DK Jungle Climber Review

Historically, gamers fear and distrust change almost as much as politicians. Think about any game sequel or franchise that has dared to try something new. Remember the hysteria over Metroid going 3D? Or the griping over any Starfox game that wasn't a carbon copy of Starfox 64? Or the meltdown fans would have if the next Final Fantasy game doesn't star an effeminate anti-hero with a clichéd past? All joking aside, gamers hate change. It is this very fear and distaste that makes games that dare to defy convention so refreshing. I would have loved to have been writing reviews when Mario 64 proved the plumber was still the best, regardless of how many dimensions he chose to occupy.

The most recent title in the "it won't be as good as (insert old game here)" parade is Donkey Kong: Jungle Climber for the Nintendo DS. Since the game was announced a few months ago, the Internet has been buzzing with angry semi-old school DK fans wishing for a return to the late, great style of Rare's Donkey Kong Country series. Like most who were around during the NES/SNES days, I loved those games and still do today. But with Nintendo's new goal being changing the way people enjoy games, one would think that fans, new and old, would be receptive to a new spin on a classic character. Sadly, this hasn't been the case and the complaining has continued. The negative buzz, coupled with the surprising level of actual quality Donkey Kong: Jungle Climber brings to the table, makes writing this review and playing the game more of a delight than it probably should be.

So, aside from proving the "change is bad" crowd wrong, what does DK: Jungle Climber bring to the table? The game's greatest strength lies in its simple but rewarding gameplay. Game Boy Advance fans will recognize that this game is a sort-of sequel to DK: King of Swing, one of the last great titles to hit stores before the end of the GBA era. Both games are deceptively simple to play, yet near impossible to explain. Of course, you'll be in control of that great ape Donkey Kong and (sometimes) his pal Diddy Kong, who has retired from the racetrack and taken to playing Boo Boo to DK's Yogi Bear. The L ad R triggers control each of DK's hands and you'll be using them both to swing through 2D levels, collecting stuff and fighting bosses. You'll use the A button to activate DK's only attack and the d-pad for some very limited movement.

Sounds lame, right? Well, I thought so too…until I actually spent a couple of hours with the game. After a quick tutorial, you'll be swinging around the jungle like an old pro. You'll also find yourself unable to put the game down. The Adventure mode is separated by different islands, each with a few stages apiece. In each of these stages, you'll be collecting oil barrels, bananas, tokens and the four letters K-O-N-G. Again, before you knock it, try it. Jungle Climber isn't quite a platform game, nor is it a puzzle game. It is simply a game with a new and exciting formula that works brilliantly.