When compared to the scale of the levels, Donkey Kong looks tiny on-screen. He is moving through massive environments and facing off against many enemies that are two, three, four, or even more times his size. Even by today’s standards, these environments, enemies, and DK himself all look gorgeous. There’s a style of cel-shading in this game, dubbed “fur-shading”, that allows for some wonderful looking fuzz to appear on all of the hairy creatures in the game. For those who have played Super Mario Galaxy, think of the giant Queen Bee’s fuzzy hair, and then translate that into last generation’s graphics. DK Jungle Beat pushed the powerful GameCube hardware from a visual standpoint, and the fact that it still looks this good today is both a testament to Nintendo’s Tokyo Studio talent, as well as to how lame some developers working on the Wii this generation have been. The sound and music are just as effective as the visuals, with both adding greatly to the experience, keeping the King of the Jungle theme going.
Though the title is about four hours long with 12 levels (initially), DK Jungle Beat is loaded with replayability. The levels are not overly long, meaning you can replay them often in order to improve your score (which is gauged by the number of bananas you collect). You also receive different ranks for completing levels with a certain number of bananas, which will help you unlock the bonus levels as well as give you something to brag about. How do you get more bananas, you ask? There is a combo system in place in DK Jungle Beat that allows you to multiply the number of bananas you pick up. Perform a jump, then make another move mid-air “" say, bouncing off of a wall onto another wall, without touching the ground “" and you will add to your combo and multiply the number of bananas you pick up. Keep doing this to stretch out combos and you can turn a handful of bananas into 10 times that with some practice.
These bananas also serve as your health meter during boss fights “" avoid taking damage to rack up the highest scores you can during these battles. The boss fights are some of the most unique you will see in a platformer, and even though you can figure out the strategy necessary to defeat each boss rather quickly, going about it is enjoyable, and there’s always room for improvement in order to keep your banana total up.
Though the bongos were a fun idea, they both added and detracted from the experience on the original version of the game. Now that they have been replaced by your standard Wii controls the game should be more appealing to those who missed out the first time, and should also give those who have played it before some incentive to throw down with the jungle’s best once again. Add in the 16:9 widescreen, the budget price, and the fact that this title stands tall above your average Wii game visually, and there is no reason not to pick up this game. This is the perfect kind of title for New Play Control!: it’s a classic (overlooked) gem that needed some improvements, and is now presented for those of us who either missed it, avoided it, or weren’t around to get it to begin with.
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