Review by clarkisdark
"Abuse your hands"
Rhythm games generate sequels faster than anything else. When the basis is already built, all the developers have to do is change the songs, and another hit is on the way. I shouldn't even have to remind you how many DDR mixes there are. While Donkey Konga certainly isn't anything like DDR, the game remains fun enough to make a sequel more than welcome. Time to dust off those bongos.
Donkey Konga 2 looks cheap, but it at least looks better than the first game. The washed-out coating has been cleaned up, and the backgrounds are more active and detailed. The biggest improvement, however, is the eradication of those gross, disturbing half-banana-half-bird creatures. Thank you! Watching Donkey and Diddy Kong play the bongos, however, continues to bother me. They jiggle around like a little kid who just ate a pound of Skittles, then jerk into place to hit the drums whenever you do. It's a poor visual touch.
Nintendo has done the unthinkable here. They've eliminated video game music from Donkey Konga! The only relevant song is the Donkey Konga theme, but I don't consider that a contender. It seems really odd for a company that loves to embrace their past to leave out nostalgic tunes in a rhythm game practically designed for it. While the Super Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda themes weren't even my favorite songs from the first compilation, their inclusion made Donkey Konga a better package. Donkey Konga 2 is all rock/pop with the occasional classical remix. The package seems aimed at an older audience, hence the T-rating, but at the same time, the presentation is vibrant and cute. It doesn't fit.
If you're new to Donkey Konga, here's a quick update: as a song plays, note cues scroll across the screen. The objective is to hit these as accurately as possible. The premise hasn't changed, again requiring you to earn coins in order to unlock other songs, sound kits, and mini-games. The only noticeable difference as far as gameplay is concerned is a free session mode where you can play the bongos all you want. Uh... yeah... that's great. Despite my annoyance with the music selection, the beats in Donkey Konga 2 seem to fit better. Consequently, they're a touch more fun, too. That alone makes this sequel a better installment.
Writing this review is starting to feel redundant. Anyone interested in Donkey Konga 2 has most likely already played Donkey Konga 1. The bongos should be prior knowledge. They're sturdy and a lot of fun to play with, and the microphone is impressive in its sensitivity. In fact, as an amusing alternative, try yelling "clap!" instead of actually clapping. It's hysterical.
Since this is a sequel, I was hoping the difficulty would build off the last one, making the assumption those who have mastered Donkey Konga 1 are looking for a greater challenge. I was wrong. It's about the same. If you've already maxed out the first, you can jump right into Gorilla mode. A sense of overbearing franticness does exist, especially if you're somewhat out of practice, but I wanted more, dang it! This game works best when your arms are starting to ache from the merciless continuation of slapping and clapping. It's unfortunate Donkey Konga shies away from that.
With two Donkey Kongas and Donkey Kong Jungle Beat on the market, there's a good chance you may wind up with two bongos. This isn't a bad thing. When two players have their own drum set, Donkey Konga is much more fun for everybody. The songs are set up as duets, so when you play with a second player, all the sounds come together into one song. It's neat, but it also creates problems by splitting the songs up so they aren't as hard as when played solo. Donkey Konga 1 did this, too, and it's kind of annoying. While playing a duet should be a friendly way to spend some time together, I would still like to see some hard-as-nails competition every once in a while.
There is still a taste of competition in the mini-games. This time, the mini-games are a little more enjoyable. The best is Barrel Race. Beats fall down in columns, and you have to hit the beats correctly before the next set falls. If you mess up, you're stalled for a few seconds. Naturally, it's a race to finish first, and it gets quite frantic. The other game plays a short melody, then calls on players to repeat it from memory. While it's amusing, the melody doesn't change during that round, so it quickly becomes monotonous and boring. Yet it's better than Donkey Konga 1's selection.
If you already own and like the first Donkey Konga, then reading this review has been a waste of your time. You need to buy the sequel. Go buy it. Right now. The presentation is better, the beats make more sense, and the mini-games are actually kind of fun. Donkey Konga still doesn't fix the problem with multiplayer songs being too easy, though. This time around, it's much more glaring. Let's hope Donkey Konga 3 finally gets it right, assuming that game comes to the US. If not, Donkey Konga 2 should still be enough to satisfy your bongo-pounding sweet tooth.
+ More bongo fun
+ Better beats
+ Better mini-games
-- Duets are too easy
-- No video game music
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/18/05
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