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Donkey Konga 2 (GCN)
Publisher:  Nintendo Developer:  Namco
Genre:  Music Release Date:  05/09/2005
ESRB:  Teen More Info on this Game
By Nich Maragos | May 10, 2005
The second volume of Konga has arrived with a few gameplay tweaks and a fairly lame music selection.
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Pros Cons
Better, if not good, graphics; hitting bongos is fun. The music isn't the best.

With the first Donkey Konga being a success both in Japan and in the U.S., work naturally began on a second volume. In Japan, the game carried the subtitle Hit Song Parade, meaning it focused more on popular mainstream music rather than the classical and game tunes found in the original. Despite the lack of a subtitle in the American version, the same philosophy seems to have applied to the music selection here, but not nearly as well.

What we have here is a game where you thump bongo drums while cartoon monkeys and animals cavort around the screen … except you're doing it to the sounds of Staind or Trapt. Or a host of other nu-metal and current radio smashes, some of which were so annoying that I couldn't even finish the song. Perhaps I'm guilty of being too much of an indie music snob, but on the other hand, it isn't any less ridiculous when you're playing along to R.E.M.'s good-but-mopey "Losing My Religion." But hey, if you're all into the "current hot band," then go nuts.

Donkey Konga 2 is now the second game to fall victim to what we'll call, for want of a better term, the "Warrior Within" syndrome. In both cases, you had a model that was basically good, with a lighthearted tone that allowed for a couple more serious moments along the way. The first Donkey Konga had "B-I-N-G-O," but it also had "On the Road Again" and "We Will Rock You." But just like Warrior Within, the developers so overcompensated for the tone of the first game that the heavy-handed, metal-tinged vibe of the second completely obscured its gameplay innovations.

Unlike Warrior Within, Donkey Konga 2 doesn't have any gameplay innovations to obscure. It's essentially a song-pack with different music. The number of mini-games has even decreased from the first game -- you got three there, and two here. There aren't any really new modes; "Concert" mode replaces "Jam Session," but they're functionally the same thing.

The one gameplay improvement that DK2 has over the first is the addition of a randomizer for when you've played the songs so many times that you've memorized all the beats. It's a nice feature that adds pretty significant replay value, especially for hardcore players.

Another undeniable improvement is the level of graphical polish DK2 has over the original. The background animation had some effort put into it this time around, and pans around fully rendered environments, which is much better than the Flash-level animations found in the first game. The style is still the same old Rareware-era DK and friends that'll likely be the model for the character for the rest of eternity, but you can't win 'em all. And if you can live with the game's song selections, you'll have plenty of fun slappin' those skins.

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