'New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle Beat'
Kyle Orland, Crispy Gamer Videogame Reviews
'Donkey Kong Jungle Beat' — Wii
In a nutshell: A game designed for a bongo controller minus the bongo controller equals just a game.
Release Date: May 4, 2009
ESRB Rating: E10+
I loved the original GameCube game, but the bongo-beating action made it hard to play for an extended period of time. I'm worried the game won't be as fun without them, though.
For a last-generation game, the initial menus look pretty good on my new widescreen HDTV. A lot better than "New Play Control! Pikmin," anyway. Also, the game lets me use a Mii to identify my save file. Let's see the GameCube version do THAT!
The game tells me to shake the Nunchuk and Remote. When I do, a spotlight appears against a leafy green curtain, which moves to reveal ... Donkey Kong! Two small, white monkeys bid him to move forward, which I do with a gentle tilt of the analog stick. The A button jumps over obstacles. Huh ... I figured I'd be shaking the controller to emulate tapping the bongos. I guess by "New Play Control" they really mean "the Old Play Control that platform games had before that wacky bongo controller."
I have to clap DK's hands to get a monkey out of a tree, but the game doesn't tell me how to do this. In the GameCube version, you actually clapped in real life. Here, it seems you jump and hit B to do a ground-pound. Oh, the monkey tells me I can also clap by tilting the analog stick and shaking the Remote. I like how you can choose the direction of your claps ... pretty sure that wasn't an option in the original.
I rescue a few more monkeys with a few more claps, then "Beat on a Barrel Tree" to "test (my) strength." The title drops down into DK's hands!
Jumping around, collecting bananas, clapping near bushes to get launched by helpful launcher monkeys. I seem to remember more bouncing and midair banana collection in the original game. Maybe it's coming later.
Got some combo action going, swinging from flower to flower and collecting big banana bunches midair for a point bonus. When I finally land on an enemy, the game zooms in and has me shake the controllers to beat them down. I must admit, there's a nice, tactile feeling to this.
I take a bite out of the HUGE banana bunch at the end of the level, then shake the controllers as fast as possible to gobble up smaller bunches. I end up with a banana count of 224. I have no idea if that's good or not.
While the level design hasn't changed since the GameCube version, the new controls seem to be messing with the gameplay. For instance, I remember being able to "clap" in midair to collect bananas in a circle. Now my claps are directional, so I collect fewer bananas. Frustrating.
Floating down a windy section on a giant red parachute now. Controlling this with drums was fun. Controlling this with analog stick is ... a tad simple.
I love the way the frogs puff up like balloons when I clap near them. The graphics are just full of life.
Level 2 ends with 209 more bananas in my collection, thanks to some nice midair combos if I do say so myself, and I do.
The boss battle against the dreadlocked "Dread Kong" plays out like a supersimplified version of "Punch Out!!" -- tap Z to dodge, then beat on the controllers to attack. He doesn't touch me once. My 533 total bananas gets me two of three silver crests. Ho, hum.
Orange Kingdom time. I start out riding a bull across a frozen tundra. OBVIOUSLY! Jumping for bananas, getting some large-ish combos, clapping to collect stuff, clapping to destroy snow boulders in front of me, etc. The level ends with a big ski-jump-type thing, requiring some controller shaking to keep me hovering longer. My arms are already getting a little tired, but that's only because I'm a weakling.
Oh HO! The air-grab move IS in this version, too ... I just have to tap A instead of shaking the Remote. Who knew?
Wow ... I got a 5x combo going for a while there, taking it into a banana-filled floating section. On landing, I earn 163 extra bananas for my midair prowess. Yowza!
530 bananas in the second Orange Kingdom level. Y'know, I'd really love to see a tool-assisted-speedrun perfect play of this game. I think it'd be entertaining.
A big, colorful hawk with a huge black egg in its talons is the second boss. I jump and swing to grab the egg with both hands, then swing the controller to head-butt it repeatedly as I slide down. Love it! I get hit frequently by the hawk's glowing feather projectiles as I go in for the attack. By the time I've saved the Orange Kingdom I've lost 600 bananas to his (her?) assault. The 345 bananas I'm left with are still enough for one crest, at least.
I do an almost continuous combo through the entirety of the Watermelon Kingdom's first stage, marred only by an accidental landing in the middle. Without that, my 505 bananas would easily be above 800. This is the kind of game you need to play a few times to perfect.
Level 2 introduces those annoying sparks from Donkey Kong Jr. (you know the ones) that seem quite indestructible. Also, I keep mixing up which actions are performed by shaking and which are done with the A button. Sometimes when I hit the A button I accidentally shake the controller, too. Touchy!
I'm getting a little tired of the constant controller-shaking, I have to admit. I think I liked the bongos better ... at least then there was something tactile to hit instead of just vibrating my wrists.
The final battle with Rogue Hog is pretty easy ... I just knock the electrified coconuts up and forward with a couple of shakes, then do MORE controller shaking and he's down quickly. Yawn.
I get greedy trying to grab some banana bunches near a few sparks, earning me my first death. Luckily I've already collected like a BAZILLION 1-ups, so it's no biggie.
It takes a real manly game to be secure enough in its masculinity to include collectible paths of sparkly posies.
I spent most of this latest level sliding along on ice, desperately trying to jump for bananas where I see them. I feel like I'm missing a lot, but the levels are short enough that I won't really mind going back to perfect my play.
Giant sleeping chickens, vacuum chutes shaped like circuitous dragons ... whatever the makers of this game were on, I want some.
The ice level ends on another charging bull, this time navigating a series of ever-lengthening jumps with bananas in the middle. I do pretty well I think, garnering 825 bananas for the level. Go combos!
Boss battle time: throwing a bunch of pineapple bombs at a big, animated elephant statue. I remember this being pretty hard with the bongos ... coordinating my timing, direction and position with that of the bombs was a total chore. With the Remote and Nunchuk, though, it's pretty easy. I only get hit a few times out of carelessness. I'm not really sure which version I like better...
Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? It's not quite the same without the bongos, but it's not exactly worse, either. Any excuse to revisit this classic is a good one, though.
This column is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
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Video Game Review: Video Game Review: 'New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle Beat' - Wii
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