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Graphics - The only thing missing from this title was some old-school mode 7. It really had everything else that a top notch Snes or GB era game would have; Cartoon style characters, a big change from the 3d-rendered Donkey Kong Country, flows well for this game, superb animation which is a prerequisite for all the movement in this game which serves to bind the graphics to the gameplay, and rich color palettes that make everything jump out like the Virtual Boy promised to.
Interface - Having been a Donkey Kong fan since 8-bit palettes were all the rage, an opportunity to play the most recent DK franchise game wasn’t going to get passed up and comparing control styles of any other DK game to this one, I found controls to be the most similar to the recent Gamecube Donkey Kong titles–Donkey Konga 1, it’s sequel, Donkey Konga 2, and also Jungle Beat. Not to say that it was anything like those titles especially not like their bongo setup; more like in the spirit of. I could easily see playing this title with a bongo, using L, R, and L+R as the primary controls, no pun intended, sounds a lot like Left, Right and Clap (or both) with the bongo controller.
Gameplay - This game might sadly fit into a niche like another great Donkey Kong game did, Donkey Konga; incredible game that is unlike anything else on the market. I don’t think it is ahead of it’s time, I think it is right on time, but I feel a lot of gamers will chalk this up as childish, too puzzle, too Nintendo, or any other multitude of excuses. If you like fun, then this is for you. It’s puzzle, sidescrolling, original and best of all comes equipped with menagerie of Donkey Kong themes.
Multiplayer – Containing both a single-pak and multi-pak multiplayer is impressive. However I was unable to find another person to test the content thoroughly, and will not be issuing a score here. The mini-games available to multiplayer are the same available to single player and are fun versus the CPU so I can only imagine they would be equally fun, if not more, versus a real person.
Sound FX - Easily singled out as the weakest link in this game, sound was often repetitive and bland. For example the sound Donkey Kong makes while swinging around sounds way too mousey to be made by a giant gorilla swinging around. Yes, I know it’s not a realistic game, but hearing squeaks in place of a more fitting sound is just insulting to the end user.
Musical Score - Amazingly this game has really good music; not just sounds good but compositionally quite good. No Donkey Kong game would be complete with out up-beat synth strings and random gorilla and monkey sounds and King of Swing easily lives up to that. Returning from earlier Donkey Kong games, especially the Snes titles, are a lot of the catchy tracks.
Intelligence and Difficulty - I wonder if the people next to me on my most recent flight ever got bored of my random obscenity; the result of a sometime agonizingly difficult stage. Thankfully most stages are divided in two or three parts, so you have an almost checkpoint to offer up a glint of sanity. By tapping into my anger, this game also serves to give me a congratulatory feeling after finishing those same difficult stages. Again, I wonder if the people next to me on my most recent flight ever got bored of my random obscenity, coupled up only this time with the word “finally”. That being said, simply put, you will have to play a couple of stages a few times to get it beat and an occasional frustrating “turn the game off” stage will come along.
Overall - If I somehow made it unclear during the review, Donkey Kong: King of Swing is a great new twist on a genre that I have a hard time classifying, using an established and mature backdrop. I’m a little sad this title didn’t find it’s way onto the DS, but that may have actually hurt it more considering the graphics of the game versus other titles on the market and also considering that reinventing the game to take use of touch or the microphone might have altered the game in an undesirable way. Some issues with difficult levels and some repetitive sound effects barely take anything away from this stellar title.
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