Donkey Konga 2 review

NGC gets funky with the bongo-banging monkey... again

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No matter how hard you try, you can never, ever look truly cool while playing a videogame. Any game, any console.

Luckily anyone else in the room is most likely to be watching what's happening on the TV while you're squirming in your seat and wrestling with the joypad, but you can imagine how embarrassing it would be if you suddenly became the centre of attention.

In your mind, you'd be heroically protecting the president's daughter from hordes of pitchfork-wielding lunatics.

In reality, your mum would be laughing at the way your tongue pokes out during the difficult bits and your mouth hangs open when you lose a life. "Quickly, get the camera - he's doing his game face again!"

In Donkey Konga, it's actually much more interesting to watch the players than the on-screen action.

Consequently, if you've ever been a little self-conscious about making a fool of yourself in front of an audience, this game will make you feel only marginally less embarrassed than if you accidentally caught your dad practising primal scream therapy with his golf buddies.

Which is why, for the sake of your self esteem, you shouldn't even consider buying Donkey Konga 2 if you're only likely to play its solo mode - in a room filled with mocking friends and camcorder-toting uncles. You'll never live it down. One day your own grandchildren will hear about it and be ashamed.

But plug in an additional three sets of bongos, distribute them among your sceptical spectators, and you might as well wave goodbye to your Gamecube for a few hours.

The only thing that can put a stop to the four-way frenzy of drum-slapping noise is when somebody has to take a pain break to plunge his hands into iced water. You can actually tell exactly how long you've been playing Donkey Konga by counting the number of throbs per second from your reddened palms.

Clapping really hurts after a while. The drum tops are soft and padded, so you could probably thump them for half a day - a whole day if you use the backs of your hands too - before you'd need to consider how you might phone for an ambulance using your toes and elbows. Clapping, though... Clapping is the real killer.

Sometimes Donkey Konga throws up a devil of a combo in one bar, reverses it in the next one, then demands that you perform the clapping equivalent of a drum roll to round it all off.

It's difficult in a physical sort of way, like Dance Dance Revolution on hot coals, and if you can master it on the highest, most drum-laden setting, you're probably the kind of person who wishes that Ikaruga wasn't so easy.

For this second instalment they've fixed the bug that meant you could score a hit every time by pressing both bongos together, so there's no refuge for the cheaty player.

Of course that's not to say it ever gets so stupidly tough that you'll have trouble finding any multiplayer competition.

If you play it anything like we do, the whole point of a Donkey Konga session is musical fun rather than high scores.

Somebody always gets declared the winner after each round, but it's far more satisfying to play for the simple pleasure of blasting through a four-way arrangement of a favourite track without anyone missing a beat.

When you can manage that, it sounds amazing, and the last thing you'll be concerned about is who got the best ranking at the end.

Basically we love pretty much everything about Donkey Konga and its assorted regional sequels. It's brilliant that Nintendo and Namco brought this game to market, and even better that they keep supporting the bongo peripheral with modestly priced updates.

If you don't buy every single one of them, you might as well visit Shigsy's house and wee through his letterbox. That's how disrespectful you are.

For the purpose of providing a balanced review, though, there are a few little things we're not entirely happy with.

The fact that the songs are all cover versions is something we can live with, as it's hard to tell the difference when you've got people clapping and thumping all over the room.

But what we don't like is the way they fade out after a couple of minutes - probably so the kids playing today still have a fully working pair of hands by the time they're old and wrinkly, but as soon as a song finishes we tend to put another one on right away. Sorry, Nintendo, but your nanny tactics won't work on us.

Also, the minigames are great but why are there only two of them? Come on guys, give us some bongo-powered monkey olympics to mess about with...

Lastly, the front end is a complete mess. Granted, this game isn't about looks, but the menus are horrible to navigate and the Japanese fonts have been replaced by English ones that don't even fit the allotted space. It offends our eyes.

Anyway, the review is now done. Who's for a spot of bongo action, then?

Donkey Konga 2 is out for Gamecube now

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