Over the past twelve months we've seen an explosion in the number of peripherals for the top three console systems. Microsoft and Sony decided that Karaoke was the way to go, with the latter bringing a much better product to market and in turn better market share. Nintendo until now had kept a bit quiet on the issue, but considering their philosophy behind the company, it was not going to be long until they came up with something new and unique to keep their fanbase happy and perhaps lure even more people to the little gaming box. That unique game is Donkey Konga and while we may have some sore shoulders after giving it a lengthy play test, it is quite an enjoyable game. The only worry we have is the replay value.
Although it's a game that does not really lend itself to a storyline, Nintendo has come up with one anyway. One day Diddy and Donkey Kong are walking along the beach presumably looking for more bananas to eat when they come across a set of bongo drums. Crankey Kong tells them it contains special powers and they will be unleashed if they play on the bongos. So you as Donkey and Diddy take the bongos are start playing them.
There is two ways to play the Bongos, via the Bongo set shipping with the game or via the control pad. Obviously the bongo set gives a much better gaming experience and Nintendo really has produced a quality product and one with high design values. The game contains a few game modes for single player but the best fun definitely comes in the battle and co-operative multiplayer modes. It just doesn't have the same pizazz when friends are not around. For those who do play by themselves though it does bring some reward.
The main mode for single player is street performance. There is three levels of difficulty for each song included and this affects how many coins you can obtain from each time you play. The lowest level basically gives you individual beats to do without much work required quickly by your hands while the highest level will be a challenge for even a professional bongo player we think. As the songs play in the background, four types of icon appear on the screen, scrolling. Either left bongo, right bongo, both bongo or clap. You can also get an icon which requests a drum roll or lots of clapping It really is as simple as that, and the great thing about this game is that even those in your family who aren't avid gamers can pick it up and play in five minutes.
Other modes include challenge, which is very much like a survival mode in a street fighting style of game and jam performance where the game gives you a song, the bongos and your imagination to come up with your own composition and if you want the ultimate challenge, the toughest mode tasks you with remembering the bongo sequences without icons. After you complete each song you are rewarded a number of coins which can be spent in the games DK town mode. These coins can unlock new sounds for the songs, tougher bongo compositions or a few mini games which have been included. Three mini games are on offer to buy. One such game mode asks you to climb vines with the bongos while collecting fruit and avoiding enemy characters.
The songs offer a decent variety of well known hits as well as classics for the older gamer. Thirty songs have been included and recent hits such as Tubthumping (Chumbawumba) and Cosmic Girl (Jamiroquai) compliment songs such as You can't hurry love, Dancing in the Street and a few famous Nintendo tunes such as the Mario and Zelda themes. Depending on the level of difficulty in regards to the composition, the drums play in tune with the songs quite well, but it varies depending on the difficulty chosen and the current song.
The only real problem we have with the game is the replay value. In an afternoon we managed to basically get through all the game had to offer although that was hardly surprising. Donkey Konga is very much a game you get out when mates drop around, or a party is happening as light entertainment. It's not a game that you will get a lot out of in single player but friends give it a whole new meaning. The other problem we have is that beating those drums for a long period does give you a sore arm. This is hardly the developers fault and for an alternative you can use the controller.
Donkey Konga is a unique gaming experience and with friends is a heck of a lot of fun to play. The bongo kit which ships with the game is extremely sturdy and takes a severe beating without even giving a hint of breaking. If you're looking for something to play when the run of the mill titles on the Gamecube get a little boring once in a while, check this one out, especially if you regularly play with friends.