Donkey Konga
Reviewed by Michelle Thurlow
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2005-05-26 GameCube Music/Rhythm E (Everyone) Nintendo / Namco

Nintendo's 800-pound gorilla Donkey Kong has been recruited for many treacherous adventures over the years, but in Donkey Konga for the Game Cube, he may face his most daunting challenge yet.

In the back-story to the game (but does a bongo game really need a back-story?), we learn that Donkey and Diddy Kong have stumbled upon a magical set of barrel bongos which they find on a beach. They decide then to use them to perform for people in order to earn lots of money so they can buy as many bananas as they want. Because we've all seen millionaire buskers, right?

Anyway, since both apes have about as much rhythm as a wet noodle, they will need a lot of practice.

First of all, let's get one thing straight: you will need the bongo controller if you are expecting to have any kind of fun with this title. So if you do plan on shelling out to purchase Donkey Konga, make sure the bongos are bundled with the game. You could try to use the standard Game Cube controller (which is really awkward at the best of times) but you'll plain stink at drumming and clapping with it and your friends will surely laugh at you.

When used with the bongos, the game's control is practically flawless and thus somewhat frustrating, if only because you can't blame the drum controller for making you look like an arrhythmic fool every time you miss a barrel note. In fact, I would go as far as recommending the purchase of a second bongo controller, since Donkey Konga is clearly meant to be a party game.

The eclectic music selection of Donkey Konga further indicates that this was a title meant to be enjoyed with friends (soon to become your schooled opponents). More than likely overheard at the Nintendo software development meeting: "Let's make sure Donkey Konga features songs from every music genre so no one can complain that their favorite music style isn't represented in the game."

The musical repertory includes dance-pop gems like "Loco-Motion" and "Rock Lobster", as well as Queen's classic "We Will Rock You." Even that country-western staple "On the Road Again" appears on the track list. I kid you not.

The only disappointment I experienced regarding the song selection concerns the themes chosen from other Nintendo games. It's almost as if the developers chose recognizable tunes instead of good ones. For example, does the original Zelda theme song strike you as a composition fit for a bongo game? I don't think so.

As you progress, you will unlock lots of Easter egg-type goodies, some of which are more fun to play than others. Most obviously, you'll open up new songs by purchasing them in the game's store using the money you've earned from your amazing drumming and clapping skills. You will also be able unlock ludicrous sound effects for your bongo controller, which you'll try once and then forget about, as well as three entertaining mini-games: Bash K. Rool (whack-a-mole), 100m Vine Climb (like the original DK Junior), and Banana Juggle (tossing fuzzy kittens into the air - just kidding!).

Besides the aforementioned street performance, multi-player, and mini-game modes, Donkey Konga also features the very cool Jam Session option and the interminable Challenge mode. The latter challenges you to play all 33 songs in a row without flunking a single song. Finishing Challenge mode on the expert difficulty level was pretty tedious and time-consuming. Challenge mode could have easily been axed from Donkey Konga without detracting from the game's overall replay value.

Jam Session is basically the co-operative version of street performance mode. This feature is fabulous because you can play with a friend (or the computer) without having to compete for points. Even better, the drum beat patterns in this mode are more difficult and clever than those in street performance mode.

Ultimately, Donkey Konga is a fun, funky title for anyone who likes drums, the rhythm-action genre, or party games. So go ahead, go bananas and invite all of your friends over to have some fun with your bongos.