Review: ‘Fantasy Strike’ Is A Fighting Game That Understands…Game of the Year: Jordan Minor’s Best Video Games of 2018 Stay on target For too long the definition of “Game of the Year” has been unfairly narrow. How boring is it to see every website shower the same stale AAA games with praise at the end of each holiday season? So at Geek.com we’re doing what we can to put a stop to this in Game of the Year, a new column celebrating worthy alternative picks for the year’s greatest game regardless of genre, platform, year of release, or even quality. Here, any game can be Game of the Year!I love Donkey Kong. He may not be the smartest ape or star in my favorite Nintendo games, but he is my favorite Nintendo character. I love Donkey Kong so much I wrote an essay on my blog that put me on Nintendo’s radar. I love that Donkey Kong’s name is Donkey Kong. So, of course, sooner rather than later one of these glorious gorilla games was going to earn our coveted weekly Game of the Year Prize. However, regardless of my ape admiration, 2005’s Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is a legitimately phenomenal game, as long as you play it with the right controller.In the heady days of 2004, as Nintendo dealt with GameCube disappointment while unaware of the DS/Wii fortune in their future, I like to imagine some brave designer shouted, “Screw this! Let’s make some bongo drums!” The results were the DK Bongo Drum Controllers, a sturdy pair of barrel-shaped plastic bongo drums that plugged into your GameCube. Each drum was a button. In the middle was a smaller button as well as a microphone for listening to claps.AdChoices广告The bongos launched with Donkey Konga, a basic percussion rhythm game from Namco in the vein of their Taiko: Drum Master series. You could drum along with friendly pop hits like “Louie Louie” and “We Will Rock You” as well as Nintendo songs like the Mario theme or the song from the Kirby anime. It was a fine game, as were its two sequels, but following its release the obvious question was, “What other kind of game could anyone possibly make with bongo drum controllers besides a bongo drum rhythm game?”Maybe those games were enough. Plastic instrument games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band were just about to blow up, and it’s not like Nintendo ever tried to make a platformer with the dance pad from Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix. Maybe the DK Bongo Drums had served their full purpose.Nope, not even close.Few would argue that the Super Mario Galaxy series is anything less than one of Nintendo’s most magnificent modern masterpieces. That game is the star child of Nintendo’s relatively young Tokyo team. But before they took Mario into the cosmos, that same team made the best Donkey Kong game of all time. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is a gorgeous, endlessly creative 2D platformer controlled solely with the DK Bongos.How does that work? From the wild opening logo onwards, players bang on either drum to move left or right, hit both to jump and clap to trigger various context-sensitive actions. It may wear out your palms, but this deceptively deep control scheme makes the act of playing the game a constant stream of rhythmic satisfaction. Commanding DK to nimbly leap throughout his environment, increasing banana combos and bouncing off walls and teaming up with animals pals out of Donkey Kong Country, feels good down to your bones. Pummeling bosses, from wicked Rastafarian Dread Kong to potential Tilda Swinton character Karate Kong, in Punch-Out!!-style fights by drumming as hard and fast as you can is as close as you can get to actually punching monkeys in the face.The control scheme is the draw, but the rest of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is a joy from top to bottom. Floating through suspended fruit juice or riding a goat down a mountain hint at the irreverent approach to platforming innovation the team would refine in Mario Galaxy. It’s a little short, but it’s worth replaying as you hone your bongo technique for higher scores. It’s a beautiful game, too. The recent Donkey Kong Country revival from Retro Studios is fantastic. It’s from the creators of Metroid Prime after all. But it was amusing hearing the designers talk about using the power of the Wii U to give DK real fur texture when Donkey Kong Jungle Beat pulled that off on the GameCube.Donkey Kong Jungle Beat was the last game to make use of the DK Bongos. The mediocre racing game Donkey Kong Barrel Blast dropped support from the peripheral when it shifted from GameCube to Wii. Nintendo later released a modified port of Jungle Beat on Wii with more traditional controls. The game remains strong enough to be worth playing, but without the drums, the experience is compromised.It’s a testament to Donkey Kong Jungle Beat’s quality that it single-single justifies the existence of a super specific, and ultimately kind of dumb, controller. We should always appreciate games that make great use of unconventional control schemes in the face of an industry and player base demanding for nothing but boring, homogeneous gamepads. That’s what being a Game of the Year is all about.Check back next week to read about the next Game of the Year!