DK Jungle Climber
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2007-10-03 Nintendo DS Platform E (Everyone) Nintendo / Paon

Based on the mechanics of DK King of Swing for the Game Boy Advance and the look of the Donkey Kong series of games, comes DK Jungle Climber for the Nintendo DS.

The story begins as the Kong family heads out to Sun Sun Island on vacation. At some point, Donkey Kong spots a giant banana floating above the island, and soon enough, him and Diddy Kong will be travelling through a series or islands, collecting bananas and chasing King K. Rool.

The game is played entirely with the left and right trigger buttons. While on the ground, the triggers move Donkey Kong either left or right. Pressing both at the same time makes him jump. But for the most part, each represents one of DK's hands. By alternating between the left and right buttons you can get your friendly gorilla to grab hold or let go of the pegs, swinging around in the air to reach other areas. If you keep holding the button down, DK will spin around on the peg he's holding on to. Unfortunately, you can't just drop from a higher peg to a lower one, which is a bit annoying.

Each island is composed of several levels where the purpose is to swing your way to the end of the stage. The game is played in both screens, especially in vertical levels where you will be paying more attention to the top screen to see where you're going.

Aside from pegs to swing on, there are giant sunflowers that you can use to be catapulted into the air, cannon barrels that shoot you in the direction they're facing, switches, boulders, bonus barrels with mini-games, rolling barrels and DK barrels to release Diddy.

There is much to collect in the islands: plenty of bananas (100 give you an extra life), jewels (from defeating enemies, they can render DK invulnerable for a bit), letters (spelling KONG gives you an extra life), DK coins to unlock extra features and banana coins. There are also oil barrels that you must collect in order to use the plane to reach certain islands.

The thing is, many times it's really easy to miss all the goodies and find easier routes to the end of a given stage. Especially until you get the hang of the controls, which at first were extremely clumsy and frustrating. Fortunately, the tutorials make it a bit easier to get adjusted.

Many of the levels are vertically oriented. These levels make great use of the dual screens and they're not as easy as they seem, since many times missing one peg can bring you falling all the way down to the start. Doesn't really leave you much room to monkey around there! Some kind of checkpoint would have been useful, but I guess that would have made the entire game too easier.

The main gameplay is an Adventure mode, but if you get tired of all the swinging, there is a Challenge mode where you can play a few mini-games for a change of pace. Last but not least, there is also an online Versus Battle for up to four players using a single game card via DS Download Play. Players pick their characters (Donkey, Diddy, Dixie and Funky) and compete in Speed Climb or Booster Barrel races.

To sum it up, DK Jungle Swing is a different type of platformer with a wacky story, strange alien characters, plenty of mini-games and lots of extra content. But the difficulty of certain stages will eventually have you going bananas.

Special thanks to Allison Guillen, Julia Roether and Nintendo for providing a copy of this title.