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Donkey Kong: King of Swing (Nintendo Game Boy Advance) Review
Review by 
8.15/10 from 2 user ratings
 
I do. I love it. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. Well, I'm a little ashamed, but not much. Because it's awesome. This game, Yoshi's Touch and Go, and Donkey Kong Jungle Beat are similarly wondrous games to me, in that they invented a novel mechanic and just nailed the fuck out of it on the first try. All of these overlooked gems recall my favorite parts of the dearly departed arcade experience.

But most of you have experienced Jungle Beat and Touch and Go by now. Let's focus on King of Swing, one of the GBA's unsung heroes. Developed by Paon (who just brought us Glory of Heracles), a company apparently made up of bits of Data East, King of Swing takes the basic premise of Clu Clu Land (swinging around pegs) and throws in gravity and the deep, physics-based precision of something like Bionic Commando NES. The basic mechanics are easy to grasp, but very difficult to master, and holy hell, does the game encourage you to master them. It gets pretty challenging, but mostly in a "I'm going to get you this time, game!" way, rather than a "I'm never, ever going to play you again, game." way. Finishing levels isn't too difficult, but picking up the Crystal Coconuts and Medals adds a nice dose of optional challenge. And the host of little mini-levels that unlock at pleasant intervals make facing up to that challenge extra-satisfying.

Mostly, I love how this game takes its simple, novel mechanic and exploits it to the very fullest, so that the experience remains fresh and challenging until the very end. It's very arcade, very fun, and, although it was developed by Paon, very Nintendo. Yeah. So I encourage you guys to try out this series, if you haven't. Nothing else feels quite like it (except, perhaps, for Aura Aura Climber, which is also awesome). There's also a DS iteration, called Donkey Kong Jungle Climber. Yep.

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Posted: 07/20/10, 07:33:06  - Edited by 
 on: 07/20/10, 19:51:05    
 
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I've picked up a few titles on the Game Boy Advance recently that were released late into the game, titles I personally overlooked due to being caught up in Nintendo DS excitement. The Minish Cap and Drill Dozer come to mind, but I haven't put much thought into playing King of Swing.

DK's history of games has been pretty quirky since the Donkey Kong Country series, and sort of overlooked in a way. I was reading the newest Gameinformer yesterday, and it didn't even mention Jungle Beat when stating that the series has been basically absent since the Super Nintendo. Thanks for the review Anand. I just might have to play this someday!


Posted by 
 on: 07/20/10, 07:55:32
@Octorockin

Where do you pick up GBA games these days? Over here (Montreal) you can't really find them in stores anymore, and I'm afraid to use Ebay because of all the pirate cartridges...


Posted by 
 on: 07/20/10, 14:46:26
@Pandareus
Amazon Marketplace? That can be pretty expensive, though, for a rare game.

@Octorockin
Yeah, I actually loved what Nintendo was doing with Donkey Kong for a while. He became their new 'experimental' brand, to supplement or replace Kirby. I love all of that crazy shit they released under his name - Donkey Konga (fantastic multiplayer), Jungle Beat, King of Swing... Even Coconut Crackers was decent, in its Dr. Pants reskin. I have a similar fondness for all of the crazy Kirby experiments, like Tilt and Tumble, Kirby Air Ride, Kirby Dream Course, Kirby Block Ball, etc. Some of the crazy Pokemon stuff is good, too, but a lot of it is NOT.

Regardless, these are the kind of wacky titles that I love to see from Nintendo. Some would say that Nintendo is in a renaissance now, and their flagship games HAVE been amazing, but I kind of want to see more nutty arcade-style fun. That's why I'm looking forward to FlingSmash. It's also why I scoff when people say ridiculous stuff like Nintendo hasn't designed any new games in 20 years. If you look past the IPs, these are some of the freshest experiences around.

Anyway, it looks like DK is 'legit' again. Ah, well. Ball's back in Kirby's court, perhaps? Or maybe it's all Miis from this point on.


Posted by 
 on: 07/20/10, 19:50:14
@Pandareus

You might run into some luck at a Gamestop. While they don't stock as many Game Boy Advance games now, there's usually a small cabinet in each store with a small selection to choose from. I've seen games like The Minish Cap, Astro Boy, and Mario & Luigi sitting around in local stores (California), and there's even a buy 2 used games get one free deal going on right now.

Most of the time, I'll do what Amand said and visit Amazon, and Ebay is a good choice too. Before buying titles on Ebay, make sure the item you're buying doesn't have a stock picture, and check the seller's feedback really well. There can be some bootlegs floating around, but my experiences have been pretty good.

@anandxxx

I can see Flingsmash sit next to oddball Nintendo games like King of Swing and Kirby's Dream Course. One thing I've really liked about this generation of consoles are downloadable services, because they open the way for smaller, experimental and fun games that you might not see hit retail stores as often. I'm very excited for some more traditional Kirby and DK games, but I'm also looking forward to seeing different approaches like Flingsmash and Kid Icarus Uprising.


Posted by 
 on: 07/20/10, 22:13:34
Wait...the game is similar to Aura Aura Climber? Ok, now I have to track this down. Thanks.


Posted by 
 on: 07/21/10, 02:02:03
@Octorockin
Definitely, the downloadable services have become the home of most of the weird, offbeat games that appeal to me. This is kind of a knee-jerk statement, but I might be more interested in the downloadable games this gen than the retail ones.

@anon_mastermind
Yeah! Banking off the runaway success of Aura Aura Climber was a good move.


Posted by 
 on: 07/21/10, 05:47:20
I played a bit at a demo station, it seemed pretty good. I'll be sure to check it out if I see it, though.


Posted by 
 on: 07/21/10, 05:55:05
So I rented DK Jungle Climber based on this thread. It's pretty enjoyable and, like you said about King of Swing, rather challenging. I'm a platforming GRAND MASTER CHAMPION AMAZING PERSON, but even I'm having a bit of trouble getting to a few of the secret doodads around each stage. It would help if I used the invincible-flying-mode that you get for killing so many enemies, but I keep forgetting it's there. If the game has one problem, it's that it seems pretty short. I think I'm very close to the end and I've only been playing for like four hours. It seems like there are some extra difficult levels after completion though, and each World has a super-challenge stage that ramps things up pretty high. The mix of difficulty and collection really reminds me of the DKC games (along with the visual style), though obviously the gameplay is less like a traditional platformer.

So yeah, rental recommended (or if you can find it for cheap) if you like variations on the traditional platformer. Might change my mind after I play more but it's definitely worth checking out if you're interested.


Posted by 
 on: 08/07/10, 20:04:50  - Edited by 
 on: 08/07/10, 20:05:12
Success!!

I guess King of Swing is kind of short, but it's pretty unique, and, for once, I focused on 100%-ing the game, which extended it to a decent length. I don't know if I'd ever try to 100% a super-long game, but the short ones (like Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland) seem doable.

Do you really consider this series a 'platforming' series, though? I kind of don't. But I guess you could just consider the platforms rotated into the Z-Axis...


Posted by 
 on: 08/07/10, 20:32:44
Yeah it's hard to define it in a genre. I'd say the focus on getting from point A to point B where the environment is the primary obstacle means it's a platformer...but of course the way you get around isn't like any other platformer. So who knows.

Anyway, I've completed all the story mode stages and I think the game's BIGGEST biggest problem is that the boss fights just don't work that well. The floaty feel of the game just wasn't made for semi-traditional boss fights, and they felt more frustrating than they should. Still, it uses its gimmick to great effect in the stages and offers plenty of challenge. I still haven't finished any of the special stages in each world (tried the first one and it's quite difficult), and there are eleven skill stages after the game that each test some strange mechanic within the controls that you wouldn't bother trying in single-player mode, and in that sense it reminds me of Bionic Commando Rearmed's challenge rooms (that, to this day, I still can't figure out some of them). Not nearly as tough, for sure, but still plenty challenging and rewarding to finish.

I may go for 100% completion here. I figure it took me maybe 6 hours in two days to get to 60%, so how hard could the rest be? On the other hand, it's a rental and my backlog is ridiculously huge (enough so that I'm once again thinking of canceling my GameFly so I can get some of it done). I agree that the length, while short, is just enough that the dangling carrot always seems in reach, even when things get tough. All in all, not a great game but one that's unique and competent enough that it's absolutely worth checking out.


Posted by 
 on: 08/07/10, 23:22:34  - Edited by 
 on: 08/07/10, 23:24:48
Pandareus said:
@Octorockin

Where do you pick up GBA games these days? Over here (Montreal) you can't really find them in stores anymore, and I'm afraid to use Ebay because of all the pirate cartridges...
I've been buying GBA games off Ebay lately and haven't had any problems. I try to avoid buying from Hong Kong and when possible I try to get games that are new and sealed in the box with actual photos instead of stock. Recently I bought Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow and Max Payne, both new, Max Payne was $10 and Splinter Cell was only $4!


Posted by 
 on: 08/08/10, 03:06:36  - Edited by 
 on: 08/08/10, 03:07:32
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