reviews\ Jul 4, 2005 at 8:00 pm

Donkey Konga 2 - GC - Review

Donkey Konga is Nintendo’s own rhythm game that requires players to match the beats on screen by striking a set of bongo drums. Depending on the icon shown, players must strike either the left or right bongo, both simultaneously, or clap into the drum-mounted mic. The first one was a very fun game; being the first drum game to hit stateside it gave gamers a new way to express their musical talent (or lack of one).

Donkey Konga 2 is pretty much identical to its ancestor in terms of quality, difficulty, and included game modes. The game plays exactly the same as Donkey Konga and even uses the same bongo controller, so if you purchased one or more for the first then you can dust them off for more percussive fun. Konga 2 only differs in its added modes and inferior soundtrack.

My first gripe right off the bat is Donkey Konga’s difficulty level. It was a problem of mine in the first as well, and DK 2 didn’t change much. If you read my recent review of In The Groove you saw that I thought its difficulty grew too quickly, almost to an unplayable point. Well, DK 2 is far too easy, and anyone with rhythm or good reflexes will be finishing songs on the hardest difficulty by the end of their first night playing. You may think I’m hard to please in the difficulty section by now, but I’m really not. Donkey Konga’s difficulty progression is great … it just needs one or two more difficulty settings on the harder side. The fact that DK 2 is easy doesn’t make the game any less fun; it just limits the lifespan of the game’s replay value.

Donkey Konga 2 shares many modes with the first. Street Performance is where coins can be earned. One or two players enter, choose the difficulty (monkey, chimp, or gorilla), and then choose the song. As the player(s) successfully hit the notes coins are awarded to one cash pile. When not playing a song, these coins can be spent either in the Shopping Mall on new bongo sound sets or gorilla level songs, or can be spent on the mini games offered in the Music Lab.

The Music Lab is new to Donkey Konga. Now instead of purchasing mini games for unlimited use like in the first Donkey Konga, the mini games are offered from the start but players are charged coins for each play. There are only two games, but both are very fun and can be played with up to four players. One game gives each player vertical stacks of barrels at a time that are labeled with the usual notes. As players play the notes on the bottom of the stack, that barrel is destroyed and the stack drops to the next in line. Once the stack is complete another is placed on screen, and the point is to get through all your barrels before your opponents get through theirs. The other mini game gives players a repeating beat using scrolling barrels like in the normal play mode, but after a few measures the barrels disappear and it’s up to you to keep the rhythm with that same beat.

The Battle mode is still present, allowing rival drummers to duke it out and compete for the most points. After a good competitive match, those rivals can then go into Concert mode and work together to complete a song. Concert mode offers both Share and Quartet options; in Share two players must share the same set of bongos – one claps while the other drums. Quartet places four players into the same song to cooperatively play, and if you have less than four people playing the game will fill in the empty spots with computer-controlled characters.

There is also a Challenge mode now, where players can test their endurance by playing song playlists at once. A certain number of songs are lined up and must be played all in one sitting.

What really hurts the level of enjoyment for Konga 2 is its song list. It’s overrun with pop, R&B, hip-hop, and new age rock. I know that a person’s preference in music will affect this particular aspect of the game, but due to the low difficulty and available music the audience for this game is reduced drastically. I was embarrassed to play this one too loud, and I found myself going to the random option on the song select screen because I couldn’t find a song I wanted to play. After a few hours of play I got used to the music and found a handful of songs I liked, but I still found myself getting bored much quicker than I did with the first because there was nothing left I wanted to play. I mean, come on, only one Nintendo song? And it’s the Donkey Konga 2 theme? Europe gets Mute City and the Mario Bros. 3 theme among a few others!

I think if you enjoyed the first Donkey Konga you’ll still have fun with Konga 2, and if you love the kind of music that it’s full of you’ll have a blast. The point is that the core gameplay is very entertaining, and you’re bound to find at least half a dozen songs you like, so Donkey Konga 2 makes for great, family-friendly fun.   

Review Scoring Details for Donkey Konga 2

Gameplay: 8.9
If only more difficulty options were offered the gameplay could last much longer. If you have any kind of rhythm game experience you will most likely be nailing the gorilla songs soon after you purchase the game. But the fact is that the game is very fun to play, and even if you can complete gorilla songs early on you’ll be having fun doing it.

Graphics: 7.5 
When playing you won’t notice anything but the notes you need to hit, but the menus are very attractive, and this time there are animated backgrounds during the song for spectators to watch.

Sound: 7.3
This is a tough one; I personally think the song list could have been bigger and better, but some gamers are going to disagree. Aside from that, the sound effects in menus and such are enjoyable, and they included all the bongo sounds from the first Konga as well as a bunch of new ones.

Difficulty: Easy
Beginners can start on the monkey difficulty with no problems at all. Within each difficulty you’ll be able to tell how hard each song is by the number of bananas hanging next to it, so there will always be a lot of songs in your range of expertise.

Concept: 9.0 
Since the Donkey Konga games are one of the two offered drum games in America, and they’re the only rhythm game on the GameCube, I think it’s great a sequel was released. Plus bongo owners like me need more excuses to use our drum peripherals!

Multiplayer: 9.2
Multiplayer takes the level of enjoyment up a couple notches, because now you and a friend can be embarrassed together when playing those teen pop songs. But seriously, playing with a friend cooperatively or competitively adds to the entertainment and replay value of this title big time.

Overall: 7.8
It’s a shame that there were so few Nintendo themes and so much of only a few genres. There are still some classical tunes, but they’re all redone in very childish-sounding synthesizer, making them a lot less enjoyable. Konga 2 has great gameplay, but the poor track list killed the desire to play for me and my gaming companions after finishing the handful of songs we did like. Fans of the prominent music genres are bound to dig this title, but even if you don’t like the music chances are you’ll still have fun.  


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