Here's how the New Play Control! series stacks up so far, according to NZGamer.com - Pikmin: WIN. Pikmin 2: WIN. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat: MEGA ULTRA FACE MELTING WIN. As yet, Nintendo haven't missed a beat (ha!) in porting some of the classics from the GC to the Wii, and the big old monkey is here to ensure they continue the unbroken run.
Even when Jungle Beat came out for the 'Cube all those years ago, Nintendo were completely unique in their thinking when it came to controls. While not compulsory, one could get a set of bongos to bash, which would move DK along on his adventure. The bongos aren't an option in the new version, but that seems to be the game's one and only downside. And hey - the whole point of New Play Control! is that there's a different player's input. The 'chuck and Remote do a more than adequate job here.
There are over 30 levels in Jungle Beat, each a sort of semi-2D scrolling platform landscape. There's no surprise really that you'll traverse jungles, but you might be delighted to find out that DK does some swimming, some flying and a bit of mountain top tundra trekking. Each of the landscapes is as beautiful today as it was when the game debuted, with the real artistic endeavour being in the backgrounds and wonderfully rendered enemies. While the DK Jungle Beat port can't give us graphics that will actually contend with what the 360 or PS3 might be churning out, it's nice to know that even a translation can be easy on the eye.
So if you missed the original here's what's happening: the jungle isn't such a nice place to hang out anymore. Once a calm and peaceful oasis, it's now controlled by a badass group of monkeys who have stolen all the bananas. DK ain't gonna stand for that, and the jungle's inhabitants call on him to fix things up. He needs to collect enough stray bananas through leaping, bashing and clapping that he can beat down each of the bosses holding his homeland to ransom. It's a standard sort of platform premise - silly, of course, but many platformers are, and with the makings of a really great adventure. Old hands will be able to tell you that the GC version of this game was immense fun, and the port has dragged 100% of the goodness with it to the Wii.
The Remote and 'chuck work in tandem. DK moves with the analogue stick, jumps with A, performs stomps and combos with Z and B, and deafening claps with a shake of the Remote. The claps can be used to bust open balloons and bubbles, stun or kill enemies and break barriers as he moves through each of the levels. The bananas are everywhere, and it's up to you and DK to gather as many as possible using a range of techniques, each a combined Nunchuck and Remote effort. Figuring out the mechanics of the game takes a bit of time, but there is a handy little tutorial at the start and ongoing support from your wee monkey friends. At the end of each level, there is also a 'try this' panel, which shows a brief animation of a move DK can perform in order to get ahead. Sometimes these interludes show you where you might have missed a crop of bananas, others how to more effectively kill an enemy.
Each time you put down one of the game's lesser minions, they'll fountain out bananas which you can collect to add to your total. Killing an enemy might be as simple as jumping on it, or letting off one of your big claps. Others take a bit more beating. Wasps require two claps - one to stun, one to send away in a puff of coloured smoke. Piglets you need to jump on, before shaking the Remote to get them to explode. Larger enemies might require you to stun, before climbing up on them and beating them to a pulp with your hairy ape-fists. This control is exerted via a kind of drumroll - use the 'chuck and Remote as though you're beating out a tattoo.
The reason it's important to get all those bananas is the bosses. At the end of each level, you'll need to face a much tougher opponent. Your first challenge is Dread Kong, who you'll try to punch out in a manner not dissimilar to a bout of Wii Sports boxing. The second boss is a gigantic bird cradling an egg - latch on and pound on the egg enough to crack it open to defeat her. They're not going to let you get away without putting in a few licks of their own, and rather than a standard health bar, your vitality is measured by how many bananas you managed to store up. The more bananas you collect, the better off you'll be. On each level, there are far more bananas available than you need to surpass the health level of your opponent, so spending a bit of time exploring can be very beneficial.
That's really all there is to the game: lots of places to go, lots of enemies to see. The bosses are a joy to battle, and you ought to take a great deal away from these enormously fun interactions. The controls have been well thought out, and while it's not always immediately clear how you get around a certain obstacle or baddie you can usually work it out without too much trouble. Of all the games that might have made the leap to the Wii, I am extremely glad Jungle Beat was one of them. This is a must have for Wii owners.