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New Play Control: Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat Review

Donkey Kong Country, but shorter

As readers will have seen from our recent reviews of Pikmins one and two, New Play Control games on the Wii present a dilemma for the humble games critic. Knowing that many people have played the original game in the days of the GameCube, you basically have to do two reviews; one for those that have played it before, and one for those of you that have yet to come across the game.

So, for the uninitiated, the original: Famed for its use of the Donkey Konga bongos, it asked players to tap the right drum to go right, left to go left and tap both to jump. You could also clap to er, clap in the game, which was the main form of attack.

Click to view larger image

Monkeying Around

But this New Play Control version doesn't need bongos, so forget everything written in the introduction and everything you know about Jungle Beat already. Instead, consider this a new version of Donkey Kong Country - an old-school 2D platformer with proper controls via the joystick and a jump button, with a little waggling thrown in to attack, just like Mario Galaxy.

Without the bongo controls, it's a worthy addition to the proud lineage of Donkey Kong Country games that were so popular on the SNES, back when Whigfield and Wet Wet Wet ruled the pop charts in the mid-nineties. Grim days.

It features the usual platforming, barrel-blasting and banana collecting you'd expect from a Donkey Kong game, and some genuinely impressive visuals , even years after its release.

So far, so predictable. But it's not an ordinary platformer. It's a really, really well designed platformer, and there's a reason for that. As you may have already noted from the feature beginning on page 26, Jungle Beat has got pedigree. It was directed by the rising star of Nintendo's development team, Yoshiaki Koizumi, one of the key talents behind the genius of Zelda duo Ocarina Of Time and Majora's Mask. And Super Mario Galaxy. You know, that game that we awarded 97%.

Obviously it's not as brilliant as any of these games, but it remains a very enjoyable romp through jungle, desert, ice and lava/castley worlds, and offers up several interesting game mechanics that reward repeated play. Charging through the game just to get to the end of the level and beat the boss misses the point entirely. Collecting as many bananas as possible is the name of the game.

The more bananas you get, the more crests are awarded at the end of each stage. Crests unlock

bonus levels, some of which are exclusive to this new Wii version, and are well worth seeking out for extra thrills.

Click to view larger image
There's also a nice little touch in there to make you to explore, which we're surprised hasn't been ripped off by other platformers by now. Little end-of-stage videos of bonus areas you may have missed give you an extra little nudge to return to the level and max out your 'nana count, and give you a real reason to return.

On the subject of bananas, there's a combo system as well, which rewards the rhythm of your play by doubling up the banana count. If judged correctly, a neat string of jumps and general bouncing about can turn an otherwise fairly standard haul into a combo-wielding banana bonanza. Yes, I used the phrase 'banana bonanza'. I'm not ashamed.

Jungle Is (Not) Massive

But there's a problem, as you'll have guessed already from peeking at the score over there. Despite great visuals, charming sound and great level design, just like the GameCube version, it's just too short. We'd sent the final boss packing after a couple of evenings' extended play, and it didn't take that much longer after that to unlock and polish off the extra, Wii-only stages. It's also ruthlessly linear. Even the Donkey Kong Country titles of yore had a world map as a between-stage distraction, and branching paths along which to progress. In Jungle Beat, you simply unlock one fruitily-named kingdom after another and plough on through.

Another bugbear is the bosses. They're a genuine highlight of the game until they simply start repeating themselves over and over in slightly tougher variations right up until the final one. A real shame.

Turned into a 'proper' platformer in its own right without bongos, Jungle Beat is great entertainment hamstrung by its tragically short lifespan. If it had offered the same quality platforming teamed with the length, depth and challenge of those classic 2D titles on the SNES, this would cruise a Gold Award. As it is though, it's for fans of the series and younger gamers only.

Comments

37 comments so far...
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  1. Alex Muscas Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 08:42

    First comment!
    I didn't actually think Donkey Kong Jungle Beat would get anything lower than 89, but there you go!

  2. IAMnoob Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 09:48

    I tried the original with bongos and it was good but im not sure about this one
    I dont want to spend money on something too short but it seems quite good otherwise! :?

  3. Fii Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 11:30

    I still have the original with bongos, and I don't think I will buy the NPC version. It's just so much more theraputic to bash on the bongos. I think it'd be good for fans who couldn't afford the original and newcomers to the series.

  4. Gavin Rozee Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 12:26

    Personally, I choose quality over quantity.

    I'm not a massive DK fan, or a young gamer (I'm 21), but I've ordered this despite owning the GC original. Guess I went against ONM's advice.

    The review felt to me that you wanted to give a lower score because you usually give everything 94% or something. I'm not saying you overrate games, but that you probably wanted a less predictable score.

  5. tomonm Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 13:22

    Personally, I choose quality over quantity.

    I'm not a massive DK fan, or a young gamer (I'm 21), but I've ordered this despite owning the GC original. Guess I went against ONM's advice.

    The review felt to me that you wanted to give a lower score because you usually give everything 94% or something. I'm not saying you overrate games, but that you probably wanted a less predictable score.

    Or we just played the game and gave it the score it deserved. Each game is reviewed on its own merits. Obviously we don't give everything 94% and we don't lower scores to even things up as you seem to be suggesting.

  6. KingDedede_90 Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 14:05

    far too low in my opinion. far too low...

  7. Gavin Rozee Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 14:19

    Personally, I choose quality over quantity.

    I'm not a massive DK fan, or a young gamer (I'm 21), but I've ordered this despite owning the GC original. Guess I went against ONM's advice.

    The review felt to me that you wanted to give a lower score because you usually give everything 94% or something. I'm not saying you overrate games, but that you probably wanted a less predictable score.

    Or we just played the game and gave it the score it deserved. Each game is reviewed on its own merits. Obviously we don't give everything 94% and we don't lower scores to even things up as you seem to be suggesting.

    75% is pretty low. NOM gave the GC version 89% or something I think. Surely 16:9, 480p, new levels etc should keep the score at a similar level, if not making it higher? Maybe a point or two off for being four years old etc. but I can't understand why the score should be approx 15% lower mainly based on the criticism that the game is too short when it actually has more levels than the GC version.

  8. Gavin Rozee Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 14:21

    Personally, I choose quality over quantity.

    I'm not a massive DK fan, or a young gamer (I'm 21), but I've ordered this despite owning the GC original. Guess I went against ONM's advice.

    The review felt to me that you wanted to give a lower score because you usually give everything 94% or something. I'm not saying you overrate games, but that you probably wanted a less predictable score.

    Or we just played the game and gave it the score it deserved, in our opinion. Each game is reviewed on its own merits. Obviously we don't give everything 94% and we don't lower scores to even things up as you seem to be suggesting.

    Sorry for double post, but I'm using iPod Touch.

    I fixed your post for you Chris :)

  9. yubel Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 15:00

    well,this is the dk game for me i suppose.
    Seems ok ill keep an eye out for this.

    Good reveiw onm keep it up. 8)

  10. GamerKid Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 15:00

    Personally, I choose quality over quantity.

    I'm not a massive DK fan, or a young gamer (I'm 21), but I've ordered this despite owning the GC original. Guess I went against ONM's advice.

    The review felt to me that you wanted to give a lower score because you usually give everything 94% or something. I'm not saying you overrate games, but that you probably wanted a less predictable score.

    Or we just played the game and gave it the score it deserved, in our opinion. Each game is reviewed on its own merits. Obviously we don't give everything 94% and we don't lower scores to even things up as you seem to be suggesting.

    Sorry for double post, but I'm using iPod Touch.

    I fixed your post for you Chris :)


    It,s Tom :wink:

  11. ILoveWii Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 15:41

    Other reviewers gave it higher scores, which is a shocker considering ONM is usually a high giver.

  12. Ai64 Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 15:42

    I've never played this before.

  13. Gavin Rozee Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 16:18

    Personally, I choose quality over quantity.

    I'm not a massive DK fan, or a young gamer (I'm 21), but I've ordered this despite owning the GC original. Guess I went against ONM's advice.

    The review felt to me that you wanted to give a lower score because you usually give everything 94% or something. I'm not saying you overrate games, but that you probably wanted a less predictable score.

    Or we just played the game and gave it the score it deserved, in our opinion. Each game is reviewed on its own merits. Obviously we don't give everything 94% and we don't lower scores to even things up as you seem to be suggesting.

    Sorry for double post, but I'm using iPod Touch.

    I fixed your post for you Chris :)


    It,s Tom :wink:

    My bad, sorry Tom. No offence to Chris but he's usually the one defending ONM review scores, so I assumed you were him.

  14. Heroofhyrule Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 17:13

    Personally, I choose quality over quantity.

    I'm not a massive DK fan, or a young gamer (I'm 21), but I've ordered this despite owning the GC original. Guess I went against ONM's advice.

    The review felt to me that you wanted to give a lower score because you usually give everything 94% or something. I'm not saying you overrate games, but that you probably wanted a less predictable score.

    Or we just played the game and gave it the score it deserved, in our opinion. Each game is reviewed on its own merits. Obviously we don't give everything 94% and we don't lower scores to even things up as you seem to be suggesting.

    Sorry for double post, but I'm using iPod Touch.

    I fixed your post for you Chris :)

    Oh wait, it was THEIR OPPINION?! Of course it was their oppinion! Most of the things most people say are oppinion! He doesn't need to put: "by the way, thats our oppinion." in every reveiew they do, or every sentence they make!

  15. Gavin Rozee Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 17:21

    ^ In my opinion, you can't spell.

  16. allanironmaiden Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 17:25

    as a fan of the DKC games and series i'm actually quite offended that this could be compared to those games.....as those games STILL are MUCH better than this. where is K.Rool??? it just doesnt add up to the quality of that series imo.

    this is still a decent DK game though....but we really want a PROPER DKC4!

  17. Adam_Lloyd Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 17:50

    Personally, I choose quality over quantity.

    I'm not a massive DK fan, or a young gamer (I'm 21), but I've ordered this despite owning the GC original. Guess I went against ONM's advice.

    The review felt to me that you wanted to give a lower score because you usually give everything 94% or something. I'm not saying you overrate games, but that you probably wanted a less predictable score.

    Or we just played the game and gave it the score it deserved, in our opinion. Each game is reviewed on its own merits. Obviously we don't give everything 94% and we don't lower scores to even things up as you seem to be suggesting.

    Sorry for double post, but I'm using iPod Touch.

    I fixed your post for you Chris :)

    Oh wait, it was THEIR OPPINION?! Of course it was their oppinion! Most of the things most people say are oppinion! He doesn't need to put: "by the way, thats our oppinion." in every reveiew they do, or every sentence they make!

    Yes, but he wasn't implying that it was his 'oppinion'; in fact, he said that it was what the game deserved. Not what he thought it deserved.

    Yeah, you can really look too deeply into these things :lol:

    And I personally thought the score you gave it was much too low. Sure, this game isn't a scratch on the rare games, but it is still a very strong effort, with more emphasis on those beautiful graphics and a good amount of extra content. The fact that you believe this deserves a lower score than sonic - dark knight (79%) is insulting, to the development team and to the gamers that may take your review as a recommendation (or not so) for this game. :shock:

  18. Otis P Jivefunk Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 18:27

    The review score given to this game simply isn't credible. As others have pointed out it's heavily floored and it stinks of hypocrisy. Get some consistency with your reviews for the love of god. This game is far more consistent than your reviews are…

  19. red lobster51 Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 18:43

    bewildering review score for a fantastic game.

  20. Gavin Rozee Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 19:40

    DK Jungle Beat - 75%. Mysims - 94%.

    My 11 year old sister wouldn't even agree with that. Whatever though, opinions are opinions.

  21. Evosnake Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 19:50

    Should I but this game??
    I played through DK country 2 and I think DK is awesome!

  22. Evosnake Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 19:53

    Should I but this game??
    I played through DK country 2 and I think DK is awesome!

  23. lminett Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 20:02

    Id say this is the best looking cube game that came out!
    Fair enough it is on the short side but the replay value is pretty good, i still play it just to replay the bosses or certain levels. Now considering the controls look easyier and the game has added content surely this game should get at least 80-85%? Youd give it a gold award if it was longer? then why is the score so low? if thats really the only fault, i think your being a bit harsh on this one.

  24. Otis P Jivefunk Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 20:34

    The combo system gives it bags of replay value. It is a genius game, and they went on to make Galaxy so it's not hard to see why...

  25. Gavin Rozee Thursday 4th Jun 2009 at 20:54

    Should I but this game??
    I played through DK country 2 and I think DK is awesome!

    Yes. Think of it as a slightly watered down DK Country but with GC graphics that are better than 90% of actual Wii games.

  26. celtic_badger Friday 5th Jun 2009 at 03:37

    Personally, I choose quality over quantity.

    I'm not a massive DK fan, or a young gamer (I'm 21), but I've ordered this despite owning the GC original. Guess I went against ONM's advice.

    The review felt to me that you wanted to give a lower score because you usually give everything 94% or something. I'm not saying you overrate games, but that you probably wanted a less predictable score.

    Or we just played the game and gave it the score it deserved. Each game is reviewed on its own merits. Obviously we don't give everything 94% and we don't lower scores to even things up as you seem to be suggesting.

    75% is pretty low. NOM gave the GC version 89% or something I think. Surely 16:9, 480p, new levels etc should keep the score at a similar level, if not making it higher? Maybe a point or two off for being four years old etc. but I can't understand why the score should be approx 15% lower mainly based on the criticism that the game is too short when it actually has more levels than the GC version.


    It probably suffers from its still pretty much the same game syndrome as well as the lengh of the game and another thing times change so games are expected to get longer aswell as bigger that may be a reason why the lengh of the game affects the score now.

  27. sivlock Friday 5th Jun 2009 at 08:57

    Is it just me peeved off but with the way DK is going I played the original on the SNES and the other which were good platformers then the N64 version was really good then they haven't even attempted another platformer for one of my favourite characters, what's up with that?

  28. FireHawk Friday 5th Jun 2009 at 12:01

    I've been meaning to get myself a copy of the GC original for quite a while now, but now this version is out. I'm glad they didn't try to replicate the bongo controls by having you wave the remote and nunchuk around, but surely this also means that it loses what made the original so interesting in the first place... Or something.

    So now, I'm torn. Bah!

  29. Hylian_Red Friday 5th Jun 2009 at 14:22

    I've played this & it's fantastic. One of the most creative & fun games ever. The bosses are also brilliant.

    Ah well. I'm still rebuying this title. I'd advise anyone to give it go if thier unsure.

  30. Gamer Xtreme Friday 5th Jun 2009 at 16:50

    Your all being silly. A 4 year old gamecube game which is very short deserves a 75% (although when compared to some of ONMs far more generous scores it does seem ratrher harsh) I think this is one of those time when ONM is right and your just blaming them for the fact this isn't another Gold award standard game.

    It seems ONM may be getting its act together.

  31. Gavin Rozee Friday 5th Jun 2009 at 20:34

    Your all being silly. A 4 year old gamecube game which is very short deserves a 75% (although when compared to some of ONMs far more generous scores it does seem ratrher harsh) I think this is one of those time when ONM is right and your just blaming them for the fact this isn't another Gold award standard game.

    It seems ONM may be getting its act together.

    It's not just the score that bothers me, it's also the fact that their reviews have no consistency, ie - worse, and shorter games have been given 90% +.

  32. deadboy522 Saturday 6th Jun 2009 at 17:04

    Nothing can beat the bongo :lol:

  33. Gamer Xtreme Sunday 7th Jun 2009 at 15:36

    Your all being silly. A 4 year old gamecube game which is very short deserves a 75% (although when compared to some of ONMs far more generous scores it does seem ratrher harsh) I think this is one of those time when ONM is right and your just blaming them for the fact this isn't another Gold award standard game.

    It seems ONM may be getting its act together.

    It's not just the score that bothers me, it's also the fact that their reviews have no consistency, ie - worse, and shorter games have been given 90% +.

    They seem to be getting a lot more consistant, you jst still have bad memories if the MySims incident.

  34. metroid fan Monday 8th Jun 2009 at 18:46

    I think the score is a bit low but I'm still going to buy this because I didn't buy it the first time around on the gamecube.

    and I think this game looks brilliant after all the videos I've seen of the game. 8)

  35. mathewsinc Thursday 11th Jun 2009 at 11:04

    shoule i buy gamecube original with bongos instead ????????????????????

  36. steve w Saturday 27th Jun 2009 at 11:04

    Is it just me peeved off but with the way DK is going I played the original on the SNES and the other which were good platformers then the N64 version was really good then they haven't even attempted another platformer for one of my favourite characters, what's up with that?

    You are right I have always liked the dk games better than mario and ever since rare left donkey kong has not been the same its about time nintendo made another proper dk game or maybe with someone doing it what about retro studios.

    Why has no one reviewed resident evil for the wii yet what does play like is it better than the gamecube version?

  37. Quantum Raven Saturday 11th Jul 2009 at 20:29

    I never owned the Gamecube original because I never owned a Gamecube however one of my friends brought their Gamecube with them when they came round my house once and brought this with him for us to play along with other games so I tried it out but the bongo controls of the original felt so clunky and hard to operate for me that I pegged it 40 times in a row! so I was glad when the New Play Control version was anounced for Wii because it has traditional controls plus waggling the Wii Remote and Nunchuk and even though I'm 19 years old I'm thinking of giving this a go because I kind of like the new controls and the visuals.

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