Title: Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
ESRB: E (Everyone)
Release Dates: 12/16/04 - JP, 02/04/05 - EU, 03/14/05 - US

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
A DK Adventure with Bongo-Pounding Controls!

You've played and mastered the various flavors of Dance Dance Revolution, you've beaten Taiko Drum Master and Guitar Freaks, but your superhuman rhythm gaming appetite is still not satiated! What's a gamer to do? Nintendo has the answer: Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.

Released in 2005, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is compatible with the Nintendo GameCube Bongo controller. Understand, however, that Jungle Beat is not a music game. Rhythm is important, but you'll actually be controlling Donkey Kong (DK) in an action platformer. Your drummings translate to a series of movements that include walking, jumping, clapping, chest and ground pound, and riding various animals for fun and profit.

This is an original arcade-style game. There is no story. Your only goal is to beat the high score on each individual level and collect crests. Crests come in four varieties and are earned by collecting preset amounts of beats (bananas). You earn a bronze crest for completing a stage with at least 1 beat, a silver for 400 beats, a gold for 800 beats, and a platinum for 1200 beats. There are no cutscenes and no spoken lines (although there is the occasional grunt), and the game is better for it. This is gaming, not storytelling.

So, how does one accrue 1200 beats and earn those coveted platinum crests? There are no levels that actually contain 1200 beats, so you'll have to be creative and rack up combos. DK can perform an assortment of moves: wall jump, backflip, get tossed by a tiny ape, etc., and each time a unique move is pulled off before DK hits the ground, the combo multiplier is increased by one. Each beat is multiplied by the multiplier upon collection. When DK touches down the newly collected beats are added to the barrel, and the combo multiplier is reset to one. Your beats still aren't safe however. If DK is hit by an enemy, caught on fire, or frozen in ice, he will lose beats. If DK gets hit before the beats are deposited in the barrel, they're all gone (I've lost over 300 before). If he gets hurt and there are zero beats in the barrel, it's game over.

I mentioned earlier that Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is compatible with the Bongos. This is an understatement. The game was designed for them. The controls are intuitive, simple, and effective. To move DK slowly, tap either the left or right bongo and hold it down (you can feel the buttons in the drum pads). To move DK quickly, tap rapidly in the direction you want to move. To jump, tap both drums at the same time. To clap or perform a grab (collect all beats within a small radius), clap or tap the side of the bongos (The vibration will set off the microphone). That's it. All special moves are performed by clapping, and they're context sensitive; DK will do what makes sense. The only downside to this control scheme is that it makes your arms tired, but you'll get used to it.

You can use the standard GameCube controller if you really want to, but I wouldn't reccommend it. It just doesn't feel right.

The levels are varied, fun, and well-designed. You'll want to go back and beat your best score, and each of the 16 levels has four crests to collect. There's enough gameplay here to keep you occupied for a while, and this game will come out at parties, too. It's fun to play or to watch somebody playing. There's a curious lack of multiplayer, but I don't know anybody with 2 sets of bongos anyhow.

So there are 16 standard levels. It should logically follow that there are 16 bosses, right? Wrong. There are 4 bosses repeated 4 times each. The bosses learn new moves and have new patterns and stages each time, but I shouldn't have seen the last boss in the fourth level of the game.

The game is also a little on the short side if you're not interested in collecting crests. I am interested in collecting crests, so it's not a huge deal, but there's got to be some leftover room on that disc for either multiplayer, additional levels, or both.

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is a fun, innovative, original game, and it's worth your time. The bongos are fun, but they're a little pricy if you only want to play Jungle Beat. If you're going to grab this title, you'd may as well pick up Donkey Konga as well and put those bongos to use.

http://www.gamefaqs.com - release dates

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