- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 16, 2009

Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia titles for everyone in the family.

New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (from Nintendo, for the Wii, $29.99) — The latest update of a classic GameCube game for Nintendo’s Wii console remakes a bongo-bashing adventure starring a legendary video game superstar. Except Nintendo forgot the bongo peripheral.

With no drums to pound to bring the ape to life, the game takes on the feel of a much more traditional platformer, slightly enhanced with the Wii controllers acting as Kong’s hands.

The revamped monkey business is still a fast and furious side-scrolling thrill ride for younger players as they jump, run, backflip, swing and swim through lush forests, snowy peaks and desert environments.

The colorful kingdoms also contain an assortment of wild beasts and plant life to confront or catch a ride on while in a desperate search for bananas. A constant supply of the golden fruit is still required to earn crests and act as health points in boss battles.

A passel of primate pals inhabit the lands to help the king of the jungle on his journeys. It’s just silly to watch the pint-size creatures hidden in vines help swing him among the trees or wield tiny Wiimotes to offer guidance.

The player will find the controls an exhausting experience. Although movement is simple with the analog stick and a few buttons, the Wiimote and Nunchuk are shaken liberally. Use them to box brutish primates in level finales or smack airborne creatures, unleash sound waves, quake the ground and grab bananas, most important during the frenzied, fruit-munching minigames.

The latest effort probably will not impress gamers who enjoyed the previous Donkey Kong iteration. The price, however, is right for parents, and more importantly, pre-tweens will devour the big, bold, three-dimensional graphics, frenetic pacing and arm-exhausting interactivity.

Klonoa (from Namco Bandai Games America for Wii, $29.99) — Also checking in on the Wii remake bandwagon, a classic platformer gets upgraded from its PlayStation origins to give a new generation of players a colorful 2.5-D adventure.

That’s right, 2.5. Basically a side-scroller at heart, it shifts within three-dimensional spaces as the action follows the travails of a furry young fellow with floppy ears from the Wind Village. Accompanied by his buddy, a ring spirit resembling a talking blue balloon, they are out to save a songstress and stop the King of Darkness from turning their dream world of Phantomile into a nightmare.

Young gamers will identify with the spunky Disney-derivative hero as he wields a ring that can blast wind bullets at bulbous enemies. He also can pick up opponents and bounce off them to jump higher or throw them to break open items or wipe out other foes.

Of course, as is the case with platformers, collecting is important. In this case, it’s dream crystals, keys, hearts, coins and clocks. Equally as important are defeating level-ending bosses, rescuing villagers and finding mirror fairies.

Mildly interactive for the Wii, players can shake the Nunchuk to set off a whirlwind and flip the Wiimote to toss enemies. Or just hold a Wiimote sideways or hook up a GameCube controller for more traditional navigation.

Unfortunately, what seems like a candy-coated wonderland perfect for the 8-year-old — a Wii game has never looked better — can be quite a difficult and frustrating experience, even for the 10-year-old. While working through the dozen or so progressively more difficult mazes, enemies are very quick to deplete health, and falling to one’s doom is all too commonplace.

The much better and more ambitious selection of games from this genre, including Banjo Kazooie, Kingdom Hearts and Ratchet make Klonoa more of a nostalgic title than one delivering innovation.

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