|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Paon Corp.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 8, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Donkey Kong has been a lovable character for a great many years now, and it is good to see that the Donkey Kong franchise continues to reinvent itself. Many of Donkey Kong's previous titles were fairly unique and challenged gamers to play in interesting ways. That being said, Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast is no exception. Although it is a racing game with similarities to the Mario Kart franchise, it still manages to put an interesting spin on the tried and true formula.
The sheer absurdity of the game's premise is definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of the experience. You will get to race as Donkey Kong or one of the established Kong characters you've come to know and love. But instead of having a vehicle or a cart to maneuver around in, your character will just have two rocket-powered bongos strapped to its waist. These bongos will allow you to hover around and gain speed by striking them. I thought that a coconut radio was ludicrous, but rocket bongos have now topped my list of ridiculous concepts.
Since the Wii doesn't have a bongo peripheral yet, you will get to use the Wii-mote and Nunchuk in its stead. To gain speed, you will need to alternately shake the controllers up and down until you have reached your maximum speed. Once you have done so, you will maintain your velocity and be free to focus on the racing. Unfortunately though, if at any time you are hit by an enemy or slam into an immovable object, you will have to repeat this process to get going again. This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but since you will also need to shake the appropriate controller to steer your character, this can often result in frustration. There is nothing more irritating than trying to skillfully maneuver through some treacherous barrels while trying to regain your speed. You are also able to perform a jump at any time by pulling up with both controllers.
Having all of these essential moves based on very similar motions was really a huge mistake. During almost every race, there will come a point when your character appears as though it has lost complete control over its motor functions while you to recover from an accident. Your flailing character will steer hard in multiple directions and jump erratically until you can finally get it back under control. Since you basically can't control your character while speeding up, completing some races will be incredibly difficult and anger inducing.
The racing isn't all bad though. There are balloons scattered around every racetrack that will give you items that can aid you in your quest for victory. Some of the items are more useful than others, but as a whole they are fairly interesting. Barrel Blast also includes an ability referred to as wild moves. This is basically just an oddly named turbo boost. To charge up a wild move, you will need to collect 50 bananas by running over them or smashing barrels. Once you have a wild move available, you will need to push down on the analog stick and then release to execute it. The thing that differentiates wild moves from just plain turbo boosting is that if you smash into barrels or enemies while boosting it will create combos that will extend their longevity. If you manage to perform these just right, you can almost go an entire lap on one wild move. Creating one of these long combos is really enjoyable and greatly increases your finishing position.