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Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast Review

DK gives it both barrels

What do you get when you take a racing game and remove the speed, the ability to steer and the need to accelerate? Donkey Kong Barrel Blast.

No, we're not lying. Barrel Blast really is like that, and because of that we would understand if Mario Kart fans who expect challenge and depth in their Nintendo racers turn their noses up at this one. If you have a little brother who's usually rubbish at games, though, he may well love it.

The game's inherent simplicity is thanks to its basic control system that harks back to when it was originally developed for GameCube to utilise the bongo controllers. You don't need to accelerate, you just wave the Wii Remote and Nunchuk up and down intermittently to make DK bash his jet-powered barrels and reach top speed. At that point your speed will be maintained automatically. Until you crash, that is.

Click to view larger image

Aaagghhh! No Brakes!

You don't steer either. The game essentially guides you round corners automatically and you just wave the Remote to slide your racer to the right of the course, and shake the Nunchuk to slide left, grabbing bananas and items

as you go. You can jump by raising both controllers. There are no brakes.

Yes, it's all a bit strange and, for some truly unfathomable reason, there's no option to use the old bongo controller should you still have it. Yes, it could easily plug into the Wii's GC ports and, in theory, allow you to play the game as originally intended, but it's not compatible.

There may not be much to the controls but the courses themselves pack a little more depth. Set in various environments from DK's adventures, particularly the Donkey Kong Country games on SNES, each track is brimming with bananas, barrels, items and other obstacles. Boost barrels shoot you through the

air, often taking you on shortcuts down different routes. Giant animals, bees, windmills and other themed creatures pose as obstacles unique to every course. And there's a cool boost system, too.

Grabbing bananas charges a boost meter. Flick the analogue stick on the Nunchuk controller to activate it and DK will shoot forward. The clever part here is that you can extend your boost by bashing into barrels or opponents. Get it right and you can hit several barrels on a single boost, chaining boosts together for maximum benefit.

This is cool because, in a game that even your pet dog could play, it provides an extra layer of skill for more advanced players to master. The question is though, why would advanced players buy this game in the first place?

Click to view larger image
Well, they probably wouldn't. It's fun for some multiplayer action - up to four players can race, and that includes the main Mario Kart-style Jungle Grand Prix mode - but there's no online options at all. The only other mode available is Candy's Challenges, which gives you different objectives to complete on the course. But advanced players will have both modes beaten in mere days.

Where Did It All Go Kong?

Barrel Blast is a game of ups and downs. On the plus side it's a game that everyone can play, yet has a boost mechanic that allows the more skilled to dominate. The courses look brilliant and there's a great variety of environments, but for many of you, the controls will be far too simplistic and the almost on-rails steering mechanic will be an insult to your gaming ability. If you're a Mario Kart fan, then you should just hold out for Mario Kart Wii. Barrel Blast is a family game for non-gaming adults and young children.


29 comments so far...
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  1. cambel Thursday 24th Jan 2008 at 16:43

    Further proof that no one does it like Mario Kart.

  2. smashbros-kid Thursday 24th Jan 2008 at 17:02

    This could have been great yet alas another cheesy spin off. This game was created for the bongos and so why they can't be used sure is a mystery. Hopefully a DK platformer will be released on the wii like the good old days were charecters did what they did best.

  3. Sgt. Coretz Thursday 24th Jan 2008 at 17:30

    I expected a score around that area. It seems that nobody can knock Mario Kart from its racing throne, everything else just tries something new and fails. I suppose there's only so much you can do with an arcade racer, though.

  4. dragon2s6 Thursday 24th Jan 2008 at 18:05

    I was looking forward to this. I thought it might get around 80 - 85%. I didn't think it would be this bad.

  5. Nemesis X1 Thursday 24th Jan 2008 at 18:47

    I have to say that I am quite disapointed at this one, especially at the fact that there is no bongo support. Although it may suit young children I think I'll take your advice and wait for MK wii

  6. lattywatty Thursday 24th Jan 2008 at 19:23

    I'm not sure what to make of the review. I skimmed over it and the two bad points are "no online play" and "no bongo support". I wasn't expecting either of them anyway so should I add to the score?

  7. GrimReaper Thursday 24th Jan 2008 at 19:30

    I took one look at this and dismissed it. No bongos, no online and just poor gameplay.

  8. HDB Thursday 24th Jan 2008 at 19:58

    Oh yeah, and there are LOADS of unlockable chatacters. :shock:

    They REALLy should have let us use the bongos... :cry:

  9. mariotaz Thursday 24th Jan 2008 at 22:39

    This coulda been good, but wasn't. Should've been a Gamecube send-off game. Nintendo could've done far better. Fair review ONM.

  10. Timmy10 Friday 25th Jan 2008 at 00:06

    It's such a shame considering the high quality of the Diddy Kong racing game. It seems like it has lack of gaming to it the way you guys put it, like a 400m race on mario and sonic just not as fun.

  11. chojin Friday 25th Jan 2008 at 09:24

    I'm not sure about this game, I would like to try it first. It looks funs but hmmmmmmm...not sure :shock:

  12. . Ryan . Friday 25th Jan 2008 at 18:18

    If nintendo made this Fully Online it Would Be More awesome then Mario Kart Ds and Mario Kart Wii Moulded Together..

  13. killercelibi Friday 25th Jan 2008 at 18:59

    Looks good, but mario cart wii will be better i am sure!

  14. Zabba 2 Friday 25th Jan 2008 at 19:50

    No bongo support is very confusing indeed, considering the game was initially developed with it in mind. It would have been nice for me to be able to use them again for something other than Donkey Konga 2. Unfortunately this is a Wii game I probably won't be getting to be honest. I just want a 'proper' DK game, something we've been without for quite some time.

  15. wii_underworld Friday 25th Jan 2008 at 21:55

    Three words to make anyone not buy this: Mario Kart Wii

  16. drwhobang Friday 25th Jan 2008 at 23:18

    i really enjoyed the bongo games on the gamecube but it looks like i will have to pack them away as they ca'nt be used in this game. Never to be seen for teen years, when i bring them out at an old school party, what a waste!

  17. SteveMega Saturday 26th Jan 2008 at 00:59

    Nintendo really needs to stop slapping The Kong on these games.

    Adding a pair of bongos to a game of any genre does not make a game good.

  18. sithskywalker Sunday 27th Jan 2008 at 11:13

    I played this game in the Nintendo World Store in October. I find it really dull.

  19. random_guy_14 Sunday 27th Jan 2008 at 16:12

    Why is it that when ONM review a new Wii game, they say the bad thing is that there's no online mode. Does EVERY Wii game need online mode? Super Mario Galaxy wouldn't be the same had it came with online capabitily.

  20. chojin Sunday 27th Jan 2008 at 17:59

    Why is it that when ONM review a new Wii game, they say the bad thing is that there's no online mode. Does EVERY Wii game need online mode? Super Mario Galaxy wouldn't be the same had it came with online capabitily.

    Well IMO if a console has online capabilities then they should be used. Not all games are suited for online play and I see no point with SMG being online but Racing Games and Competitive Games online is a must.

    Excite Truck missed on with online but Nitro Bike will fix that.
    Wii Sports missed out, playing Tennis against a mate.
    Mario and Sonic Olympics missed out, racing against friends across the world.

    IMO is just because the game coders cannot be bothered if the game has multi player capabilities then the code to say play online cannot be much.

  21. Parry Sunday 27th Jan 2008 at 20:31

    I agree with smashbros-kid, we're missing the platformers and we are getting to much spin-offs. Very Nice Visuals though. 6/10 from me :?

    Online capablities are a massive miss here aswell. As one member has already stated, if a console has online capabilities they should be used.

  22. Nintygirllolly Monday 28th Jan 2008 at 00:45

    This game looks fine, but are we all going to buy it whilst waiting for Mario Kart Wii? Is this our consolation prize?
    I'm not entirely convinced by DK's efforts for his first game on the Wii, however, I'm willing to give him a chance. I'm not hoping for much though, the anticipation of Mario Kart Wii is KILLING me.....

  23. uster dog Monday 28th Jan 2008 at 17:43

    its a load of old bananas,why have nintendo made DK look like a chump :?: he's a chimp :!: nintendo should stop monkeing around be fore we all go ape :!: :lol: :lol: :lol:

  24. Ou3nDaN Monday 28th Jan 2008 at 20:50

    I ask you all this... what had donkey kong become since rare left

    Rare = good DK

    Since rare left wevee had

    DK Jungle beat: Great game... but is it a DK game? There no Dkness about it, the only thing that makes it a doonkey kong game is the fact that the monke is in it, it could have been a mario game, or even a sonic game.

    DK King of swing: Gimmicks

    King of swing 2: More gimmicks

    Konga: Ok, its ok, bt its a spin off, when will we see a sucessor to DK64

    Barrel Blast: another spin off

    IS dk dead? I see people on the boards speculating about wii games at E3, the three main predictions are Pikmin thwii, Kid Icarus thwii and animal crossing (four?)

    but No mention of DK wii, it seems like Donkey kong is dead.

  25. Johny G Thursday 31st Jan 2008 at 17:14

    The controls are rubbish.

  26. jonowev Saturday 2nd Feb 2008 at 10:35

    70%? All the other reviews that i've read say that it's an absolute stinker. Avoid this and wait for Mario Kart.

  27. get2sammyb Monday 4th Feb 2008 at 14:06

    I didn't realise this was out yet until I saw it in the shops the other day. I'm going to give this one a miss purely because it hasn't really interested me since announcement (even in the Gamecube days).

  28. zelda_93 Saturday 1st Mar 2008 at 18:46

    WHAT R U ON MATE . Donkey kong jet race is awsum devserves at least 80 + mario kart is good but dk jet race is awsum. also what issue is the review in. also the controls are wat makes it fun arrr.

  29. Sonic Freak Friday 2nd Apr 2010 at 17:15

    If this wasnt donkey kong it would get a higher score

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