Helping Start the Wave of Plastic Musical Instruments
Easily the low point of the game. Everything is so simplified that it almost looks like an N64 game. The background areas while you are playing are basically bitmaps of jungle themes with Diddy Kong dancing in a full three frames of animation. It's quite sad really. But in all honesty, the lackluster graphics aren't a problem since the entire time you're playing you're going to be focused like a hawk on the notes. But at the same time, it would've been nice to see a little bit higher production value on the graphics as well as the presentation/menus. In a game that screams excitement and fun, the graphics are dull and outdated.
As stated previously, the game's schematics are simple to pick up, but difficult to master. If you've played DDR, you know the drill. Music starts and "notes" start scrolling in from right to left. You're objective is to respond to those notes when they reach the target zone on the left side of the screen. Yellow notes are Left Bongo; Red ones are Right; Pink ones are Both; and the Blue Bursts are a signal to clap your hands together. As you can imagine, the drumming action is addictive, but also the drums themselves are very responsive. You can cheat a little bit, but it takes some fun out of the game.
Donkey Konga features over 30 songs including various popular hits from the last few decades as well as some remixed Nintendo theme songs. This is a blessing as well as a curse and I'll tell you why. The over thirty songs cater to almost every musical genre, which is great since you get a taste of everything. The problem is that if your musical preference is limited, you're only going to enjoy one or two of the songs. Your best bet is to accept the songs for what they are and realize that most of them are fun to beat bongos to. My main complaint is that none of the licensed tracks are performed by the original artists. The cover bands are pretty good but it's immediately noticable that the songs aren't the original version.
In the same vein as Sony's Eye Toy, Donkey Konga is a great party game. You can have alot of fun with this game on your own, but set it up when some friends come over and you're really going to have a good time. The game becomes exponentially more fun with every person that gets added to the mix, so hopefully you know some people with the game that can bring their own drums. In the non-competitive modes, each person is playing a different portion of the song, so you all have to work together to make it sound right. You can also battle against each other and some extra bonus icons will find their way onto the screen to wreak havoc. It will take you a decent amount of time to go through all of the tracks on the various skill levels especially if you want to achieve the 'gold' ranking on each one. Also, once you learn the songs well enough, you can move to Jam Session where the notes show up as only barrels and you have to remember what notes they are. As you play, you earn coins that can be spent on various goodies such as harder versions of songs, new sound themes for the bongos, and three different mini-games. The mini-games are quite simple (i.e. the first one is a Whack-A-Mole clone), but they do add a little to the game's value.
Though the game may not be strikingly beautiful, it serves its purpose as an all-around fun game for any age. Hell, my sister has the gaming skill of a rock and she spent about 4 hours one night glued to the thing. It's that kind of captivating fun on a ground level that Nintendo consistantly and successfully provides.
*** This review was written for Flamevault.com shortly after the game's release. ***