DK: King of Swing (Game Boy Advance) Review

By Adam Riley 27.03.2005 11

Donkey Kong was always been renowned for his arcade-style games, then Rare made him infamous in the platform genre, but now he is in a state of limbo, not knowing where to lay his banana skin. First there was the bongo-beating Donkey Konga, platform antics of Jungle Beat and now a new puzzler-cum-platform title by the name of DK: King of Swing. Could this be the hairy one's ideal home?

All is peaceful in the world, with a bright blue sky and lush green forests bursting with life. But there is an excitement buzzing around the area for the Jungle Jam festival is set to commence. Just who will become the true hero of the jungle? Over in the nearby arena, Cranky and Donkey Kong are discussing storing the future winners' medals, when all of a sudden King K. Rool appears. Within seconds the medals have all disappeared and K. Rool is flying off once more leaving just the echoes of evil laughter behind. But will DK be able to rescue them all before the event begins?

Screenshot for DK: King of Swing on Game Boy Advance

King of Swing may be one of the last GBA games produced on the handheld system, but it sure does not look anything like it. For some reason Paon has gone done a strange cartoony route, with the stylish 3D that Rare championed being completely discarded in favour of flat two-dimensional sprites that are bright and generally cute in nature. In fact, so much of a step back is this that there is even moments of minor slowdown, which had long since become a part of the past. It certainly looks as if this has merely been aimed at the younger market, with everything being sweet and cuddly...certainly not what you would expect after recent DK games.

The music is far better, though, with a nice mixture of Rare classics from the Donkey Kong Country series and a few tunes that are newly created for this puzzle outing. Quite pleasingly both sets of music slot in side-by-side without any trouble at all, and when listening to the game through a set of earphones you pick up the full stereo effects wonderfully. Throughout the game you will also be treated to some nice little sound effects that do not grow annoying and repetitive like in some recent GBA titles, as well as a few grunts from the various characters...although these do grow tiresome after a while and you will find that DK starts to grate on your nerves faster than he should. Unfortunately there are no options for you to fiddle around with the levels of balance for the sound effects and music

Screenshot for DK: King of Swing on Game Boy Advance

But none of that matters too much when you come to the guts of a game. Sure, graphics and sound are high contributors to the overall fun factor, but the main aspect is by far and away the gameplay. Far too many titles rely on style over substance, but that is not the case here...not in the slightest. Paon has been asked to step in and take the reins of Donkey Kong franchise for something new. The big hairy ape may have lost his way a little with the multi-million dollar sale of Rare to Microsoft, but it has given Nintendo the chance to experiment a little with the series that was admittedly becoming a tad stale after four traditional platform romps.

So in comes Paon Corporation and serves up what cannot simply be called a platformer, a puzzle game or an adventure, but a clever mix of all three genres. The whole idea is pure fun and simplicity, with only two buttons being the main basis of the control system. You move little Donkey Kong around the screen using both the 'L' and 'R' shoulder buttons of your GBA. Such a basic concept might seem childish, but the way the controls are put to use are very inventive indeed and typical of Nintendo's intent of pouring innovation into an Industry that is running out of fresh ideas fast.

You see it is not just a matter of moving left and right for, as the title suggests, DK swings from coloured pegs and boards of pegs that are found in the sky. You must tap L and R together to jump up, then alternate between the ape's left and right hands using the respective shoulder buttons as you move up and the pegs to progress through each level. This proves to be trickier than you might imagine, as your concentration will undoubtedly slip at the most inopportune moment, sending the poor simian to his demise and leaving you pulling your hair out in frustration. This usually happens when attempting to jump from one board to another, momentarily letting go of both shoulders to fly through out of control through the air. Unfortunately, if you have not timed this perfectly, DK's hands will likely not be within reach of the next peg...or, in the case of one level, a tornado might blow you off track.

Screenshot for DK: King of Swing on Game Boy Advance

Then there are enemies that litter the levels that make your life hell, as well as barrels that hinder you or contain useful goodies. Both can be despatched by holding L+R to charge then release to spring at them, or you can even pick up rocks with one hand, as you swing round with the other, choosing to launch the projectile at just the correct time. Other impediments include switches that must be repeatedly swung from to open gateways, wheels that must be turned to bring platforms closer to you and conveyer belts that move one way or the other depending on which hand you are swinging from then with. That is without even going into the arduous boss battles that will have you cursing, but in a good way that means you will come back for just another shot. This sure is the perfect accompaniment to Jungle Beat...

You will hear many people grumble on about how games are simply not like they used to be, with difficulty levels being far lower or the games' duration just not living up to expectations. Well those people are sure to love King of Swing as it will have you bashing your head against the wall it is so tricky at times. It is not quite the fact that enemies are impossible to get by, more the nature of the game itself

Screenshot for DK: King of Swing on Game Boy Advance

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Launching side-by-side with Jungle Beat, this has so far been overlooked by the European public. But with the Japanese and US releases yet to come, with any luck more will pick up this splendid puzzle/platform experiment in innovation!









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


I can't believe this didn't even make it into the GBA Top 20...! It's so addictive once you give it a chance :Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Graphically the game is lacking a bit, the GBC might have been able to handle those graphics!

But if it's as addictive and fun as you say then I might have to raid the piggy bank (again- curse you Resi4!)

Man another game Nintendo gives us first and we overlook it, sounds very nice, and I am the in mood for more DK GBA action after the DKC remake, will give this a look in.

Folks need to remember that this is nothing like the DKC series, as it's more puzzle/reflex orientated. I love the challenge and simplicity, though...and damn, I forgot to mention in the review how it 'lifts' from an old SNES game called Clockworks, which was created by Tetris-legend Alexey Pajitnov...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Dang this review has made me want this game. Dang i wish i had more money. :(

Don't worry...with the abysmal sales of this so far, you'll no doubt be able to find it for about

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

that pic to the right is funny :p lol

Great review Adam, but I might add that I found this even more enjoyable than the review makes out. The control is ingenious, and the whole thing smacks of FUN! :-D

The more I play it, the more I enjoy it in all honesty! Thanks blizz :Smilie And yes, howzy, that squashed image of Cranky is quite chucklesome...

Anyone know what Paon has done before? According to IGN they make wrestling games...??

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Nice review dude, played this briefly last year, certainly quite fun after you get used to the rather unique controls which really doesn't take too long.

But not sure I would buy it, if only I had some more gaming-obsessed mates I could borrow it from...

[ Edited by spydarlee On 2005/3/28 18:20 ]

Cubed3 Staff [ Retro Editor :: Previews Editor ]

To be honest it's been getting good reviews across the board, so well worth giving it a look! :-D

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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