Spurred by the success of the Donkey Kong Country series, Nintendo’s adventurous gorilla began appearing in a unique collection of games. DK: King of Swing can be seen as one of the strangest, the puzzle game seeing players control Donkey Kong as he swings along grappling walls to pass obstacles and reach each stage’s conclusion. It’s as simple as that.
Within the game’s Adventure Mode, you join Donkey Kong as the Jungle Jam Festival takes place. As it begins, K. Rool appears and steals all the medals and it’s you are therefore tasked to follow him, reclaim the medals and defeat him once again.
The controls in DK: King of Swing are relatively basic, with players using either the D-pad or the L or R buttons to move when on the ground or to grab onto the wall using Donkey Kong’s left or right hand respectively. From there, the lumbering ape will swing around to allow for you to either grab another hold or to fling yourself to get a lift and climb up. You also have the ability to power up your leap by holding both buttons, letting you break any barrels and defeat any enemy that falls in your path. The goal of each stage is to collect a crystal and a DK medal before journeying to the exit. There are five worlds to play through, each with five stages that present different mechanics such as wind or switches.
You will collect bananas to recover your health or grant invincibility. Whereas you can also play DK: King of Swing as Diddy Kong through the Extras section, increasing the difficulty by removing these bananas, with a Time Attack mode alongside this.
There’s also a special challenge mode which has you play as Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong or Funky Kong as you face the other three in events, such as a Climbing Challenge or an Attack Challenge. At the end, you will get ranked based on your performance. This mode will keep you coming back as you’ll want to continue to beat your high score. Unfortunately, like all Game Boy Advance games on the Wii U, the multiplayer mode of DK: King of Swing does not work which is an inevitable shame.
While the controls are rather tight, you will often find yourself grabbing or letting go at the wrong time, meaning that you will have to climb back up. This is a part of the game’s mechanics but when you have no indication as to where you should go, some players may find it tricky and frustrating.
The graphics move away from the 3D model style that accompanied the Donkey Kong Country series, instead sporting a cute, cartoon-like aesthetic. This matches the game’s colourful look and helps differentiate from past outings. The sprites and animations are all well done, and hold up today. DK: King of Swing is another where, if you’re playing on the TV, it is advisable to put the smoothing filter on. This makes DK: King of Swing look much easier on the eyes, as it does improve the curves on the sprites.
The sound is good, with many remixes of classic Donkey Kong country tracks joined by similarly memorable sound effects. They are nothing special overall but are still nice to listen to and quite catchy.
Overall, DK: King of Swing is good fun. It’s not perfect and you will find yourself having to repeat the levels due to accidental mistakes, but it’s a solid effort and may result in you coming back to beat your high scores on the various modes. It does feel like it could do with more content and variety, as it mainly relies on the aesthetic to delivers that here.