Review: Donkey Konga

Donkey Konga is a typical Nintendo game in that many people don't understand its appeal. This reviewer has heard friends (who know next to nothing about gaming) scorn and criticise this game that they've never even played. A music game with drums and a monkey – hurrah. Just as these friends refuse to acknowledge this game, this is likely to be ignored by many people who regard this as just another kiddie Nintendo game. As usual, they're wrong. However, even some Nintendo fans may ignore this on account of the fact that it is a musical rhythm-action game, and believe it won't have any long term appeal.


Those who choose to give Donkey Konga a chance, however, will find a highly addictive, simple and entertaining party game with hidden depths and one of the best multiplayer modes to be seen on the GameCube – or any console of this generation. Every Nintendo fan owes it to themselves and their friends to pick up this title, if only for a good time after a night out at the pub or to waste an afternoon drumming away.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Read on to find out exactly why this game deserves a place in your games collection…

The gameplay would struggle to be any simpler. As your chosen song plays, symbols fly across the screen indicating which action you should take as it passes the marker – hit the left bongo, the right, both at the same time, or clap – an elongated symbol means you have to do a drum roll. And that's it. No, really. That is really how complex this game is. Obviously there is more to the game than hitting the bongos randomly – you need a good sense of rhythm and timing, and the amount of notes as well as the speed the symbols cross the screen depends on the song and the difficulty setting. But controlling this game could hardly be simpler. This is a game anyone can play – and everyone will enjoy.


So, what songs do you have to 'jam' to? Well, they're quite varied and all done by cover artists (which is more apparent in certain songs than others), and though they might not appeal to all tastes, they work well enough when it comes to practising your drumming skills. And, because this reviewer is in a good mood, the full list is below:

  • Alright
  • Canned Heat
  • Don't Stop Me Now
  • The Loco-Motion
  • Dancing In The Street
  • Para Los Rumberos
  • Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing)
  • Tubthumping
  • You Can't Hurry Love
  • All The Small Things
  • Oye Como Va
  • Louie Louie
  • 99 Red Balloons
  • The Impression That I Get
  • Busy Child
  • I Want You Back
  • Cosmic Girl
  • Richard III
  • Lady Marmalade
  • Wild Thing
  • September
  • Back For Good
  • Hungarian Dance No.5 in G Minor
  • Turkish March
  • Super Mario Bros. Theme
  • Donkey Kong Country Theme
  • The Legend of Zelda Theme
  • DK Rap
  • Donkey Konga Theme
  • Super Smash Bros. Melee Opening
  • Rainbow Cruise


Don't let the 80s tunes fool you – some of these songs are undeniably great – both for listening and drumming. There are three difficulty settings for budding bongo-bashers to sink their teeth into (Monkey, Chimp and Gorilla – work it out), as well as a variety of game modes. The main one is Street Performance, which has you performing the song by yourself at the selected difficulty. You earn coins for clearing each song, which you can use in DK Town. In the DK Town menu, you can buy new sounds, open up higher difficulties, view your records, change settings, and buy mini games – three of which are available in the Ape Arcade as you play through the game. By far the trickiest (and most enjoyable) is Banana Juggle, which predictably sees you juggling as many bananas as you can and earning a high score. The other two (100m Vine Climb and Bash K.Rool) aren't half as enjoyable, so stick to juggling when you want a break from drumming.


But why would you want a break from drumming? When you've mastered the Street Performance in Gorilla mode, you can attempt the Monkey/Chimp/Gorilla Jam, which has you playing the same tunes – but remembering which note to play from memory! If that's too challenging for you, you could try the (wait for it) Challenge mode, which has you playing through all the songs consecutively – which is great fun and good for wasting an afternoon on your lonesome, but can get very tiring!

That's more or less all there is to the single player…what will really keep you playing this for months are the ace multiplayer modes. These are where you'll get the most out of Donkey Konga (provided you have spare pairs of bongos, which cost ₤20 each). For example, in Battle mode you compete with a friend head-to-head to score the most points in a song, while in Jam Session you can play with up to four friends just for fun. This game is deceptively competitive, and has that elusive 'just one more go' factor, which will keep you and up to three buddies playing through the night – or until your palms start to bleed from constantly smacking the drums, whichever comes first. As many of the CE staff will verify, this game has almost infinite replay value provided you've got mates (come on, you must have a few!). With some serious party game competition like Wario Wares Inc. Mega Party Games and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, it's the simplicity and accessibility of Donkey Konga that makes it stand head and shoulders above these other titles as the best party game on the GameCube.


Like Mega Party Games, Donkey Konga has very simplistic graphics – as in 'this could have been done on the SNES' simplistic. However, this is one of very few games where the visuals are completely unimportant. As they are, they're perfectly functional and certainly bright and colourful, so there really is no reason to complain.

With all of this taken into account, Donkey Konga has limited appeal (but appeal nonetheless) if you're Billy No-Mates…um, looking for a single player experience, or if you don't like 80's music. However, as a party title, this game is a must-have. As mentioned at the start of the review, many will decide against this title – but it's likely to become one of the most collectable and sought-after titles in years to come. As it stands, it's one of the most entertaining, and if you're after a whole new multiplayer experience to pass the night away after a night out partying, why not pick up a pair of bongos? You could do worse.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Lower the score if you don't like the songs, but this game is an essential purchase for the multiplayer experience alone.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability5
  • Visuals3
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan5
Final Score



The bongos!
Finest multiplayer
Great songs...


... may not be to your tastes.
Simple graphics
Limited 1 player

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