Behind the Bongos: Donkey Konga
Donkey Konga is a rhythm game where you play bongo drums with up to four people. Bongo drums. This delighted my spastic ADD inner child and my social outer party gamer.
On screen, music notation scrolls by. The notation is pretty simple: left, right, both, or clap. Clap! You sit down with these bongos and bap away. Or, sit down with a friend and bap away. Or, sit down with four people and make sweet cacophony. The songs were silly. Rock Lobster? Yeah. Hungarian Dance. Classical? Yeah. Para los Rumberos? Wow. (Those who have heard me talk about the Puerto Rican plena and Jungle Rumble know that this is cool to me.)
It’s simple. It’s fun. It’s a blast with a crowd.
It’s also very much a traditional follow-the-script rhythm game. Hit the left bongo on time? You’re good. Forget to hit it? You’re not good. You’re graded on timing.
Comparisons to Guitar Hero and the “plastic instrument” genre are inevitable. However, the simplicity of a drum translates into a simple thing you bang on much better than a six string guitar simplifies into a plastic controller.
Donkey Konga was not really revolutionary, considering Drum Mania and Taiko Drum Masters (developed by the same team) had been around for quite a bit. But not being revolutionary doesn’t mean it wasn’t a blast.
There’s one other huge problem here. It’s the same problem Jungle Rumble suffers from on Androids: audio latency. When you hit the drum there’s a noticable delay before the sound plays. It’s really too bad, but not possible to get around without specialized hardware. (Hmm… Disco Pixel specialized hardware?)