Donkey Konga


Source // Moby Games

While I can't see the point in playing games like Amplitude, I can see the point in playing games like Donkey Konga, the rhythm game where you slap a giant plastic bongo in time with the music. Like Samba de Amigo and it's plastic maracas, doing something vaguely similar to the characters on screen seems to add some sense of achievement to what is, essentially, an utterly pointless task.

That could open up a can of worms. Let's rephrase: Playing some plastic bongos makes you feel like you're sitting there on the beach, with Donkey Kong and pals, jamming to the beat of the music for no other reason than to have some fun.

Sure, there are high scores to go after, but that's not the point, is it? The point is to have a good time. Will we have a good time?

Source // Nintendo Life


Usually, if I open with 'Frustrations', it's because I'm not able to play something. Not here. I actually managed to pick up some second hand DK Bongos from a charity shop, complete with GameCube disc and instruction manual. I can actually experience what Donkey Konga has to offer and can drag P2 in so that we can pretend we're at a groovy party, where multiplayer GameCubing with a set of Bongos is the highlight of the evening.

So, let us begin...

Source // Nintendo Life

Donkey Konga has a bunch of modes, both competitive and co-operative, aimed at getting players to bop along with the beat. Left and right bongo inputs are self-explanatory, and there is even a sound sensor for clapping, which is thankfully sensitive enough to not require you to slap the hell out of your hands.

If playing with a controller, the sticks get waggled for the bongo inputs, and the shoulder buttons serve as the clap sensor. That's all there is to it - hit things to the beat.

Source // Moby Games

Why is it so Goddamn awful then? I tried the most straightforward songs on the easiest difficulty setting and was met with so many 'Bad' timings that I may have to take back what I said about the generous sensitivity of the sound sensor.

Donkey Konga is bloody brutal. Chaining together a string of successful inputs was fluke, not skill, as P2 and I switched between input devices, modes and songs. I think we managed to clear one song in the co-operative challenge mode, before more or less immediately failing the next, and thus failing the challenge.

Speaking of songs, good Lord, I hope you don't have any favourites in a list that includes Jamiroquai, Queen, Chumbawamba, Blink-182, Nena, The Jackson 5 and more (in our European version, at least) because I don't think any of them are sung by the original artists. Maybe they just sounded weird with all the slapping and swearing at the bongos making a mess of the coffee table.

Source // Moby Games

This is what you're greeted with if you're good. If you move those 217 'Great' inputs over to the 'Bad' column, you'll get a more accurate depiction of what to expect from the bongos. I simply cannot imagine them being useful to anybody. If that screenshot came from a bongo-player, they are a freak.

Final Word

It's no surprise then that, despite wanting to play some nice tracks, both P2 and I hated Donkey Konga. She went so far as to say "It looks fun, but it's shit", and I have to agree. If the aim was to have fun, banging along to a song and being rewarded with failure isn't going to last long.

We wanted to bongo along to popular songs. We wanted to slap a silly-looking controller to see what it did. We were not expecting everything we did to result in failure, no matter how well we timed the inputs or not.

Donkey Konga is another silly gimmicky music game that attracts the attention of all kinds of people for five minutes, before everyone goes off and finds something far better to do, like washing the dishes or something.

Play it if you must. It was good to finally get the bongos out to see what they were capable of, but they've already been put back, likely never to be seen again.

Fun Facts

The New York Times review includes consumer advice in the form of "try clapping along with every song on the radio for half an hour and see how you feel at the end."

Donkey Konga, developed by Namco, first released in 2003.
Version played: GameCube, 2004.