VC Weekly 328

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe’s guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo’s download service. Written by Sam C Gittins

One of the more interesting examplke in a Nintendo flagship characters career along with one that is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum with good reason! Anyway enough from me and on with the games!
Available for download this week we have...     

DK: King of Swing
Donkey Kong Jr. Math

Price: GB £6.29, EU €6.99
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Paon
Released: 2005
System: GBA
There was a time when Donkey Kong was a mainstay character for Nintendo mainly appearing in arcade games before progressing naturally into sizable platformers which were landmark titles at the time, since the start of this century until only a few years ago the old ape took up residence on a tire-swing for a while, only resurfacing a few times in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series plus several bongo themed titles and this unusual spin-off DK: King of Swing on the GBA which serves as yet another interesting departure from more familiar genres. While this title certainly piqued my interest at the time of its release, it wasn't the new platformer which I personally would have loved to have seen back in the day so I decided not to purchase it, however seeing as it's now available on the Wii U VC for around half of what a boxed copy would set you back these days, this doesn't seem like a bad time to see just how it fares by todays standards.

Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this adventure themed puzzle game is the control scheme which only employs the use of both shoulder buttons, those of you who recall the shape of the original GBA will have noted that there is a similarity to the ones used on the Wii U gamepad making this a perfect fit for the otherwise unwieldy device. All of the stages have a number of strategically placed peg platforms which our favourite ape can latch onto with his brutal paws of fury - which he's normally more accustomed to bashing on the ground - while rotating in a circle until you latch the other hand to another platform; both his left and right hands are controlled independently with the respective shoulder buttons, your goal is of course to make it to the end collecting bananas on the way while dealing with enemies by holding both buttons to perform a charged leap attack which is somewhat satisfying.

It may be quite shallow in the repetitive nature of how the game plays but there's pretty decent design put into each stage, while you're mostly just grabbing the same coloured pegs you will get to flick some switches and even navigate some rotating platforms too so there's at least some variation; plus there are the aforementioned bananas to collect which can be exchanged for power-ups to make life a little easier in addition to medals which can be nabbed purely for your own smug satisfaction. Beware if you have a particularly low tolerance for retrying stages though as there are parts where it just feels plain unfair, yet if you persevere then you will surely at least grab a few hours of simple enjoyment from this oddity as there are plenty of bosses to beat and even some rather good unlockable characters I'll leave you to discover.


All of the games visuals are nicely rendered featuring a rather unique style which still feels fresh even today, there is a little bit of variation throughout the adventure but mostly you'll need to become accustomed to seeing quite similar scenery, even so though the animation is nice enough. On the audio side of things it's all rather jovial stuff, obviously not up to the same standard as any of the soundtracks in the Donkey Kong Country games but then you'd never expect it to be, still perfectly enjoyable if a little grating when looped along with some fun sound effects.

Providing that you go into DK: King of Swing expecting a fresh yet rather whimsical gameplay experience which has more in common with the NES classic Clu Clu Land than it ever will with the original Donkey Kong games, then you'll surely enjoy this unique title. It's especially worth dipping into if you never got to experience it a decade ago and it's at least comfortable to play with the gamepad thanks to its simple, relaxed control scheme; these days mainline Donkey Kong titles are thankfully more widely available, especially taking into account the recent Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze so you could even play this as a nice 'break' between the hopefully next title featuring DK which won't be too far away rather than the merely interesting stop-gap title it would have been originally.   

Verdict : Donkey Kong delights with a deceptively clever spin-off.


Price: GB £3.49, EU €4.99
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Released: 1987
System: NES

One made up word... “Edutainment” the definition of this word? Game developers attempting to combine traditional educational subjects - in this case Mathematics - with an existing game concept and ultimately in doing so failing on an epic level and managing only to create something which is completely contradictory due to it being neither fun nor mentally challenging.

Quite frankly that's DK Jr Math in its entirety summed up in a sentence. It's at this point where I could attempt to list some of the games main selling points or some compelling reason as to why it's worth purchasing but that would require me to lie about it  which I'm not here to do. So instead consider this an advanced warning because this title  basically has no point, no sole redeeming feature and nothing to offer in the way of either entertainment or educational value whatsoever.


However if you still wish to purchase this "game” for reasons I can only rationalise as being either completely masochistic or unconventional then by all means that's your prerogative to do so. Just so that you are aware though I did try to warn you and although it's not in my nature to say “I told you so” in this instance I will gladly say so to anyone who purchases it after reading this and then discovers the terrible truth.

If you really do feel the need to educate yourself while playing then I would gladly recommend Brain Training on the DS hands down over any two decade old piece of software that falls under a genre which is an oxymoron. Edutainment? Just say no!
Verdict: A fatally flawed concept which fails to add up.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

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