Preview: Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (Nintendo Gamecube)

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo / Genre: Platformer / Release: 03-14-05
When I first heard the title Donkey Kong Jungle Beat I thought, “Oh boy, another rhythym game pumped out to snag those people that bought Donkey Konga.” While from a marketing aspect there may have been a small mummuring of that, I was completely wrong.

Maybe you played Donkey Kong Country on the SNES and loved it. Maybe you even liked it so much that you’re now 23 and still have the soundtrack. Of course you won’t part from it, even though it’s selling on Ebay for $35 and you’re unemployed and could use the money. No, you won’t do that because you love Donkey Kong and his fun fun funny music and to part yourself from this nostalgic piece of cd would be the same as ripping your heart out with a wooden spoon and stomping on it with soccer cleats. *cough* This is all hypothetically speaking, of course. *cough cough* Beg your pardon, I digress.

In a lot of ways, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat holds true to the original Donkey Kong Country side scroller. You’re still able to collect thousands of bananas, launch yourself through barrels and ride on the backs of some pretty friendly(or freaky) looking animals. There are perhaps two main differences. One is the fact that the graphics have been stepped up a knotch in quality and color. The second is the controls. What better way to navigate Mr. Kong through the jungle than beating your hands on a bongo?

That’s right. So perhaps that’s a major difference when it comes to control. Forget about joysticks or d-pads; this time Donkey Kong is going to march to the beat of your drum. It works fairly intuitively, but I’m sure there will be some stumbling to get the knack of it. Just don’t get mad if a 5 year old kid happens to pick it up faster than you. It’s the normal progression of things… hypothetically speaking of course… There I go, getting off topic again…

In any case, if you want to control DK just bear a few things in mind. By hitting the left and right bongo you will be able to move him in those directions repectively. To jump, just hit both drums at once. If you want to interact with other objects in your environment you just have to get happy and know it. That is, clap your hands. While this all may sound complicated, I doubt it will take you more than 10 – 15 minutes to get the hang of it.

While Donkey Kong Jungle Beat may be a side scroller, there were a lot of additional quirks added to give it more depth. As I stated before the graphics are significantly better. Another great feature is the moving and intuitive camera. If you need to navigate quickly through a level it will zoom out automatically to help you acheive your best results. However, if you need to get up close and personal to pummel an enemy with DK’s fists, the camera will zoom in. In some cases you might be able to zoom in enough to start counting the hairs on the gorilla’s head.

Who knows if this game has the momentum to carry itself in the US. Already, I’m impressed with the unique design and the thought that had to go into creating such a bizarre way to control Donkey Kong. Scheduled to release in March, I’ll be keeping my ears peeled to the sound of a different drum.