Originally designed for the non-too-common GameCube Bongo accessory, it made perfect sense for Donkey Kong Jet Race to be ported over to the Wii – a console that is sold with a novelty controller straight out of the packet.
The controls emulate the Bongo accessory for the GameCube. Hold the controllers and waggle both hands to accelerate. Turning? Just waggle one hand furiously. Sound simple? It is. The game even holds your hairy hand, guiding you carefully around any inconvenient bends in the track. You are left to avoid obstacles, jump, and shoot the other wagglers boosting it around the track. If I was strapped to a rocket, I’d feel a lot more confident being given a joystick as opposed to a pair of bongos…
The main problem with the game is that it is no fun. Your character feels completely detached from the track (which I guess they are) and I found my attention wandering in every race before the end of the first lap. Not good. If I was playing with a group of mates and we all had Bongos like the game originally intended, things would have been a lot more interesting. Sadly we are just left shaking our arms in mid-air. No aspect of the game stands out, or even manages to be an enjoyable distraction.
If you are looking for a game for (very young) kids, then Donkey Kong Jet Racing may well be worth picking up. It’s easy to play, 100% kid safe and all that flapping will probably wear the little rascals out. I’m just of the opinion that if you are buying a kids game, you probably only want to spend around thirty dollars as opposed to a hundred unless it’s a game that adults can get some enjoyment out of as well.
Graphically the game would have been very impressive, if it was a launch game for the GameCube. There was footage floating around before the GameCube was launched many moons ago, but sadly it’s not still 2001. That’s not to say the graphics look bad - everything is brightly coloured and looks sharp. Tracks are of course themed and some nice touches have been added into backgrounds. Characters and objects look plain and lack any personality, and it probably doesn’t help either that each character probably has something like ten frames of animation. How that happened when this game was in development for more than just a few months, I’ll never know.
Anyone wanting a stop-gap until the next Mario Kart game would be advised to stay well clear. Don’t get confused with Diddy Kong Racing on the Nintendo 64. If you don’t have a Nintendo 64 lying around somewhere, then a much better use of your money would be to buy one with some extra controllers, Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing. You’ll probably have enough change left over for a bunch of bananas as well – bonus!
It’s a shame that Donkey Kong (aside from the Mario vs Donkey Kong games) has been deprived of any A-grade games since Rare left Nintendo. Despite boring me senseless for the last few hours, the only thing Donkey Kong Jet Race has achieved is me dragging out my Super Nintendo to relive Kong’s glory years.