Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bura Bura Donkey/Donkey Kong: King of Swing - A Review

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Have you ever encountered any game that uses the shoulder buttons of a portable console, such as the Nintendo DS or PSP, almost exclusively? Well, I have, with Bura Bura Donkey, otherwise known as Donkey Kong: King of Swing for the GBA.

This game arrived yesterday along with my copy of Digidrive (more on that later), and I must say, Japanese GBA games sure have things going for them when it comes to packaging. The boxes are way nicer compared to their US counterparts. And the price was cheap too, just USD 7.90 (click here for purchase details)

Gameplay wise, it's really different from any other 2D platformer I've seen. While the Mario games most often involve running and jumping left or right on a horizontal plane, Donkey Kong takes things vertical. You start by pressing both shoulder buttons to make the simian jump, and while in the air, press the left or right shoulder buttons to latch on to handholds (floating pegs) that are arranged vertically.

Alternating between handholds (by pressing and releasing the shoulder buttons), you guide the simian to the top of the level while grabbing bananas. Holding down the two shoulder buttons for a while, and then releasing them will cause a "boost jump", handy to jump from one far handhold to another. And as far as I know, the "boost jump" is also the only way to destroy enemies.

On the matter of the collected bananas, they can be used to a. power up your jump (and thus attack) for even longer distances for a short period of time and b. restore the simian's health. So don't forget to grab 'em bananas.

Bura Bura Donkey brings a very unique control scheme that I've never seen before, in a very pretty 2D platforming package. The graphics are crisp and clean, playing it on the GameBoy Micro. My only concern is that the GBM's shoulder buttons do not have a satisfactory amount of "travel" to them.

It feels like I'm touch typing when I play that game and the small size of the console has led to cramps. But I guess this is what anyone will encounter playing anything on the GBM.

All in all, Bura Bura Donkey grabs a tonne of bananas for really unique gameplay, and truly deserves a spot in the handholds of your GBA games library. I've got the Japanese version, and language isn't a problem here while playing the game. Here's a video of the English version, just in case you need a reference:

The game is available at Play-Asia, for a ultra-cheap price of USD 7.90, with free international shipping available for some countries. Click here for details.