The latest in Nintendo’s line of re-released GameCube games tweaked to employ the motion control of the Wii is Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.
The original had a unique bongo drum controller complete with built-in microphone. For the most part it is a 2D side-scroller in which beating the right drum made Donkey Kong move right and beating the left to go left. Beating both at once made him jump, and clapping your hands made him clap too in order to collect bananas and attack enemies. The original was, and indeed still is one of the better and more innovative games on the console in my opinion.
It should go without saying that, what is essentially a direct port over to the Wii, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is still an excellent game – and it is. In fact it outshines many of the latest Wii games on every level.
Of course, being released under the ‘New Play Control’ banner means that the bongo drum controller is history. The Wii version does not support it – which is a real shame. While the game is perfectly playable using the motion sensing remote and nunchuk, you do lose the immensely satisfying tactile experience of banging on a drum. There’s just something about controlling a burly gorilla by smashing a drum with jungle-themed music playing that stimulates some long suppressed primitive urge.
Now we get to simulate the same action, using a drumming motion with the remote and nunchuk for moving left, right and jumping. Shaking them will perform DK’s clap attack and a timely press of the A button will make him grab the scattered bunches of bananas. You can also perform a ground-pound which forces plants to sprout, providing extra lives and bonus items.
At the end of each level you will meet one of several bosses, which are much bigger than DK. Here, the action swings around to a 3D view as you enter into a slugfest with your enemy. There is also a post-level mini-game of such where you have to shake the controllers vigorously (clap) to collect as many bananas as possible.
Graphically, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is superb, as it was on the GameCube. The Wii version is definitely cleaner, but not enough to really make a marked difference, however the inclusion of a widescreen option is very welcome. Sound-wise the game has perfect music to match the action. Throbbing, rhythmic jungle drumming and sound effects that highlight particular actions really draw you into the spirit of the game.
If you own a Wii, then this is a must-own game. Despite being relatively short in length, the action is jam-packed from start to finish and you’ll no doubt be pressing start straight away to play it all over again. However if you’re like me and still own a GameCube and Donkey Kong Jungle Beat with the brilliant bongo-drum controller then pull it out again and play that – because having that physicality involved beats simulating the actions hands down.