A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a simple kart-style racing game that swaps out traditional wheeled vehicles for flying bongo harnesses. It features plenty of Donkey Kong characters kids are likely to recognize, including an alarmingly ample-bosomed ape named Candy. The game features only mild violence of the variety the kiddy-racing genre is known for; namely, cartoonlike assaults on other racers using goofy items like explosive barrels and short-lived tornadoes. The biggest hurdle for kids will be growing accustomed to the unintuitive motion-sensitive controls, which are touchy and don't provide for precise steering. Up to four players can race at once, but both Wii remote and nunchuk controllers are required for all players.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
There are no karts in DONKEY KONG: BARREL BLAST, a racing game in which flying bongo harnesses replace more traditional vehicles, but its basic design is sufficiently similar that it qualifies as a kart racer in spirit. Players spend their time zooming around more than a dozen courses in wildly varying locales picking up special items like pineapple launchers and explosive barrels to slow up their opponents while avoiding goofy obstacles like windmill blades and octopi tentacles.
The shtick is in the motion-sensitive controls: Players shake their remote and nunchuk controllers to beat their bongo skins and accelerate, shift them left or right to turn, and move them up quickly to jump.
Is it any good?
The controls unfortunately make the game difficult to enjoy. There's a good chance you may accidentally jump while making the motions for acceleration, or turn when making the motion to jump. This makes racing a fundamentally aggravating activity until you train your hands and wrists to move in extremely precise fashion. It requires an inordinate amount patience and practice to become skilled enough to race with confidence; so much, in fact, that most players will probably give up after the first few races.
And the pity is that even if you do have the fortitude to plod through and master the finicky controls, you won't be rewarded with much other than a few new characters and difficulty levels. The career mode lacks even a hint of narrative, and Candy's Challenges -- the only other real mode in the game, aside from multi-player -- does little to persuade people to keep playing (unless they really, really have a hankering to punch a few more barrels or collect a few more bananas).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about kart-style racing games, comparing and contrasting them. Do the recognizable characters typically featured in these games make them more fun? Do you like the motion sensitive, bongo-like controls in this game, or do you prefer the more traditional controls of other kart racers? Which power-up item in Barrel Blast is your favorite? Which is your least favorite? Which of Candy's challenges did you enjoy the most?
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