Wii

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New Play Control! Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat

by Neal Ronaghan - May 21, 2009, 7:35 am PDT
Total comments: 13

7

What happens when you take the bongos away from the ape? Bad things.

Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat originally came out for the GameCube in 2005 and was heralded for its great old-school platforming. The hook of the game was that you used a bongo drum peripheral to control the titular ape in what was a wonderful mixture of a platformer and a rhythm game. In the recently released New Play Control! version, the bongo controls are removed in favor of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. This, along with other changes, has transformed what was once a charming genre hybrid into a straight platformer with middling results.

Obviously, the removal of the bongos is the key change made in this new version. Waving the Wii Remote and Nunchuk does not reproduce the tactile feel of the original, and using the Nunchuck's analog stick instead is somewhat tedious. DK also no longer uses the collectable bananas as health; instead, he can take three hits before he dies. In lieu of having to restart the whole level over again after dying, players have lives, and certain levels have checkpoints. These changes turn Jungle Beat into a run-of-the-mill platformer with only small traces of the rhythm game left behind.

These changes are also accentuated by the modifications to the levels. All the levels from the original are present, but they are all adapted to accommodate the new control style. For example, the ease of movement with the analog stick necessitated the insertion of new obstacles, such as cacti and wood. With the new controls and different levels, the New Play Control! version of Jungle Beat plays more like a remixed version of the original GameCube release. A boss rush mode was added, but it is only unlocked after completing everything else in the game.

While the game's controls are functional and it has nice little touches (such as the plethora of sound effects that comes out of the Wii Remote speaker), it has lost a lot in the switch to the new control scheme. It almost completely removes the rhythm aspect, and amplifies Jungle Beat's issues to make it seem like nothing more than a peculiar platformer with some weird design choices. For example, the delays between actions and extremely floaty jumps work with the bongos, but they feel awkward without them. Jungle Beat on Wii excels when everything comes together and the rhythm aspect of it shines through, but it falters whenever the action stops. This happens more often than you'd like.

New Play Control! Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat is still a good game, but it’s lacking a lot of the charm of its original outing without the bongos. For fans of the original, your mileage may vary depending on how attached you were to the bongo peripheral. For rookies, it is still a good platforming experience, but not a great one.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 8 7 7 7 7
Graphics
9

Even though it is four years old, Jungle Beat's graphics still look great. The worlds are still visually interesting and pleasing, and all of the characters and enemies fit very well into the most recent console attempt at a Donkey Kong platformer.

Sound
8

The music doesn't stand out, but it accentuates the game very well. The Wii Remote's speaker is used effectively during gameplay, with Donkey Kong cries and other sound effects.

Control
7

The unique bongo controls are adapted to the Wii Remote and Nunchuk with some trouble; the controls retain the lag between actions that was necessary for the bongos but make little sense for regular controls.

Gameplay
7

With the bongos, the distinctive style and design of this game worked very well. Without them it doesn't hold up as well. This remake tries to correct that with the rearranged levels, but it doesn't make up for the charm that's missing without the cool drum peripheral, and it also messes up the rhythm aspect of the original.

Lastability
7

At its heart, Jungle Beat is a high score game as players strive to collect the most bananas they can in each level. Players can unlock a few hidden kingdoms with high scores, but outside of that there is little incentive to master each level.

Final
7

While still a decent platformer, the removal of the bongo controls from Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat was a bad idea. The game was made for use with the bongos, and this remake proves that this unique platformer was always the most fun with them.

Summary

Pros
  • Graphics are still great
  • Rearranged levels make it feel new again
Cons
  • The removal of the bongos takes away a lot of the charm
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

DasmosMay 21, 2009

I knew it would suck without Bongos. I'm still going to buy it, but only to reassure myself that DK:JB GC is the best version of the best platforming game from the last 15 years.

NinGurl69 *hugglesMay 21, 2009

I'd rather get Let's Fap.

Quote from: NinGurl69

I'd rather get Let's Fap.

Let's Tap = the true successor to DK:JB

For the purposes of the review, I went back and played the GameCube version. After the bittersweet experience I had with the Wii version, I had a blast with the Cube version. That game is still fantastic. This remake kind of sucks.

Ian SaneMay 21, 2009

The fact that the game loses a lot of its charm without the bongos is actually a good testament to the original design.  The integration of the bongos was such that the game can't really be done any other way.  It's kind of like Wii Sports would play like balls if it used a normal controller.

I'm not really a big fan of either of those games but they do represent what Nintendo should strive for with the remote.  A lot of Wii games feel they could easily just use a normal controller as the motion control is limited to waggle.  What they really need to do is make games that integrate motion controls so tightly that the game would absolutely not work at all without them.

SundoulosMay 21, 2009

That begs the question...why did Nintendo actually take away the ability to use the bongos in the first place?  I realize that they had to adjust the timing and controls a bit for the new input style, but how hard would it have been to include the original Gamecube code as an option?  Besides, Nintendo seems to relish selling games with these peripherals anyway, and it probably would have made sense to try to sell the bongos to a new audience.

Ian SaneMay 21, 2009

Quote:

That begs the question...why did Nintendo actually take away the ability to use the bongos in the first place?  I realize that they had to adjust the timing and controls a bit for the new input style, but how hard would it have been to include the original Gamecube code as an option?

You could argue this with all of the NPC titles and Twilight Princess as well.  I think the reason is simple: Nintendo doesn't want the player to be able to make a direct comparision between the Wiimote and the original controls because they're afraid the Wiimote will look inferior.  They made a rather boastful claim that the remote would be a new controller standard and also spent quite a lot of effort dumping on the classic controller standard, ironically a standard they practically invented themselves.  So it's very important that the remote look superior or else they look like jackasses and the remote looks like a gimmicky novelty controller.

The problem is I think the remote IS a gimmicky novelty controller and I think Nintendo is aware of this as well.  So they rig the contest so that the remote wins.  Most of the audience which never played the Cube originals in the first place will only be familiar with the remote controls and will assume by default that those are better.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMay 21, 2009

I bought the game on sunday. While I haven't played much of it I agree that some of the controls feel weird. Maybe its just me, but combos seem harder to pull off in this version. I still gotta play it and truly master it, since it seems that many go into this game expecting to play like the GC version (myself included) and come out confused.

NinGurl69 *hugglesMay 21, 2009

Sounds like it's more difficult to beat off.  Many jungle masters will be concerned about this.

PeachylalaMay 21, 2009

I am possibly the only one who thinks that DK:JB is far more easier and fun to play WITHOUT the bongos.

Yes, the game loses some charm without the bongos, but I personally found the game was awkward to control with the bongos. Combos are much easier to pull of in Beat Off Waggle Ver. then they were in Bongo Beat.

Though I feel the clapping is a bit...awkward. You now have to clap in directions. It's my only complaint. Otherwise, the game is still fun. It's Klonoa's perfect rival for platforming.

NinGurl69 *hugglesMay 21, 2009

"It's Klonoa's perfect rival for platforming."

Whoa.

I never thought of it that way.  Either 3rd excuse makers have horrible timing with regardes to release dates, or Nintendo intentionally positioned Jungle Beat to overshadow 3rd party offerings AGAIN.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMay 21, 2009

Quote from: NinGurl69

"It's Klonoa's perfect rival for platforming."

Whoa.

I never thought of it that way.  Either 3rd excuse makers have horrible timing with regardes to release dates, or Nintendo intentionally positioned Jungle Beat to overshadow 3rd party offerings AGAIN.

And how a waggle port of an old GC game overshadow any game?

Klonoa may be a remake, but it was remade from the ground up exclusively for the Wii, while Jungle Beat was already finished and what they did was add motion controls.

Mop it upMay 23, 2009

Hm, interesting. I was considering picking this up if it turned out well, but these comments about the controls worry me. I might go for the original instead. I kind of like the idea of owning an eccentric accessory, it would be a cool piece of history to have.

KnowsNothingMay 23, 2009

The original is awesome and extremely under rated.  The fact that NWR as a whole appreciates it is basically the only reason I stick around.

This new edition is a travesty.  How can you beat off without the drums?  Garbage.

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New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle Beat Box Art

Genre Action
Developer Nintendo
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: New Play Control! Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat
Release May 04, 2009
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone 10+
jpn: Wii de Asobu Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
Release Dec 11, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
Release Jun 05, 2009
PublisherNintendo
Rating7+
aus: New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
Release Jun 18, 2009
PublisherNintendo
RatingParental Guidance
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