Action Release Date:
September 19, 2005Written By:
After being in a few rhythm based games such as Donkey Kong Jungle beat and Donkey Konga, Donkey Kong finally returns to the adventure genre. This ape will swing and climb anything he can get his hands on in his latest adventure, DK: King of Swing.
When it was announced that a new Donkey Kong adventure was on the horizon, some people were automatically reminded of the Donkey Kong Country series that was presented on the Super Nintendo. The Donkey Kong Country series is loved by many gamers and some believe that no other game can recapture that type of gameplay. Well, that statement may still hold true since King of Swing is an adventure that we’ve never faced before. Regardless of the many references to the Donkey Kong Country series, King of Swing proves to be more than an ordinary adventure with its rare game design and control scheme.
No, Donkey Kong’s bananas have not been stolen and no, none of his Kong pals have been kidnapped. Like its design, the story of King of Swing is also fresh. While fresh doesn’t necessarily mean exciting, it’s still a story that hasn’t been experienced in a Donkey Kong game. At least we aren’t pounding on bongos in this latest adventure.
Although, one thing the story does have in common with past Donkey Kong titles is the return of King K. Rool. King K. Rool is the leader of the Kremlings and he again brought more trouble into the jungle. There’s a Jungle Jam festival and it consists of several tournaments. From these tournaments, the winners receive medals and the Kong with the most medals is given the title of the true hero of the jungle. In order to prepare for the Jungle Jam festival, Donkey Kong and Cranky discuss and agree that they need to guard these medals very cautiously. After all, without these medals, the Jungle Jam festival cannot take place! However, during the time where Donkey Kong and Cranky Kong hide the medals… King K. Rool comes flying down in some sort of an airborne carriage.
Not only does King K. Rool steal all the medals, he also claims that since he has all the medals, perhaps he should be the true jungle hero. Without further adieu, Cranky Kong then orders Donkey Kong to get these medals back from K. Rool so the Jungle Jam festival can still take place!
Long live the days of reading game manuals to figure out what one has to do to learn the controls of the game. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Thanks to the in-game tutorial, it won’t take long to master the few moves Donkey Kong can perform. Who better to give Donkey Kong a tutorial than Cranky Kong himself? Cranky Kong will whip you right into shape in no time. Although, in King of Swing, he seems to be a little less cranky than he was in previous games.
What's this? Cranky Kong isn't so cranky after all.
In all honesty though, since controlling Donkey Kong only requires the use of the L and R buttons for the most part, the controls are in no way difficult to learn. Although, using them might be a different story. Dodging enemies and getting from one point to another with only using the L and R buttons might feel a little awkward and hard to adjust to, initially. No worries though, players will be swinging, climbing and bouncing around in no time.
When it comes time to actually play the game, players will be greeted with a map screen. This map screen will look a little familiar if you’ve played the Donkey Kong Country series before. Each map represents a world and each world contains of a certain number of levels. At the beginning of the game, you are only able to explore the first world. Each world is then finished by fighting a boss, which will open up a new world to explore once defeated. As players progress through more worlds, they can backtrack to a previous world at any time.
By pressing left or right, you can explore different areas on the map.
Throughout the levels of King of Swing, Donkey Kong will have to avoid various obstacles and collect a number of things. Obviously, you have to collect the medals that were stolen from King K. Rool. There are three kinds of medals and those are bronze, silver and gold. There’s one medal hidden in every level. Medals aren’t the only thing Donkey Kong can collect though! Donkey Kong can also collect bananas and crystal coconuts. Crystal coconuts are hidden very well in levels and can be tough to find. Bananas come in singles or in bunches, so Donkey Kong can collect up to ten bananas at once. Jackpot!
To make avoiding obstacles much easier, Donkey Kong has a few abilities other than just swinging and climbing. He has the ability to do a charged attack which will kill enemies and break crates; the ability to throw rocks at obstacles in his way; and the ability to become invincible for a brief period of time. The invincibility move is referred to as “going bananas” but it comes with a cost.” It takes twenty bananas to use and the invincibility only lasts ten seconds. It still comes in handy when surrounded by a swarm of enemies, though. For the cost of ten bananas, Donkey Kong can also refill his energy. Donkey Kong initially has three hearts that are shown on the bottom of the screen. Every time Donkey Kong gets hit, one of these hearts disappear.
Even though most of the time Donkey Kong is controlled by only the L and R buttons, there are a few exceptions. For example, “going bananas” is performed by pressing the A button. Also, the D-Pad can be used to move left or right. Using the D-Pad is more of a preference though, since the L and R buttons can also be used for the same types of movement. Other moves, such as jumping and charging have to be performed with the L and R buttons though. To jump, Donkey Kong must be standing on the ground. Then press and release the L and R buttons simultaneously to make Donkey Kong jump straight up. Performing a charge attack is very similar to jumping; just hold down the L and R buttons and when Donkey Kong begins to flash, release the buttons. Donkey Kong will then roll for a couple seconds and that is his charge attack.
Ready... set... charge!
Other basic moves, such as jumping from a peg only consist of releasing the L or R button while swinging around on a peg. Donkey Kong can also grab onto rocks and bombs to throw them at walls or enemies. To grab one of these items, just use L or R and hold down the button until you want to throw the item. Whenever you release the button, the item will be thrown in the direction Donkey Kong is facing. There are many other objects Donkey Kong can interact with, such as levers, switches and conveyor belts, which will aid in traveling from side of the screen to another during many levels. The same goes with various barrels. Donkey Kong can find numerous types of barrels, some of which only carry bananas while others are bonus barrels that will take you to a bonus stage to collect all kinds of goodies!
King of Swing is definitely a fun game, but can get a little frustrating at times. There are times when there are several enemies and dodging all of them seems impossible. Going bananas definitely helps, but sometimes, it’s just too costly. It might be a better idea to save bananas for re-filling Donkey Kong’s hearts so he can live longer. King of Swing is a very creative game and demonstrates unique concepts never seen in an adventure game before.
If anything reminds players of the Donkey Kong Country series in King of Swing, it’s definitely the graphics. In King of Swing, the graphics are boasting vibrant colors and full of detail. King of Swing definitely has a cartoon-ish style to it but it definitely fits the game. Although, since many of the characters from the Donkey Kong Country series appear, such as Funky Kong, Diddy Kong and Candy Kong, it’s a little odd seeing those characters in a cartoon-ish form. That’s not to say the presentations of the characters are bad, only that they are a little different than what Donkey Kong fans are used to. The characters are also very detailed, making each character’s face expression and features very easy to distinguish. Wrinkly Kong (who made her appearance in Donkey Kong Country 2 and Donkey Kong Country 3) also makes an appearance in the game. Why Wrinkly Kong is great to mention when talking about graphics is because she actually is a ghost. It seems as if Wrinkly Kong passed away and now only her “spirit” remains. With her being in a ghost form, it really shows the transparency sprite capabilities of the Gameboy Advance.
Apes on a peg go round and round...
Since Donkey Kong is constantly swinging on pegs, there are a lot of sprite rotating capabilities being shown off. Whether Donkey Kong is twirling around on a peg or leaping in the air, the motion is fluid. Also, the graphics do a very good job in making the colors fit the background scenery. For example, when in watery areas, there’s a cool blue look to it, mixed with green for various plants and seaweed. When exploring jungle areas, the areas look very grassy green and are surrounded with trees and bushes. There are even desert-like areas where the winds are blowing strong. In these areas, the air seems to be very dusty and even trees in the background sway. The graphics of King of Swing definitely do not disappoint, although the cartoon-ish look of the game may be an opinion that changes from one player to the next. King of Swing still does a great job in showing the Gameboy Advance’s graphics capabilities.
Just like the graphics, the sound heard in King of Swing is very reminiscent of the Donkey Kong Country series. It’s just not nearly as nostalgic as the graphical presentation of the game. There are several songs heard in King of Swing that come from the Donkey Kong Country bonus music. The disappointing thing is that King of Swing takes this familiar bonus music and actually makes it the background music for an entire level. In this fashion, the music tends to get repetitive fairly quick and players may find the music more annoying than nostalgic. In fact, it’s not an inaccurate statement to say that the overall music heard in the game is repetitive. There is just some times in the game where the player may feel the music could be just a little bit better.
As for the sound effects, they do a little better job. Enemies, such as zingers, make a “zzz” sound where nearby giving the player a hint as to what enemy they are going to come across next. When Donkey Kong flies out of a barrel, there’s a coinciding blast to go with it and the same goes with Donkey Kong breaks open a crate. There are also decent chimes that kick in once Donkey Kong collects a medal or a crystal coconut. With that being said, the sound effects are definitely a nice touch to the game and it’s too bad that the music couldn’t be as good.
Must... get... bananas!
Considering that King of Swing offers only twenty-five levels in adventure mode, the length of this game may not be what most players would have hoped. Luckily, there’s more to do after the game once all twenty-five levels are completed. Of course, players have the option of repeating any level they want to find a missing medal or crystal coconut. In order to complete the game completely, players will have to get a total of 200%. This isn’t exactly an easy task and for those who determined enough, this alone will keep players pretty busy.
That’s not the only replay value that King of Swing offers though. King of Swing offers a mode called Single-Player Jungle Jam. In this mode, it’s the player against the computer in all sorts of challenges. These challenges consists of various events such as climbing up a peg board, jumping the farthest, or breaking the most crates in the quickest time limit. These challenges can definitely live up to their name since at times the AI seems impossible to beat. Also, in these challenges, players are free to choose what character they want to control; players aren’t limited to just Donkey Kong. Beef up the challenge by controlling Dixie Kong, Diddy Kong, Funky Kong or even Candy Kong! Each character have their own strengths and weaknesses that may be vital to be the most successful in some of the challenges. For example, Dixie has the highest jumping power. Therefore, when it comes to the jumping challenge, Dixie might be the best character to use.
The race is on!
Coincidentally, along with Single-Player Jungle Jam there’s also a Multiplayer Jungle Jam. This is essentially the same as the Single Jam mode, but instead of going against the computer, players can go head to head with each other. There’s two ways to use Multiplayer Jungle Jam. There’s the multi-pack mode, which requires all players to have a Gameboy Advance and the King of Swing game cartridge. All the challenges are available in this setup, and it’s let the best player win in this mode! The other way to play Multiplayer Jungle Jam is the single-pak game play, which requires all players to have a Gameboy Advance but only one player to have the King of Swing cartridge. Unfortunately, by going this route, only the climbing challenge is available. So, there’s a little less to do when using the single-pak mode.
Overall, King of Swing is a fun experience making Donkey Kong’s return to the adventure genre a welcomed one. If you’re looking for a new Gamboy Advance game to get, King of Swing is an excellent choice. 7.4/
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