Forget the lion. When it comes down to who is the true king of the jungle, there is no doubt that it’s Donkey Kong. Old Cranky Kong delivers a helpful set of tutorial levels right off the bat that’ll help you get to grips with swinging
around in no time. Basically, the L and R shoulder buttons are what you’ll be relying on most of the time - they correspond to DK’s left and right hand grips respectively. By holding them down when DK’s oversized palms cover one of the pegs, he’ll proceed to latch on and rotate around in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. Release the button and DK will swing off on a tangent, hopefully bringing you to another peg to grip onto, or else, meet the life-sucking abyss that may lie below. You are given some control over DK whilst in mid-air, but overall precision swinging is what will make or break your day.
This game is all about swinging to and from pegs. On paper, it doesn’t sound like much, but in practice the intuitive controls open up an experience that is both fresh and highly addictive. Early on, you’ll have stationary peg grids built into the background, incorporated into trees branches, alcoves and everything else that looks like it could be remotely clung onto. It becomes tougher as you make progress, though.
The gradual yet challenging learning curve will slowly introduce dynamic pegs, driven by water currents or blown about haphazardly by swift gusts of air. There are special switch pegs that need to be hooked onto successfully to unlock gates or rotate the stage advantageously, sometimes inadvertently triggering a rising flow of lava that spells “get out of the volcano quick or you’re monkey stew!” Then there are the mirror worlds, where the dual screens display slightly different perspectives of DK’s surroundings. Only pegs that are present on both screens are real, and so it becomes somewhat of a mind game trying to figure out where you can swing to whilst avoiding the incessant bird-brained critters.
This is the kind of game that the DS was made for. Sure, not everyone is looking for something ‘different’; Jungle Climber plays nothing like the original SNES platformers, gearing itself more towards casual play rather than an adventure of epic proportions. But that’s ok. I love its unique take on a ‘swinging platformer’. This is a pick-up-and-play game in its purest form, albeit with a uniquely tropical control set-up that hasn’t been utilised anywhere else before, sans its neglected prequel. If you own a DS, you owe it to yourself to swing low over to this sweet chariot of creativity.