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Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
  opened by paleface at 05:11:47 03/20/05  
  last modified by paleface at 05:24:03 03/20/05  
  paleface [sys=GC; cat=Platformer; loc=NA]
This is a platformer that you play with bongo drums.
That sounds silly, and it is, but it also works quite well. Drum the left bongo to run left, right to run right, both to jump, clap to have DK do a clap shockwave attack or grab on nearby objects. See how easy that is?
The stages are kind of Sonic-like in that you can be whisked through them quite quickly if you hit all the right parts just right. Usually this involves quick flurries of clapping and drumming to bound through a succession of obstacles quickly. Also like Sonic, you're trying to collect stuff along the way, although here it's bananas instead of rings, and thankfully the stages are arranged such that you can get everything and speed through with top time if you do it just right.
BUT! There's more. That's right: combos. If you can do a bunch of adept banana-gathering flips and so forth in quick succession, you build a combo counter, which multiplies your banana rewards. So! You can actually play each stage for score (and/or time), which is both fun and frustrating, naturally. Getting a certain number of bananas per stage wins you different medals, and you need a certain amount of medals to advance to the next set of stages.
The stages are highly creative and it's fun just tearing through rollercoaster-like hillsides, bouncing-ball flowers, super-sprouting mushrooms, ice-clad halls blocked by bizarre spiked heads, etc etc. Each ends in a fight against a suitably massive boss, but these fights, while epic in proportion and unique in control, go by quite quickly--like the rest of the game.
Yes, apparently it's quite short. But, as I mentioned, you can replace stages for score/time, so...there you go. Drumming is pretty fun, and the game as a whole feels, well, you know, therapeutic. And you don't even have to go out in the woods with other men!
Each boss fight really deserves its own description, but I'll just describe a couple. In the first, a giant ape engages you in fisticuffs (no, there is no real story here). Clap to dodge just as he punches, then pound the bongos alternately to give him a flurry of counter-punches. Against another boss, a giant buzzard, you have to jump up to a helpful monkey just as the buzzard flies overhead. The monkey flips you up in the air, you land on the buzzard' egg? and pound the crap out of it. Repeat, with the buzzard getting tricker, counter-attacking, etc.
They do interesting things with camera and scale here. Often, when you get right on an enemy, the camera switches in to a super close-up view, usually at a dramatic angle, and then you pound the drums furiously to mash the enemy with a barrage of punches. During these barrages the screen tends to go negative or blurry or something unusual like that. The whole effect is quite dynamic, and you really feel like you're wielding the fists of doom on the poor soul. Fun!
And then other times the camera zooms way out in side view, like when you're careening madly along on some kind of polar oxen thing, chased by a huge...uh...thing, and pursuing a giant rolling snowball. Yes! Don't ask questions, just try to get all the bananas the stay ahead of the thing!
Graphics are sharp and colorful. Seamless, really, and the up-close bosses look fantastic, with no polygon edges in sight, just smooth, lushly-shaded (sometimes furry) curves and spikes. Nice.
The music, on the other hand, doesn't have much to say for itself. It's inoffensive, I suppose, but not perhaps as hard driving as a game with bongos for controls might have led you to expect. Then again, this is Nintendo.
This is just a peach of a crazy sidescroller. More sidescrollers should be made these days period, and if they can have crazy yet intuitive control schemes and beautiful graphics like this, so much the better.

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