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March 2005

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This chapter is from the book

Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat: Monkeys and Drums—For Joy, For Joy

Genre: Expensive Monkey Bongo Game Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo Platform: GameCube Metacritic Metascore: 81

It’s time for me to ‘fess up. This is one of those critically acclaimed games that I just don’t get. I’m not saying Jungle Beat is a bad game or a waste of time, but it’s going to appeal to a specific kind of gamer and I am not him.

Basically, Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat is a 2D platformer in which you control Kong through a slew of areas in a mad search for bananas. Each area has its own big boss encounter at the end.

That said, the game is really all about rhythm and timing and using the DK Bongos. Whacking the right drum makes Kong run to the right; hit it faster and Kong behaves accordingly. If you hit both drums simultaneously, Kong jumps. Finally, you can "clap" (smack the side of the drum), which is really a catch-all action that makes Kong grab things, swing on vines, and so on.


One of the things I couldn’t get past with Jungle Beat was using the DK Bongos. First off, they’re expensive! If you buy them separately you’re looking at spending around $35. For your money, you can use them with games like Jungle Beat, Donkey Konga, Donkey Konga 2, and Donkey Konga 3. (The latter being dance games.) If you’re really inventive (and totally insane), you can even play action and fighting games with them. Have you ever seen anyone play Soul Calibur with DK Bongos? Oh, it’s a real treat.

Second, it’s just kind of goofy. I know a lot of people love their dance pads, Dreamcast maracas, and so forth, but I’m trying to hang on to my last shred of cool and hipness and slapping the side of $35 plastic bongos is just too much for me. It is one thing to have a lot of friends over to play Dance Dance Revolution, but Jungle Beat is a 2D platformer designed to be played solo, for crying out loud!

This is really a lose/lose situation, regardless of age. If you’re 12 and your dad catches you playing Jungle Beat, whacking on fake bongos that he and mom most likely paid for, it can be very depressing for a parent. If you’re in college, the dancepad party games are actually fantastic ice breakers. Jungle Beat, on the other hand, will usually make people vacate the room and leave you to your toys. Then there’s me. I am a 33-year-old who writes about games for a living. I am not hitting plastic bongos unless I get paid.

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is the first game to get an ESRB rating of E10+. Yep, it’s a trailblazer alright.

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