Donkey Kong Barrel Blast Hands-on
The US version has arrived. Check out our updated impressions, including tons of new screens.
September 25, 2007 - Over the last few months we've had a chance to do some pretty extensive coverage of the Japanese version of Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, previously known as "DK Jet." Since we're nearing the game's US release, however, Nintendo of America has hooked us up with the final version of the stateside build. We've already given you our import impressions, but since the October 8th release date is soon approaching we figured we'd update you with our latest feelings on the game. Our synopsis: You might want to leave this one on the shelf.
If you're late to the party, Donkey Kong Barrel Blast is the latest brainchild of Nintendo of Japan and developer Paon, best known for the DK: King of Swing and DK: Jungle Climber on GBA and DS respectively. The game is a departure from classic Donkey Kong gameplay, instead adopting what was originally going to be GameCube bongo control, similar to something like DK Jungle Beat or Donkey Konga. With the hype train taking off on Wii, however, Barrel Blast was pushed to Wii along with Super Paper Mario, in hopes of capitalizing on the larger audience.
Why the wait, when Super Paper Mario was such a fast conversion? It's due mainly to the controls and Mii incorporation. Barrel Blast works with the Wii-mote and nunchuk to simulate the controls you would have gotten with the GameCube bongo set, so you'll drum with the nunchuk to move left, drum with the Wii-mote to move right, or slam both together to do a leap. In addition other Wii-esque support was added, including Mii support for profile saves and local leaderboards, as well as IR control for the main menus, Wii-mote speaker audio, and a motion-based trick system. From what we saw of the original DK Jet for GameCube the game has gotten a pretty decent ramp up in its conversion to Wii, as the interface and gameplay is now 100% Wii-specific.
What didn't convert so well, however, was the game's overall control, which is essentially trying to simulate what you got with the two-pad bongo peripheral on Cube. Instead of dropping a bongo set on your lap and drumming away, players will need to air drum to control their character. While this does drop the cost of the game substantially, you lose that tactile feel, and it just isn't as intense as the original looked to be. In addition, there's no ability to connect the Cube drums through the GCN port on Wii, so while we literally sit five feet from two sets of bongos we can't swap them in over Wii-mote control. Why? Our guess is the trick system integration, which allows for four-direction Wii-mote gestures to rack up points during the race.
As for the race system itself, it wouldn't be too bad for the younger Wii owners if it was a bit more polished. The overall concept is there, it just lacks the intensity or depth that most gamers are looking for. You'll kick off the race by drumming until your "Max Power" is reached. At that point it's all about steering with drum control, attempting to pick up bananas and power-ups along the way, while simultaneously triggering level shortcuts or avoiding hazards. As you increase your banana hoard you'll earn speed boosts which can be activated with the analog stick, sending your racer forward in a dash. Continue to hit in-level barrels that would normally mean certain death - or at least certain slowdown - and your speed boost continues.
It has the makings of a good racer, but Barrel Blast just isn't grabbing our attention. The game's overall speed is pretty low, characters stay on-track for the most part even if you stop steering and let them cruise though the levels, and aside from hitting special tiles on the ground to trigger shortcuts or frequent DK Country actions - riding a mine cart or hopping on any of DK's animal friends to gain the lead - it's unfortunately pretty anticlimactic.
If you've got younger gamers in the house, however, or you're obsessed with the DK franchise to an unhealthy degree, Donkey Kong Barrel Blast does have a pretty decent amount of content to it; something we couldn't exactly confirm when playing the Japanese version. The game begins with a total of six racers available, including DK, Diddy, Dixie, Kritter, Kip, and Kass, and leaves the door open for five more on both the good and bad sides of the roster. In addition there are six total cups in the game, beginning with only the Topaz Cup unlocked and moving to Sapphire, Diamond, and three others. Levels are inspired from classic DK locales as well, so you can ride through DK Jungle, hit up the fiery Mt. Dynamite, or hit the snowcaps in Mammoth Glacier. Some of the levels are doubled up, however, as we've come across levels such as Mt. Dynamite Remix, which are essentially the same track locales revisited and tweaked, but with more for us to check out there at least seems to be a decent amount of tracks for DK enthusiasts.
On the graphical side, the US version still runs in 480p and 16:9 like the Japanese build, and for widescreen owners curious about the "actual" 16:9 ratio it does fill the entire screen with no black bars. The audio is a bit of a mixed bag, as you get remixed music from the DK world, but also have to put up with the annoying new English voices that Donkey Kong and the bunch have been so lovingly assigned.
We'll have more on Donkey Kong Barrel Blast as we near the game's review.
Info Provided by: IGN
Go to the link provided to catch some videos and images of this game.
Now I dont know about you guys but I dont think this game is going to interest me much. Tell me your opinions on the game.