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Are you a seasoned Jungle Beater? Then New Play Control Jungle Beat is like having your dog’s legs amputated: it no longer runs and bounds as it should, but you’re still left with a recognizable lump of pooch to love and pat. Jungle Beat was designed to show off the GameCube bongo peripheral, a simple input respected with intelligent, simple design; design that was never intended to be sprinted through with an analog stick.
So sprint through with an analog stick you shall. At best, this revamped Beat plays like a forgiving Mario: gaps and wall jumps that were carefully passed with a bongo are rinsed by a button tap. At worst it renders certain mechanics pointless – intensively bashing the right bongo to escape an avalanche is now as easy as holding the analog stick. And the ferocious drum roll to pick up speed during the ox-riding ski jump? Noticeably absent. Once sturdy set pieces are rendered depressingly hollow.
So it isn’t that game we knew and loved, but is it a game you can know and love? Although they may now be bongo-free, the ideas still drip Nintendo magic. Then again, what do you expect from EAD Tokyo, the magic factory behind Mario Galaxy? Beat is perhaps more interesting now as a Galaxy prototype. Not only are there clear audio and visual echoes (down to the bee sound effects), but Beat’s gleeful turnover of ideas reeks of Galaxy’s scattershot fun-bursts.
Jelly trampolines! Firefly platforms! Chicken punching! Ox riding! Parachuting! Bubbly swimming! Pineapple throwing! Nintendo should lend a copy of this to ExciteBot devs Monster to show them how ‘joyously madcap’ actually works. And while initially designed to be dashed through in a hyper sugary rush, it survives repeat play with a sharp combo system (limper with analog control, but still decent) and banana-snatching for end-of-level medals. You see, Klonoa, games needn’t stop at four hours.
It’s not quite the game you remember, but who pays for what they clearly remember? New is good. Purists can trawl through the eBay mire for a proper copy, but this’ll do for newbies. Not bongo- fun, but still fun. You can scratch that opening remark. If no-legged dogs were as naturally good as this, dogs wouldn’t come with legs.
June 3, 2009