Donkey Konga

October 28, 2004

[floatleft][/floatleft]I wanted to hate this game. I really wanted to hate it and never buy it…ever. There was just something that made me want to scream “the only reason Donkey Kong plays the bongos is to activate special pads in DK64!!!” But then, low and behold, we got a review copy of the game. All I can say now is; I still hate the game.

I hate Donkey Konga for one reason and one reason alone, it is so freaking ADDICTIVE. I cannot, yes you heard me – cannot put those bongos down. I am a Donkey Kongette for sure. Now, I am not saying this is the game that revolutionized the gaming world. No, not at all. Heck, it isn’t even the best Gamecube game that there is; but by golly if that sucker doesn’t reel you in and keep you eyes glued (unblinking) for hours on end. I’ll tell you another thing too; it sure brings out the competitive side in some people (cough, cough, CONE).

The best way to describe Donkey Konga (and it sort of taints it in my mind) is to call it DDR (this is Dance Dance Revolution for all of you people that have been asleep under a rock for, oh I dunno, the past couple of years!) I digress… Donkey Konga is like DDR for your hands. You start off as a street performer at Monkey level, the easiest level. You can pick from a wide variety of songs, from Bingo (yes, that loveable song about a Farmer’s dog B-I-N-G-O) to Wild Thing (you make my heart sing…you know…with all the parenthesis this review it is starting to reveal inner thoughts like an episode of Scrubs (and for all you people who don’t know what Scrubs is check you local listings, it’s good and it’s on ABC…and yes, I put a parenthesis in a parenthesis)) to the Mario Brothers and Zelda themes. So, to sum that ridiculously hard to follow sentence up – lots of music to chose from. My personal favorite is Rock Lobster by the B-52’s.

[floatright][/floatright]The controls are simple enough to figure out. The yellow half circle means hit the left bongo. It just so happens that the yellow shading is on the left side as well in case you forget what the color means. The red half circle, yes indeed shaded to the right, means hit right bongo. The pink full circle means hit both and the burst means clap. Here’s a tip: if the song tempo is too fast to actually clap, just tap the side of your bongo. The clapping is achieved by a sensor in the middle of the bongos that picks the clapping noise up. It also picks up other noises sometimes too, like the baby or the dog barking or a door slamming. It isn’t bad enough to screw the game up though. The nice thing is that you don’t have to have a Donkey Konga bongo to enjoy this game; you can use a regular old bongo if you are clever enough with a soldering iron and some wire. I jest; you can use your Gamecube controller to play.

There are three levels in the street performance part of the game – Monkey (the easiest), Chimp, and then Gorilla in which you have to use the coins you earn playing in the first two levels to purchase the songs in the Gorilla level. In case you were wondering if the songs actually get harder with each level progression…the answer is YES! Gorilla songs are definitely a challenge to beat and a lot of the Chimp versions of the songs have their moments of great frustration as well. To earn the coins to buy the Gorilla songs (and other things which I will get to later) you have to hit the colored circle, or note, as it passes through a circle that denotes the time to hit the appropriate bongo. At this point in time you earn a great, ok, bad, or miss for the note you just played. The more greats and okays you get, the higher the coinage you earn. It also counts your combo, which is the number of times you hit an okay or a great with no bads or misses. The nice thing is that if you want to sort of improvise during the breaks in the songs, you can with no penalty. The only time you get penalized is if you miss a note completely or if you get a bad on a note.

The other ways to enjoy the wonderfulness that is the Donkey Konga is to play another mode, such as multiplayer or the Jam session. In the Jam session you have to play the songs at the level of your choosing from memory. I have yet to accomplish this task. I have a child to chase around, remember this before you make fun of me. I can barely remember to take a shower, much less the “notes” to a Donkey Konga song…any who… I am not sure what you get for beating a song in the Jam session because, like I said, I have yet to do it.

In the multiplayer area of Donkey Konga you have a few options. The first is Challenge mode. In the Challenge mode you work with the people you are playing with (up to four people total) to see how many songs you can make it through without screwing up horribly. There is, of course, room for some error. No coins are awarded in this area, so don’t play it unless you just want to see yourself get a really high score. Another multiplayer mode is the Battle mode. In this mode you compete with another player to see who can get the best score in a particular song. It is fun to kick people’s butts here. Not to brag, but I showed Cone a thing or two. The last mode available in multiplayer is the Mini-game multiplayer mode. I haven’t talked about mini-games yet, so I will hold off on that for now.

[floatleft][/floatleft]Mini-games. Okay, so I am not really holding off on the subject of mini-games… There are three mini-games you can purchase; Bash K Rool, 100 Meter Vine, and Banana Juggle. I will not talk too heavily on these as not to ruin your fun in earning the coins and purchasing them for yourself. All I will say about them is that they are fun. I particularly liked bashing K Rool.

Speaking of spending the coinage that you earn; that is what DK Town in for. In the area you can purchase the mini-games as well as purchase new sound sets for your bongos. Some examples are: NES, Big Band, Latin Percussion, and Zelda. I personally found it too hard to concentrate with a different sound set on, but I am sure people more talented than I can use them. This is also where you purchase the Gorilla level songs. The other thing available to you at this point is the place to adjust your bongo settings.

Well kids, this is the end of the Donkey Konga trip. If you want to experience more I suggest renting or buying the game for yourself. In all honesty, the bottom line is this-if you like to have fun (and like music or DDR or Donkey Kong or Banana birds or bongos or winning) then you will probably like to play Donkey Konga. Everyone that I have played it with so far has really enjoyed it. I also think it is worth the few extra dollars to get an extra set of bongos (The game comes with 1 set already and additional ones are $29.99-$34.99). It makes it that much more fun. You could even try to convince your friends to spring for the other set or two and I guarantee you’ll have a blast.

In conclusion, Donkey Konga = good.

Score: 5/5

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