#539 Donkey Konga

Posted: 9th June 2011 by Mulholland in Games
Tags: , , ,

60th game played so far

Genre: Music
Platform: Gamecube
Year of Release: 2003
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Nintendo

Of all the Nintendo franchises to receive a music-based game I bet there are people who would have bet good money that it would have fallen on The Legend Of Zelda to produce some sort of outing with an ocarina peripheral. After all it does heavily feature music and it DID later spin-off a Crossbow Training shooting game.

In the end though the task fell to Donkey Kong provide the means for Nintendo to mass-market a home-console music game periphery drawing inspiration from the successful Taiko no Tatsujin arcade games.

Our Thoughts

To quote a Harry Hill running joke from a while ago: “I like to play my bongos in the morning”. I wondered how long it would be until you made that joke. We had to start somewhere.

So Donkey Konga it is; another game with its own very special controller, and one that took us a while to get. Thankfully it was not too expensive for us to purchase; especially when compared with other games on this list. So expensive that there is a doubt that we’ll ever even get to play it. Steel Battalion, where are you with the proper controller? Any help there is appreciated. Luckily these Donkey Konga bongos will be used again at a later date making it eight quid well spent… unlike the £80 we’re likely to have to shell out to buy the (kick-ass) cockpit controller for Steel Battalion.

An interesting thing to note is how this could be the first music game on the list equipped with a specialist controller meaning it outdates the Hero music franchise. Let’s hope the drums survive to that point, considering our enthusiastic playing. It could be that this is the first game, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Sure, it’s quite simple, but the challenge isn’t in using twenty different buttons, it’s in trying to keep up with the song.

In order to play along you bang the drums together, on their own or clap. On a personal note I found it difficult to transition between a clap and the banging of both bongos. It helped when later I discovered that you can slap the right side of the controller and it is registered as a slap. The slap instead of the clap also allows for greater playing stamina since it prevents your hands from getting red raw from clapping. It’s a bit of an awkward mechanic that didn’t fit in as well, although I can see why they’d want it as an extra option. On its own is not too bad, but if you’re not careful your hand starts hurting. You need to hold back. But it’s the only annoying transition. The bongos themselves work well, simple but fun.

They also look fantastic. The cartoon-like wood finish does make like something direct from the game… unlike the awkward chainsaw controller released alongside Resident Evil 4 which was annoying as hell.  Yeah, they fit in the game. The sole issue here is that they feel flimsy. You’re tempted to hit them hard, but then they immediately feel like they’re about to break. The fact that the still work perfectly despite obviously being second-hand shows just how sturdy they are. Also there is no real need to bang then too hard during gameplay as it makes it far harder to transition. Absolutely, despite expecting worse, it seems like we’ll be bongoing for quite a bit longer. And once we are through they will be lovingly stored next to the controllers we have purchased from DJ and Band Hero. The latter of which I hope I will we will get to use for this project soon.

Now, a music game stands or falls with the music they put in, and being the first of its kind (seemingly), this should set a benchmark. And if we can say one thing, it’s that there is a lot of variation in the songs. Yes, but they don’t always work. Take That’s ‘Back For Good’ really had no place in a bongo-based music game. No. On the other hand, Blink 182 is the last band I’d expect to see here, yet ‘All The Small Things’ worked well. It might have helped, though, that I know the song well, giving me a personal best record. Other songs worked surprisingly well too. ‘Lady Marmalade’, ’99 Red Balloons’, ‘Impression That I Get’ and a batch of Nintendo theme songs all were fun to play with. Something to note is that the song list varied depended on the region it was released in. In fact, those of us in the PAL region actually received the fewest number of songs from all three regions. It’s a good enough list anyway, although it’s a shame.

Another thing to note here are the graphics. Obviously, a music game doesn’t need them as much, and they’re not outstanding, but one thing they are is fun. Birds, monkeys and rhinos dance around at the bottom of the screen and balloons fly up if you do well. I thought that happy little chappy was an elephant. Apologies. They’re both grey. He’s still dancing! Very cute too! Who wouldn’t dance to ‘Louie Louie’ played on the bongos? Nobody, that’s who!

In other words, we’ll play our bongos again. Just not in the morning. I prefer to lie in a bit longer.

Final Thoughts

At some point we will be using these bongos to play Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. It will be very interesting to see how this specialist controller works on a conventional platform game compared to a rhythm based one.

  1. […] Donkey Konga gave the world a Donkey Kong-themed music game using a custom bongo controller. Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat took those same controllers, but turned it into a platformer. An actual platformer, not a rhythm game skinned to show a platformers. […]