Earlier on in the week I was complaining that there is not much originality in games, DK: King of Swing has served to shut me up there if nothing else.
In King of Swing you are required to hunt down the medals which have been stolen by King K. Rool as without them a certain tournament cannot take place in the jungle.
The way in which this is done is not like anything I was expecting when I first started the game, instead of the platform game you may expect, comes a rather novel and original vertically scrolling swinging game.
The basics of the game are taught to you at the beginning, movement is handled from the L and R buttons on the GBA, with holding L causing you to walk left and R right, pressing both of the buttons at once will get you to jump.
The levels of the game are filled by several colored pegs and pegboards, it is upon these that the majority of the gameplay takes place. As you jump you can hold either L or R to grab onto the pegs with either your left or right hand which will leave you swinging around the peg in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction depending on which hand you have used to grab onto it, after you have a hold of a peg with DK you can alternately switch between L and R buttons to climb the pegs and pegboards, you can also let go of the buttons altogether in order to come shooting off the peg you are holding in whatever direction you happen to be facing to attempt to 'jump up' to a higher peg. As you progress through the game you will find new devices such as switches, pulleys and levers which will affect the pegs in some way usually rotating them or moving them around.
Joining you on the way to the top of the pegs are some enemies, some of them will follow preset routes from left to right across the screen and can usually be avoided with not too much trouble and some will require you to take them out in order to get past as they will be difficult to slip by or will be climbing the pegs just as you are trying to do the same. You can attack the enemies by holding both L and R down until DK starts flashing and then let go to go bashing into the enemy, holding L and R until flashing will also allow you to jump higher when you release
All of this does come with a certain sense of satisfaction once you get used to the controls and learn how to quickly move from peg to peg without having to spin around the same peg a few times to time your next move, actually reaching the top of some of the levels really does feel very satisfying indeed given the difficulty of some of them, the game throws in leaps of faith, spikes and a tornado later on.
Placed along the pegs you have bananas, a staple ingredient in any DK game it seems, and there is no exception in King of Swing. The bananas you collect have two real purposes, you can press the B button to restore one heart of your life gauge at a cost of ten bananas or you can press A to give your jumps and attacks a supercharge for a limited period of time, also at a cost of bananas, fortunately bananas aren't all that scarce and there are bonus levels dotted around which contain them in abundance, the majority of a players lives will most likely be lost trying to get past the particularly annoying points in the game, of which there are many and you will find that vast quantities of bananas will be reduced to nothing trying to get past them.
The graphics of the game cannot really be faulted in this case, King of Swing features nicely animated brightly colored visuals which are as good as they need to be really for the style of gameplay involved.
King of Swing comes off as being an odd cross between a platformer, a puzzler and something unique and while this is all very original and different the game does definitely have its problems in my eyes however, it can be very repetitive not to mention outright frustrating at times, it does seem to have a bit of a 'one-more-go' factor going for it however as I found myself trying again and again to pass the levels after the sense of frustration had died down, some of the levels really are painfully difficult. It can also be awkward to see when to grab onto the pegs as you are falling down a level from a height, you may have pressed either L or R at what looked like exactly the correct time to grab a peg but DK will go crashing down anyway.
Aside from the main game mode you have the Jungle Jam mode in which up to four players can face off in climbing races, barrel smashing etc but as this mode requires each player to have bought a copy of King of Swing I can't really imagine many players making much use of it, you can play Jungle Jam mode in single player against the computer but this didn't really seem much fun when I tried it.
Overall I think that it's nice to see a developer try out a new idea but this one didn't really wash with me, maybe its just that the game is not my cup of tea but it seemed to be too repetitive and frustratingly difficult all of a sudden at various points for my liking.