Review by Eternal_Helix

"A fresh injection of new songs and game-modes makes this an enjoyable sequal to a great game"

Donkey Konga 2 is the second in Nintendo's rhythm-action series. Like in the original Donkey Konga, the game is designed to be played with a special DK Bongo controller, which is basically a pair of bongo drums with a sound sensor. This allows the player to beat along to songs, hitting the corresponding bongo, or clapping, when prompted on-screen.

So what's new in DK2? Well, frankly, not a lot: it's really more like an expansion pack to the original, rather than a full-blown sequel. Now, don't get me wrong, this is no bad thing. The original was fun and entertaining to play, and only had a few annoyances which grated. The good news is that most of these annoyances have now been cleared up.

The presentation, on the whole, is better. One of the main problems with the original was that the graphics were pretty shoddy: backgrounds were poorly drawn and uninteresting, and the on-screen characters that decorated the playing area had about 5 frames of animation each. Now, the backgrounds are much better, with proper 3D rendering and camera movement. The main playing screen has been de-cluttered, and is more pleasant to look at.

Namco haven't changed the main gameplay style, and the main single-player Street Performance mode is identical to the original. Once again this is no bad thing, as the original formula worked well. The main difference, of course, is the 32 new songs which you can play along to. It's worth mentioning at this point that I'm playing the European version of the game, which does have some differences in song choice to the American version. The EU version has more Latin, Rock and Game Soundtracks, while the US has more Hip-Hop and Dance tracks.

Looking at the EU version of both games, the tracks in DK2 are better overall than in DK. There are more recent pop tracks, and less old numbers. In both the EU and US versions, you can expect to see the likes of REM and Good Charlotte, and Pink, with the EU version also sporting the likes of Elton John and Britney Spears. In my opinion, the EU track listing is better than the US one, especially if, like me, you dislike Hip-Hop and prefer Rock tracks.

As far as other game modes go, there have been some changes and additions, which are all for the better. The tedious Street Performance Jam mode, where you had to memorise all the individual drum notes for each song, has been removed. In its place is Beat-Mix mode, which randomly changes the drum beats for each song every time you play. This isn't quite as good as it sounds – the rhythms of each song remain the same, only the notes (left, right, both or clap) change – but it's still a good addition, and adds a bit of longevity once you've mastered all the songs.

Also added is the rather bizarre Freestyle Mode, where you are presented with just a background, along with a song to drum away to. There are no note prompts whatsoever, so you can bongo your own rhythms to the tunes. It's fun for a couple of minutes, but is just rather strange on the whole, as large pictures of Diddy Kong et al appear each time you hit a note.

Two new mini-games are added, which are, in my opinion, much better than the ones in the original. Barrel Race challenges you to hit a combination of notes as fast as you can before your opponent does, while the difficult Rhythm Keeper asks you to repeat a set rhythm a number of times, with no cues or background music to help you. Both games seem more suited to the bongos than the juggling and climbing games of the previous instalment of the series.

And that's pretty much it. Here are my final ratings of the game:

GRAPHICS – N/A
I'm not rating graphics quality, because it doesn't matter in this game. It's worth noting that the graphics have improved since the original, but it's actually irrelevant.

SOUND – 7
The new tracks are a little hit-and-miss, but are a definite improvement over the original's selection.

GAMEPLAY – 8
Playing the bongos is as fun as it was before! The core concept still works, and is very entertaining to play.

FUN FACTOR– 9
Really, games don't get much more enjoyable than this! It's extremely fun to play.

MULTIPLAYER – 8
There's really nothing like getting round a few friends and playing a quartet accompaniment to Losing My Religion.

LASTABILITY – 8
With three different arrangements for each of the 32 tracks, along with unlockable bongo sound-sets, this'll keep you going for ages!

+ Improved graphics and menus
+ Better selection of songs
+ Better minigames
+ An absolute blast playing with friends

- No new ideas explored
- Some un-enjoyable songs which are unsuited to bongo-playing

FINAL SCORE – 8/10


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/26/05


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