Oh no - not you again. Barrel Blast is the worst game to carry Nintendo’s logo since the late nineties, and a game with Game & Watch-level gameplay married to sub-GameCube graphics.
The Wii’s best titles are games that couldn’t be done anywhere else. Free from fluff or waste, they’re accessible and graspable by even the densest of non-gamers. Simple, immediate games are exactly what make the Wii great, and the console has saved the world from the assumption that ‘simple’ in gaming terms must also equal ‘rubbish’. Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games is rammed with simple minigames, almost all of them fun, and gaming doesn’t get a lot more basic than Wii Sports, which remains to this day one of the console’s best titles.
Yep, Nintendo have spent the last year or two stripping the unnecessary padding and fluff from their releases, and have apparently amassed such a stockpile of leftover bad ideas, the only thing they could do with the mountainous stack was cram it all into its own game and fire it into the wild in the hope that some poor sap might pick it up. Say hello to Donkey Kong Barrel Blast - a kart racing game where the computer drives for you, where winning is more a matter of luck than skill, and where even the Wii’s controller constantly lets you down.
Originally designed for the GameCube Konga Drum controller, Barrel Blast transplants the left and right drum controls to the Nunchuk and remote - a speedy drum roll will increase your speed, while bashing on one of your imaginary drums is supposed to handle the steering, though ‘steering’ is perhaps a misnomer since you’ll have about as much to do with the actual handling of your rocket-propelled monkey as a backseat driver.
Like a Game & Watch game, you’ll guide the jet-packing simian left and right while the game handles every single curve and elevation change the circuits throw at you; your only responsibility is to avoid mid-track obstacles and scoop up bananas to ramp up your speed. You’ll occasionally want to jump to reach a boost barrel or to collect more of those bloody bananas, and maybe every now and again you’ll find some kind of use for one of the Mario Kart-esque weapons or else get overtaken by the - also very Mario Kart-esque - super catch-up AI. There’s no shaking the CPU opponents, however, no matter how many boosts you hit or how many bananas you’re able to munch, making Barrel Blast as frustrating as it is characterless and tedious.
With Mario Kart Wii on the horizon, there can be no possible reason to drop cash on Barrel Blast. The ‘it’s a game for children’ or ‘it’s a game for parties’ excuse doesn’t fly nearly as well as the rocketeering Kongs and Kremlings. It’s still the worst game to wear the Nintendo badge since the late nineties, and still a Game & Watch game married to sub-GameCube graphics.
Feb 8, 2008