I'm writing this review a bit late (the game's probably hard to pick up new these days), but it doesn't matter.
Definately get hold of this if you loved the old sidescrolling platformers on the SNES, Mega Drive, or the PlayStation. It's great, great fun.
There's a really wacky, charming jungle vibe to this that comes from the gorgeously animated backdrops and rhythmic musical beats. There's even adorable little monkeys that play drums and trumpets at various points in the background. An adorable, fun touch. Levels will also have background jungle noises to set the scene of a level before you clap to begin, which is very nice.
You'll be playing this platformer not with a normal control pad, but with a tiny pair of drums! Once you've plugged them into your GameCube or Wii, you're ready to go. The controls are so simple to learn. You just tap the left drum to move Donkey Kong left, and the right drum to move him right. Tapping both at the same time will make him leap in the air, and clapping (the drums have a microphone inside them) has DK clap his hands together, creating a small shockwave that knocks enemies dizzy, picks bananas up, or activates switches and other triggers. That's it. You're basically playing with only 4 buttons! So you don't have to figure out a million buttons - this is just simple for those that want it to be, but has more depth for players that want depth. This extra depth comes in the form of stringing actions together, without landing on the ground. You might start by running towards a wall by tapping the right drum a few times to get your speed up, then jumping up at it (tapping both drums together), after which Donkey Kong will hang on to the wall. From there, you'd be able to ricochet from the wall by whacking the right drum, perhaps onto a nearby enemy. Once the enemy's vanquished, you'd land on the ground and recieve 2 combo points - one for the wall, and one for the enemy. That's easy, though; you can build up far more points than that if you want massive scores!
You can even ride various colours of birds, a whale that can leap out of the water to reach high to reach bananas, a cat that doubles as a parachute, and what looks like a giant goat that smashes through anything in your path. The animals add extra spice to an already delicious dish - especially the birds. I'm quite sad that there's no returning buddies from Donkey Kong Country, though. I miss Rambi the Rhino, Squitter, and Squawks the Parrot, and it would've been nice to see them here. I also agree one of the previous reviewers - there are a lot more levels than reviews initially suggested. I was quite surprised as more of them became available to play on the level select screen.
I should give the game 5 stars, but I'm being very nitpicky and knocking one star off, because several of the bosses are re-used multiple times. They're fun every time (and they add slight variations in each battle), but they could've added in more for variety. Particularly of note are the fantastically inventive and cool boxing battles you'll have against various bad monkeys. You'll be tapping the left and right bongos to swing left and right at them respectively, and clapping to dodge backwards and avoid an attack. These are brilliant, and easily the highlights of the boss encounters.
One main aspect I was disappointed with is the fact that - apart from the animal buddies - the makers of the game failed to include any other Donkey Kong Country elements such as barrels, minecart rides, or characters. So Jungle Beat very much feels like a game that stands on its own, seperate from the other Donkey Kong games. As long as you don't go in expecting this to feel and play like Donkey Kong Country, you'll enjoy it a lot more.
Great, great game - one that's sadly been overlooked by the masses, yet is definately a must play with the likes of Pikmin 2, Paper Mario 2, and Zelda: The Wind Waker. If only they could make another sidescroller like this for the Wii, with Donkey Kong Country characters - that'd be nice. Make sure you pick this up with the bongos, though!