Dateline : 20th November 2011


Simple things appeal to simple minds, and they don’t get much simpler than RetroBear’s. Give him some bongo shaped controllers and a sing-a-long soundtrack and you have the makings of a decent game. Throw in Nintendo’s number one ape and you get Donkey Konga on the Gamecube……


Bongos + Gamecube + TV = Fun for all the family....for a limited time anyway

Its always fun to see a game that tries to be something a little different. An original concept can do wonders for sales especially if the idea catches on quickly. Take the Guitar Hero franchise, which moved fairly rapidly from a single guitar rhythm game and developed into a game where everyone could pick an instrument – providing it was either a guitar or drums – and even sing lead vocals The Singstar series of games capitalised on our love for karaoke and Samba Di Amigo catered for anyone feeling a bit Mexican and delighted in shaking their maracas at anyone stupid enough to look.


Nintendo though decided to be markedly different. What instrument could be more simple to play than a set of bongos ? Everyone can sit there and thwack bongos to their hearts content. Nothing could be more fitting than having a monkey thrash them in time to the music for the purpose of collecting bananas and coins (what is it with coin collecting and games designers ??). Thus Donkey Konga was born and thumped its way onto the Nintendo Gamecube.


Slap the skins in time to the Mario Bros theme tune. Can you get more Nintendo than that ?


There is nothing particularly special about Donkey Konga. Its the simple keep-in-time-with-the-music rhythm game played against some colourful backdrops and a rather varied soundtrack, with tunes ranging from some of Nintendo’s best in game music including the themes to Zelda and Super Mario Brothers, through to more recognised songs such as Don’t Stop Me Now, You Can’t Hurry Love and rather hilariously for game with a giant ape at the heart of it, Wild Thing.


There are even a few mini-games thrown in for good measure, giving you a full range of thrills to experience. Sadly everything is rather on the easy side and those weaned on the more difficult Guitar Hero/RockBand series won’t find anything too testing here. The bongo peripheral is fabulous, making realistic sounds so the neighbours will think you are hammering out proper bongo beats at 3am. Get a couple of sets of these for an incredibly funny two player mode and all in all you have a pretty satisfying package.


Bongos and monkeys - thats all you can ask for.


Nintendo got good mileage from this series as a sequel was released. They even added a third game but this was released in Japan only. Sadly bongo bashing didn’t catch on as much as would hoped and the series was given up on. It’s a shame the bongos can’t be used for anything else really as they are quite a cool piece of kit. I picked up a spare pair last year much to the annoyance of Mrs Bear last year and when asked why I had brought them I simply responded “emergency bongos”. Because you can never have enough of them.


If you like rhythm games this is for you. If not steer well clear.


VERDICT : Thumpingly good fun for a short period but this isn’t one you’ll keep coming back to. It has great novelty value but like all novelties it wears thin quicker than you’d like.


NOTES : Shopping on Amazon will be bag you a copy for just 89p, whilst over on eBay pay just 75p for a complete version. Bongos are cheap enough to find from around £2.00.


UP NEXT : Throw another shrimp on the barbie – it’s Taz-Mania on the Mega Drive