i’m not sure why, but this year has really felt like a mixed bag so far, and my playthrough of donkey kong jungle beat for gamecube was pretty disappointing. the last DK game i’d played, DK: king of swing on GBA, was a fantastic experience, and i suppose i’d been expecting at least as good a game since jungle beat seems to be well regarded and is by the same team at nintendo that had done mario galaxy.
unfortunately, even after playing through the whole game i find myself trying to figure out what people like about it. the bongo controller works reasonably well and i’m glad i have a use for them outside of the donkey konga games, but the game mechanics don’t ever quite transcend the core gimmick and the clapping movement in particular gets to be a chore (and tapping on the sides instead doesn’t feel quite responsive enough). there’s a decent amount of variety in terms of the gameplay, including some punch-out!!-esque fighting sections and some balloon fight-esque flying sections, but the game doesn’t come anywhere close to matching either of those games in terms of the level of sheer fun or sophistication. the central platforming gameplay relies on a lot of walljumping and manic pounding to pummel enemies, both of which get dull fast, and stages lack personality. there’s a distinct lack of variety in the boss battles as well, of which there are only three types, and no one seems to mention the fact that the majority of the time the screen is so zoomed out that you can barely see our hero DK at all. the game is incredibly short and achieves its longevity through the combo system that you have to master. the combo system, which relies on a lot of clapping, works reasonably well, but the stages are so dull that i had absolutely no motivation to explore them much. as a side note, i was surprised to see that the level that the smash bros. brawl stage is based on has pretty much nothing to do with the brawl stage other than the fact that there’s a waterfall in the background. also, an odd thing i noticed was that my memory card had all the stages unlocked, perhaps because i had started the game and then set it aside for a few years.
not much more to say, other than i’m glad the game was so short, otherwise it would’ve been really tedious to finish. the game was one of the few that was slightly remade for wii, and it might be interesting to try that out. otherwise i’m looking forward to DKC returns which looks amazing, although i really should go back and play through the rest of the original DKC games first.
jungle beat‘s jungle links:
– great entry at mariowiki.com including character artwork
– good FAQ at gamefaqs.com
– entry at wikipedia
– glowing review of the original version at nintendojo.com
– glowing review of the wii version at nintendolife.com. “incredible level designs” — wha-??