entertaining, but it’s easy to lose track of which musical bar to keep your eye on.
In Street Performance mode, you earn coins to spend in DK Town where you can unlock mini-games and more. In DK Town you can buy different sounds for your bongos; some of these buyable sounds include: barnyard animals, and Zelda and Mario packages. There are three levels of play: chimp, monkey and gorilla. Chimp is the easiest, with gorilla being the hardest. The Monkey level presents somewhat of a challenge while gorilla is much tougher. The songs in the Gorilla level are locked, so you’ll have to buy them.
Battle mode is where you challenge another player and go head-to-head in a rhythm showdown. Players have a chance to steal opponents’ points as well as earn bonus points themselves.
The music ranges from Nintendo’s best-known games’ theme songs, to classic children’s songs, to contemporary rock. There are over 30 songs to choose from with an array of difficulty levels. Barrels represent the difficulty level of the song. The more barrels the more difficult the rhythm.
Donkey Konga is a great addition to the category of rhythm/puzzle games. If you’re looking for a game that’s fun, energetic, and a crowd pleaser, then this is the game for you. If you want a wholesome game that the entire family can play then check out Donkey Konga. This game hits the mark on delivering some quality gaming fun.
The DK bongos are a nice touch, and they help to make the game’s fun value increase tenfold. The game controls are easily learned, too. The execution and timing of playing the bongos is where real skill is exemplified. A very sensitive microphone between the two bongos picks up clapping. Sometimes hitting the bongos will pick up on the microphone causing the game to think it is a clap rather than a hit. If you are drained from clapping, just speak when it’s time to clap. My husband has taken to making a sound that I can only describe as the mating call of an Emu instead of repetitively clapping. That’s not a prerequisite, though, and any sound will work. He just tries to be funny at every opportunity that arises – good thing comedy isn’t his day job.
I must admit I haven’t fully noticed Donkey Konga’s graphics. My tunnel vision solidly focuses in on the colored circles on the musical staff. What I have noticed about the graphics is that the colors are really jazzy, making the background a little busy for my taste. Besides the musical choreography, there are the Donkey Kong characters dancing around on screen, too. They provide adequate eye candy, but it’s nothing spectacular, and certainly not on a similar level to some of the games out on todays market. But taking into account the sheer class of this musical game the graphics work just fine.
It is relatively simple to peruse the menu system with the bongos, though obviously it’s much easier to do so with the standard controller. The layout of the menu system is easily understood and is also well structured. The colors are complementary and flow well with the layout.
Obviously, sound is one criterion that will ultimately make or break a rhythm game. So, will Donkey Konga prove itself a keeper, or will it be hastily exchanged and back on the store shelf in no time? Let’s start with the music. As you would expect, the songs are up-tempo, even the Nintendo theme songs have been rerecorded with more of a dance mix flavor. Some may like this approach, whereas others may see it as a bastardization of the original song; much like my friend, who wondered, “What did they do to Zelda?” So some of the new spins on the old classics may not bode well with some folks. Most of the music should be familiar. Some songs may be unrecognizable by title but will probably sound familiar once you give them a listen.
The quirky sounds you can add to your bongos are a humorous touch and should be good for a few laughs. The sound in the mini-games is reminiscent of the ?80s. It’s a nice stroll down memory lane for those who experienced the ?80s firsthand, or for those who are aficionados of the decade that gave us big hair and leg warmers.
I’m a huge Donkey Kong fan (I spent much of my allowance as a teenager in the arcade playing Donkey Kong), so I’m likely to enjoy almost any title that comes from this franchise. Donkey Konga is not the exception to the rule. I often give up most of my lunch break in order to squeeze in a few rounds, and I make a beeline for the GameCube when I arrive home from work. So to say that I merely enjoy the game is a little understated. However, I do believe Donkey Konga will appeal to many gamers, regardless of their gaming preferences. I say this after watching my dedicated RPG-gaming husband and his RPG-gaming friend playing Donkey Konga for hours.
Donkey Konga’s drumming beat will keep your toes tapping and the good times rolling. The different levels of difficulty make it fun to play through the same songs over and over. The song selection is varied and you shouldn’t tire easily of it. The Challenge mode is nice to see how long you can keep the beat. So invite some friends over and go ape over Donkey Konga. Be happy I only used one pun as I had several in mind.
Now, I must hastily return to my percussion haven and polish up my drumming skills before my friends arrive.