It seems a bit odd that King of Swing is being released now considering that it’s been available in Japan and Europe for several months now. One can only guess that Nintendo wanted to delay a GBA title or two to show that it’s still supporting its older handheld system as well as the DS. King‘s release also happens to be timed to about the same time as the launch of the new Game Boy Micro, which is surely no coincidence. Marketing discussion aside, we have a new Donkey Kong game to play! And although it may be for a nearly forgotten system, that doesn’t mean that it’s worth skipping.
On its surface, this is a platform game, but instead of the standard “run to the right” affair, this title is built around its unique control scheme. The entire game is designed to be played with the GBA’s shoulder buttons (those are the L and R buttons, pal). When you’re on the ground, pressing either one of those buttons makes Donkey Kong walk it the respective direction. Hold down both and release them to make the big ape jump.
Of course, if you’re actually on the ground, you’ve most likely screwed up. This game ain’t called King of Swing for nothing. You’ll spend most of the game swinging, which is where the shoulder button-based gameplay really shines. While swinging, the buttons control each of DK’s hands — pressing the R button, for instance, makes him close his right fist. If you’re in front of something that can be touched (typically a wall or a hovering sphere), DK will hang onto it and begin rotating around his newly grabbed pivot point. Maneuvering around in midair is simply a matter of properly timing presses of the shoulder buttons to make DK move from point to point.