“ Genre: Family & Entertainment / Manufacturer: Nintendo „
Rhythm and singing games might be commonplace now, but rewind 10-15 years and I can think of only two ( Parappa the Rapper for the original Playstation and Donkey Konga for the Nintendo Gamecube) which gained any sort of following amongst Western gamers.
The concept of Donkey Konga is very simple, although it feels the need to have a rather cheesy story attached to it! Whilst walking on their island one day, Donkey and Diddy Kong comes across some mysterious implements which turn out to be bongos. Donkey and Diddy decide to practice on these bongos so that they can become world famous musicians, able to buy as many bananas as they can eat. And no, I'm not making that up.
In truth, the presence of Donkey and Diddy Kong doesn't add a huge amount to the game, and they really have just been shoved in their for the recognition value. Nintendo could have put any character in this game and it would still have been the same. Still, it's always good to see the big ape fella get a gaming outing - he's arguably my favourite video game character of all time, so I'm not going to complain!
The rather suspect back-story is told via a nicely presented intro screens which present the action as a series of statics "photographs" with some rather cheesy explanatory text dialogue. It's quite a fun sequence to watch the first time you play, although you are likely to skip it on all subsequent occasions. The rest of the game is visually rather bland (the songs presumably take up so much memory and disk space that there's no room for flashy graphics) so the intro is a nice way of brightening up an otherwise rather dull looking game.
The actual gameplay is pretty simple. Donkey Kong is presented with a series of songs and must tap the appropriate button on the controller when prompted in order to beat out an accompaniment on the bongos. The range of songs is quite impressive, with over 30 available representing a wide number of styles. The selection is rather eclectic, ranging from songs which were popular around the time the original game was released ("Alright") to rock classics (Queen's "Don't Stop me Now"), a couple of classical tracks and even some themes from popular Nintendo franchises. Whilst there is a tendency towards more pop-based songs, the game still offers something for all the family.
Although (due to copyright restrictions) most of the songs are cover versions rather than the originals, they are generally re-created well and quite faithful versions. They feature full vocal reproduction and full orchestration and sound great with the volume turned right up on your TV! Inevitably, some are better (and more fun to play along to) than others, you'll probably find there are some songs you always go for and others you rarely select. The songs do vary considerably in difficulty (indicated by the number of bongos on the selection screen; the more bongos, the higher the difficulty) and this adds to the game's challenge and longevity.
Long term play is further helped by a number of different game modes which present you with different challenges. For example, Street Performance Mode allows you to choose any song and play along. The more accurate you are, the more money you earn (this can then be used to buy unlockable content, including some mini-games). Battle Mode is a simple head-to-head game where you try and be more accurate than your opponent, whilst there is even a memory mode where you are given no visual clues and have to remember which notes to play when! Assuming you enjoy the basic gameplay, these different modes mean that Donkey Konga offers a huge challenge, even in one player mode.
Something else which makes the game a lot more fun is that it offers multiplayer options. Although the one player mode is initially fun, it does quickly become repetitive. Get a few friends around and have a few drinks though, and the game is a lot more fun as you can laugh at the ineptness and complete lack of rhythm of your friends or be impressed by their level of hand-eye co-ordination. Battle Mode when played against other people is particularly fun and will bring out the competitive element in even the most mild-mannered person in the quest to prove that your bongo playing abilities are superior to those of your opponent.
This is a crucial point, if you tend to play games on your own, then I wouldn't recommend Donkey Konga, as the one player mode (even with the different modes and difficulty levels) soon becomes rather boring. If you're into social gaming however and regularly have friends around then it can be a lot of fun.
So, how does this translate into on-screen action then? At the top of the screen sits DK with his bongos. Beneath him are a couple of lines along which a series of different coloured icons move from left to right. When the icon reaches a certain point, you need to press a specific button on the controller: a red icon requires you to press the A button; a yellow one, the left control stick. A pink icon means you have to press both together, whilst a star means you have to get DK to clap by pressing one of the shoulder buttons. These basic controls are simple enough to remember, but actually implementing them at exactly the right time is where the skill of the game lies. This is particularly true on some of the trickier levels where multiple icons are flung at you in rapid succession) giving you little time to react and press the right button.
Overall, the controls work pretty well, something which is helped by the fact they can be customised to some degree. Since there are only 3 basic buttons needed, several of the buttons on the controller double up for the same action. So, if you don't find using the A button comfortable, pressing the B button will have the same effect. This means you can select the combination of buttons which works best for you.
Although the game's controls are quite simple, I was surprised there wasn't a tutorial level to get you started. I notoriously never read instruction manuals; so on my first game selected an easy song but didn't have a clue what I was meant to do! It was somewhat frustrating to have to go back to the manual to find out what each icon meant and what I needed to do in the game. This goes against the pick-up-and-plays style of game that I prefer. A simple tutorial level would be ideal for people like me who are too impatient to read instructions and just want to dive straight into the game.
The original game also shipped with a pair of plastic bongos which made these controls even more straightforward. Using the bongos a red icon told you to hit the right bongo; a yellow one the left. With the Star icon, you either had to clap your hands or say the word "Clap" (a small microphone in the bongos picked this up). This method (literally) offered a far more hands-on experience and actually made the game a lot more fun to play. If you can find a pair of bongos then it's definitely worth the investment and will add a huge amount of enjoyment to the game, as well as making it a bit easier to play.
At the end of the day, this is definitely a game that was designed with the party element in mind, and that is where it is at its strongest. Despite some nice variety in the songs and several different modes, the one player experience soon becomes rather repetitive. As a party game, it's a four star title (which is how I've judged it, since this is really what it is meant to be); as a one player experience, knock a star off
© Copyright SWSt 2011.
Nintendo has produced another winner! From the song selections to the unlockable mini-games, this game has everything. Using your bongos, you must choose 3 levels of difficulty and successfully complete a ton of songs to earn points. These points can be used to unlock hidden games and songs. This game is very addictive, and I find myself playing songs repeatedly, even though I have already completed them! I recommend this game to anyone who enjoys a game without violence, and who can keep a beat - no musical experience is necessary.
Not everyone can stand a 60 hour epic RPG quest or maybe stealthy take out guards and bung them in lockers and some people cant stand forming strategies and taking out the enemy. Everyone, though, can play a rhythm action game with next to no problem thanks to their quick and simple method of control. Rhythm action games have been around for a while and have been getting people to beat drums and shake their maracas in time with the tunes. Its a lot less tiring than dancing games and who can resist the novelty of plugging in an instrument to their console. Its taken Nintendo a while to jump on the bandwagon but theyve finally come on board with Donkey Konga. Developed by their pals Namco, who have got a good history in music based games; it follows the same method of similar games and will appeal to all types of gamers.
The aim of the game is simple. You bash your bongos or clap your hands in time with the music. You can follow the actions on screen indicating whether to hit your right drum, left one, both at the same time or clap your hands. There are several modes of play and the one youll probably spend most time on is the Street Performance. This is just a simple task on hitting the right beats to the songs. As with most modes there are three difficulty levels, Monkey, Chimp and Gorilla. Most people will be able to perfect the first two levels without too much of a problem. Gorilla is where the real challenge lies. The notes often come thick and fast and youll need real co-ordination to get gold status on the songs. Gorilla levels can only be unlocked via coins you collect in the previous modes down at DK Town. You can also buy other items such as different sounding bongos (such as NES sounds or Mario sounds). There is also a Challenge mode where you can try and beat as many songs as you can in a row, which will probably be a bigger test on your hands than on your rhythm. There is also a mode called Jam Session where only completist would dare to enter. In this mode the barrels indicating when to perform a command are still on screen but it doesnt tell you what to do. Its fair to say that not everyone is going to find the time or patience to memorise all of the songs to complete this mode. There are also a few minigames to be found but these are very simple and wont really hold your interest for long.
The real fun, of course, comes from the multiplayer side of things. Up to four people can play at once making your home sound like an out of tune jungle. While the single player mode lets you practice and get your skills up to speed the multiplayer is where you can show them off. Two people can go head-to-head in the Challenge mode and also the Battle mode. Battle is simply a competition to see who can play the song better. Though this time there are some special notes bundled in that can hinder your opponents high score and also slots that can rack up points if hit correctly to make this mode rather hectic but fun. If harmony is more your thing then you can start a Jam Session with up to four players. Each person has a different set of notes to play through each song making this a game of trying to sound as good as you all can rather that an all-out competition. Though its still fun to see people flay wildly when songs get a bit too fast paced.
So what of the bongos themselves? Well considering you pay £29.99 for the bongos and the games you get a good deal (bongos are £24.99 sold separately). The bongos are a good size so even the people with the biggest hands will be able to hit the drums with ease. The tops of the drums are nice and squishy(ish) and seem to click when they are pressed correctly. In game they respond well as does the speaker that detects your hand clapping. They feel nice and sturdy so they dont seem like theyre going to break if you hit them too hard though I wouldnt recommend you testing them out by throwing them out the window, theyre not that robust.
There is a decent choice of songs bundled in with the game. They are separated by Pop, Rock, Funk, Classical, Latin and Videogame giving you a good range. There are 31 songs to choose from so perfecting them all wont be over in a day unless youre extremely good. All are well known to the Western market and differ from the Japan listings because, well, not many Westerners know many Japan TV show themes. You can play classics such as the Locomotion or 99 Red Balloons (good to play on Gorilla setting). Beat to Lady Marmalade, jam with Dont Stop Me Now or thump along to All the Small Things. The inclusion of well known Nintendo themes (Zelda, Mario and the all-new Donkey Konga song) will obviously please a lot of fans out there and they are very fun to play along to. One point about the songs is that they are not sung by the original artists and are just covered though most of them are covered pretty well so its not too much of a disappointment.
Graphically things are kept very simple. The screen is obviously largely dominated by your scrolling indicators as to where to hit your bongos. You have a few characters from the Donkey Kong universe dotted around and apparently dancing but they dont seem that good at it. In all honesty these character models wouldnt look out of place on the N64 but the fact is that you really wont be paying attention to these because your eyes will be glued to what drum to press. The minigame escapades are also very simply animated and largely uninspiring though you wont be spending a mass amount of time on these so, again, the lack of visual flair doesnt really matter too much.
As the game does what it sets out to do there is little wrong with it. Obviously this is a gimmicky game and it may only hold your attention for so long but its a game when you can dip into time and time again. Multiplayer is where its at though £24.99 for a bongo each may stretch the bank a bit though it is unavoidable if you want some pure fun in four player. Oddly enough, given the obsession with scores in these sort of games, there is no high-score table to keep tabs on how people progress which seems at odds with the competitive nature of the game.
For those with friends and a need for a good party game Donkey Konga delivers what you need. Even for you single players out there this is still a great game just to get out once in a while and beat along to. Its also a game which will be easy to add to. Donkey Konga 3 is already on its way in Japan so updates should come to our shores to prolong the life. Nintendo, ever one for trying something new, arent going to let the bongos be used solely for music. In their new game Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat the bongos are actually used to control Donkey Kong in the game so the bongos wont be a peripheral that will gather dust. This generation of consoles have been pretty much bereft of any rhythm action games but Donkey Konga is a welcome entry to the genre and one that people will have a great time making music to.
[7 out of 10]
DONKEY KONGA IS
A fantastic multiplayer game
Good for a single gamer as well
Complete with a good range of songs
DONKEY KONGA IS NOT
For people with no hand co ordination
The prettiest game out there
Strong with the minigames
This game is great fun for all ages providing youve got the stamina, I had the game brought for me as a Christmas present, I only played it a couple of times.
The game is fun but you need to be in the mood to get into it, dont get me wrong I did enjoy it but it is very fast paced, when I play other games (levels etc) I like to lounge and relax, with this game I found myself holding my breathe and tapping away at very fast speeds, the music is great and up to date.
You also have to concentrate very hard while not taking your eyes away from the screen so if youre a sufferer of vertigo or have dizzy spells I would say stay away from this game.
Teenagers and younger children would thoroughly enjoy it as it gets the energy levels going and its good for their co-ordination.