New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle BeatESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is a re-release under the New Play Control label. It is based off the original Donkey Kong Jungle Beat on the GameCube and has been reworked with some changes and additions including the use of the unique controls of the Nintendo Wii. Originally, Jungle Beat made use of the Donkey Kong Bongo Drums accessory, which at the time was an innovative and unique controller for the GameCube system. From first glance this game is your typical Donkey Kong side scrolling adventure in which you traverse levels avoiding obstacles, collecting bananas and preparing for the great battle against the final boss. However once you start playing you realize there is a little more here.
Jungle Beat is relatively strong in the graphics department which may seem strange considering that the original title was originally created for an earlier generation console. Each Jungle Kingdom level is beautifully crafted with vibrant coloured landscapes and is full of rich detail like floating clouds, swaying trees and even the little monkeys waving at you trying to get your attention. The characters within the game are really well done too, with some special attention having been put into Donkey Kong’s facial expressions which range from happy, thoughtful to enraged depending on the situations he finds himself in. The baddies throughout the game are not as detailed as Donkey Kong, but then again you seem to pay less attention on them as you play through the game. Overall I was surprised at how well the original graphics held up and anyone who plays this game will enjoy the visuals that Jungle Beat provides.
The music is instrumental and very typical of Donkey Kong or any similar styled Nintendo title. It is upbeat, cheery and very suitable to the on-screen action. As with the music you can expect the some typical sound effects including the distinctive tone/chime when you collect an item or your bananas to the familiar sound of Donkey Kong’s monkey grunts. As I played there were various times that I found the combination of the music and sound effects could seem a little frenzied and overwhelming. It’s not particularly a bad thing, just something that I noticed. Jungle Beat also makes use of the speaker in the Wii Remote to add another level of sound to the game. A varied selection of sounds such as blasts, impacts as your attacks land against your enemy, and even the cheers when you defeat a certain creature, can be heard through the Wii Remote. Overall the sound effects are plentiful and suited for this type of game.
The storyline of Jungle Beat is centered on Donkey Kong reclaiming all of the Jungle Kingdoms that have been over run by a pack of wild baddies who have stolen a boat load of bananas. The main levels, Jungle Kingdoms, are broken down into three different smaller levels, two being action levels and one being a boss level. The controls throughout these levels are pretty simple and make use of both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. The basic controls are “A” to jump and the analog stick on the Nunchuk to walk, run or swim. The more advanced controls involve extra button pushing to perform Air Grabs, Ground Slaps, Ground Pounds, Wall Jumps and Back Flips. In addition to the buttons, shaking the Wii Remote or Nunchuk will allow you to perform a Sound-Wave attack or perform a variety of moves based on the object you are near when you shake the remote.
The first two action levels within each kingdom require you to use all of your controls to collect as many bananas as possible. Collect them off the ground or grab them out of the air, the latter will earn you more banana points. Pull off some stylish combos and this too will earn you banana points. It is important to note that the more bananas you collect the more health you will have in the final level to beat the boss, so performing air grabs and combos really pays off in the end. During the action levels you have three health hearts, which you can replenish by collecting other hearts throughout the level or after having collected 200, 500 and 1000 bananas. If your health is at its peak when you reach banana plateaus a 1-up coin will appear instead of a heart.
The final level of each Jungle Kingdom features a boss stage where, as mentioned before, the bananas you have collected in the previous stages become your health for the battle. Each boss has a weak spot that you will need to focus on as it will make beating the boss easier. The boss battles are by far the most enjoyable levels of the game, especially the boxing-style battles where you have to outsmart the boss by dodging and throwing in a quick succession of punches to defeat your foe.
After completing a Jungle Kingdom you have the opportunity to earn crests. Your final banana point score, after taking into account the damage you incurred during your King (Boss) Battle, will be tallied. If you have collected enough points, for example 200 or 500, you will earn a crest from the tree spirit. I found collecting the crests to be quite difficult especially after having been continually pulverized to near death during the King Battles. Some practice and some careful attention to the Boss weak spots pays off in the end as you earn crests and these crests might help something good happen down the road (no spoiler here).
The gameplay at times seems very simple, but as you progress through the game some portions can seem extremely agonizing as you try futilely to jump to certain area, only to find that your approach wasn’t the best. However, the majority of the levels are laid out pretty well and you can avoid some of these agonizing moments. The only complaint I really have about the gameplay is that the length of play is a little shorter than I would have liked and I wished there was a bit more “meat on the bones” in this area.
New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is a solid Nintendo title that I would recommend to Donkey Kong fans and newcomers alike. Although the gameplay length was shorter then I envisioned the introduction of Wii centric controls leads to the game being re-introduced to a whole new audience who should have a lot of fun. Jungle Beat has some unique features that will allow it to stand apart from the original SNES Donkey Kong series and it is unlikely to disappoint fans of the great ape.