DK: King of Swing Review (GBA)

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DK: King of Swing Review (GBA)






Donkey Kong has always been one of the most recognizable characters in gaming. From the original arcade classic Donkey Kong to the groundbreaking Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo. With the release of Donkey Kong Country Returns in 2010 and the upcoming Tropical Freeze, the ape is looking better than ever. It wasn't always this way however. When Nintendo sold Rare (the developer of the Donkey Kong Country trilogy and DK 64) to Microsoft, many thought DK's glory days were over. Many of the games released between the selling of Rare and this recent revival are overlooked, but do they deserve to be forgotten? Today's subject is one such game, DK: King of Swing.



Developed by Paon and released in 2005 for the Gameboy Advance, the game puts you in the role of the titular hero, Donkey Kong. While preparing for the annual Jungle Jam festival with Cranky Kong, they are rudely interrupted by the fiendish King K. Rool who steals all of the medals for the Jungle Jam. Obviously you can't have a festival without prizes, so it's up to you to chase down K. Rool and take back the stolen medals. Like the majority of Nintendo titles, the gameplay is the main focus, not the story, which is thus very minimal.



If you come into this game expecting a traditional platformer akin to the Donkey Kong Country series, you're going to be in for a surprise. Right off the bat you'll notice that DK is controlled a bit differently than most games. You move using the L and R buttons and jump by pressing both simultaneously. Each shoulder button controls one of Donkey Kong's hands. Scattered throughout every level are colored pegs and peg boards that you use to swing around. By holding down both buttons, you can charge up an attack to blast through foes and barrels alike. In each stage there is a variety of items to collect. As always, bananas play a large role in the game, though they are a but more important here. The bananas are stored and up to 300 can be held at a time. By pressing the B button you can use 10 bananas to regain one of your 3 hearts. You can also press the A button to use 20 bananas an literally "Go Bananas" to become invincible for a short time. You will also want to keep your eyes out for Medals and Crystal Coconuts hidden in each level. These can unlock more challenges and characters in the Jungle Jam mode, which is a neat little selection of mini games. Swinging on pegs sounds like it could be repetitive, and it is. However, the developers did a good job of giving each level have it's own unique elements and it keeps the action from ever getting too stale. DK: King of Swing has an extremely unique premise and it works like a charm. It may not be the traditional platformer some people wanted, but it's great in it's own right.



As you may have seen from the screenshots, the artstyle in King of Swing is very colorful and cartoony. The animations are impressive as well, and seeing DK's tie flap in the air while you fall is a great touch. Everyhting is suitably vibrant and each environment feels unique thanks to it. It looks fantastic on the Game Boy Advance and the it gives the characters and the world a lot of personality. The music is similarly excellent, and it fits the game's tone perfectly. There may not be as many stand out tracks as the DKC series, but there are still some catchy tunes here. Take a listen:

Banana Bungalow

Neck's Canyon

Contraption Cave



The single major flaw in the game is that it's simply too short. With around 20 levels, each taking no more than 20 minutes to beat, the game can easily be completed within 5 hours. There is an unlockable Diddy Mode which lets you ply through the game as Diddy Kong in what is essentially the hard mode of the game. You still go through the same levels and boss fights thought, so it doesn't help lengthen the game too much. One the flipside, if the game had been too much longer, it very well may have felt stale by the end, but that doesn't change the fact that your journey is much too brief. That aside, there isn't much else to complain about. The controls could take a but of getting used to, but nothing feels better than learning to master your momentum and make precise jumps. The difficulty curve starts off rather low in the beginning, but the last few levels do ramp up the challenge quite nicely. If you have a link cable for your Game Boy Advance, the Jungle Jam events can be played with a friend if you ever feel so inclined.



To but it bluntly, DK: King of Swing is the definition of a hidden gem. It has a unique gameplay premise wrapped up in a solid audio-visual package. If you ever have the chance to try this game, do it. The adventure may be brief, but every moment of it is fantastic.

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Capn' Pancakes
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DK: King of Swing Review (GBA) :: Comments

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Post on Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:31 pm by Capn' Pancakes

Wow, it took way longer to get this review out than I wanted, partly due to the fact that my draft got deleted the other day >.>

Hopefully the review isn't worse off for it, but I hope you enjoy regardless.

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