Those crazy bongo-beating simians are back for a third round. Find out what they're up to in our full import review of Donkey Konga 3!
For those of you who still haven't gotten your hands on a Donkey Konga game (how does it feel living under a rock?), the premise is simple. Use Nintendo's unique bongo drums to beat along to some of your favorite (or not so favorite) songs. The barrels (which act as your beats) scroll along the middle of the screen. Your job is to hit the correct area on the bongos when the corresponding barrel passes through the circle on the left side of the screen. Use your left hand for yellow barrels, right hand for red barrels, and both hands for pink barrels. The white barrel requires you to clap. Those are the basic fundamentals of Donkey Konga, and the third installment doesn't stray too far from them.
As with all Japanese games, there is a varying degree of difficulty when playing, depending on how much the game relies on text. Being a music game, Donkey Konga is (thankfully) relatively free of any important text. The hardest part of the game is navigating the menus. Fortunately, most menus have their own specific colors, or can otherwise be easily accessed by remembering their locations in relation to neighboring menus. An example would be to remember that the easiest difficulty setting in Story Mode is to the right of the menu that has the word “Shuffle” in it. Of course, this would all be easier if you could read Japanese, but since I can’t, the previous method of navigating through the game was the one I used. Now that I've gotten all that out of the way, let's move on to what makes this game tick.
The Donkey Konga 2-style menu wheel is back again, which is a good thing. It makes finding the menu/song you want easy. The “Story Mode” in Donkey Konga 3 remains relatively unchanged. Pick the number of players (one or two), select the difficulty (Easy/Hard/Expert), and then find a song that looks fun. Obviously, this is a bit harder said than done, since all titles are in Japanese. The only exception to this rule is "Bingo". Yep, it’s the same "Bingo" from the US version of the original Konga, and it even has the exact same beats as before. There are also some classic songs ("The William Tell Overture" and "The Entertainer", to name a couple) which everyone will be able to recognize and enjoy immediately. All the other songs are either hit or miss. You'll have to employ the trial-and-error method to figure out which songs are fun and which aren't.
Luckily, this method is not without its rewards. As with the previous Konga games, you can take all the coins earned from the various modes and put them toward a variety of things. Things such as new Expert songs and drum sounds, or an entry in the Trial mode, which I’ll be explaining shortly. Also, for every few medals gained in the Story Mode, you can unlock Famicom (NES) songs, which you can then play by accessing a menu on the main screen that has the colors of a Famicom controller (red and gold). You can also unlock a new mode called Trials. This mode replaces the mini-games from Donkey Konga 2, but it still acts as the only way to gain badges for high scores. Pay a set amount (100, 200, or 300 coins) to play a random trial determined at the start of the game. It looks like you’re just playing a regular song in Story Mode, but this is where the fun comes in. Depending on what you got before you started, you’ll have to perform a certain action in order to win. For instance, there’s a trial where you have to reach either 100, 200, or 300 claps if you want to win two chances at playing the matching game to gain new badges. Another trial involves reaching a certain amount of points before the end of the song. Hitting a skull on any of the trials will automatically end the game.
Many of the other modes that you know
and love are back. Challenge has the same basic concept. Choose a set of six, twelve, or a full course of songs and play until you either complete the set or you lose. Multiplayer is much the same in as the previous games. You can play Story Mode with either the computer or a friend to collect coins and earn medals, which will in turn unlock the same items that you could unlock by yourself. The Battle Mode is for two players only, but instead of working together, you’ll be trying to beat each other. Concert mode makes a return as well. In the one player (Share) mode you’ll be sharing a set of bongos, with one person hitting them while the other person handles all the clapping. With the 1-4 player option, you’ll each have your own set of beats to follow. Ad Lib mode (called Freestyle in DK2) also makes a return, which is surprising because I’m not sure if anybody really uses it.
Another new mode (if you could call it that) is called Rhythm Banana. This mode contains two story sequences, along with a new mini-game called the Banana Tree. This tree doesn’t need seeds to grow, oh no. That’s not what it wants at all; instead it wants your combos. That’s right, rack up lots of combos in Story Mode and then feed them to this tree. The tree will sprout to life with bunches of bananas, and for a fee, you’ll be able to play a mini-game that involves Diddy and Dixie using their bongos to blast Donkey out of a barrel. Beat both sides of the bongos to charge up the power of the cannon, then clap to fire. The only problem is that if the power of one side is off-balance, then you’ll miss the tree in that direction. Hit the tree and you’ll be rewarded with bananas. Sadly, I’m still not quite sure if the bananas have any use.
Donkey Konga 3 contains songs from most of the recognizable genres, but the J-Pop section has, by far, the most songs in the game. That genre leads the way with fifteen songs, although many of them double as anime openings/endings. Anime comes in second with a whopping six total songs. The game section is next with five songs, while the variety genre has three. The classical, children’s, and TV commercial sections all share fifth place with two songs apiece. Bringing up the rear are jazz and Latin, with a pitiful one song each. There is no notable difference in the quality of sound or sound effects in this game compared to the previous Donkey Konga games. They are both of excellent quality.
Donkey Konga 3 will be very familiar to you if you’re a veteran to the series. It uses the same basic formula, and it surprisingly still works well. Most of the songs are enjoyable, and even the ones that aren’t find some use in the quest to obtain all the unlockable items. If you like Donkey Konga but don’t care for the Japanese language, you’re better off waiting for a US version to come out. Otherwise, this is a title still worth getting if you have the money. You can import it from our partners at Lik-Sang.