Originally a Nintendo Gamcube title, Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast quietly got moved to Wii in late 2006. When Barrel Blast was first announced, it was supposed to use the DK bongo drum accessory. By hitting the left bongo, your character would move right and by hitting the right bongo, your character would move right. By hitting both simultaneously, your character would jump. However Barrel Blast no longer supports the DK bongo drum accessory. Instead, the game uses the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. The Wii Remote and Nunchuk work almost exactly the same as the DK Bongo accessory except that you move your Wii Remote or Nunchuk up and down rapidly to accelerate. Then by simultaneously lifting the Wii Remote and Nunchuk up you could jump. However, was the switch from a DK bongo drum accessory game to the Wii Remote and Nunchuk a good change or should Barrel Blast have stayed a Nintendo Gamecube title?
Barrel Blast was originally scheduled for a late 2006 release on Nintendo Gamecube. Time gradually passed and very little information was shared about the game. Finally 2007 began and Barrel Blast was unreleased. Many thought it was cancelled but little did they know that the game was still in development. However, it was now being developed for Wii instead of the Nintendo Gamecube.
If you were to compare the SNES Donkey Kong games to recent Donkey Kong games, you’d quickly discover that things are going downhill for the franchise. Recent Donkey Kong games such as Donkey Konga and Donkey Konga 2 aren’t that high-quality and Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast isn’t an exception. Essentially, Barrel Blast tried to mimic the excellent Mario Kart franchise and the end result was a terrible racing game on Wii.
The biggest complaint many will have with Barrel Blast is the hideous gameplay. As mentioned before, you accelerate by shaking both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. To move right, you shake the Wii Remote and to move left, you shake the Nunchuk. To jump, you simultaneously lift both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. However, if you drum too fast, the controller will think you want to jump and your character jumps. Random jumping isn’t all that great because while in the air, you slow down. If you continue shaking the Wii Remote and Nunchuk while in the air, you’ll stay in the air even longer.
As I mentioned before, Barrel Blast tried to mimic the famed Mario Kart series and failed. In Mario Kart, each track only took a couple of minutes to complete. In Barrel Blast, some tracks can take upwards of six minutes to complete. On top of that, racers move incredibly slow and once you reach maximum speed, you don’t have to shake the Wii Remote and Nunchuk anymore. Your racer will just keep going until they finish or hit an obstacle. By the way, if you hit an obstacle, you lose speed and you’ll have to shake the Wii Remote and Nunchuk again to reach maximum speed.
In Barrel Blast, the motion controls are literally broken. Sometimes when you want to turn right or left and you shake the Wii Remote or Nunchuk, the controller thinks you want to jump. Sometimes when you want to jump, your character doesn’t jump until a second or two later. On top of that, you have the issue of drumming too fast.
To attack or smash enemies and barrels, all you have to do is hit a button. You can also pop balloons on the track to gain an item; all you have to do to use this item is click a button. Your character usually responds quickly but there is sometimes a delay. Also, there are two colors of balloons: red balloons will boost the Kong’s item and blue balloons will boost the Kremling’s powers.
In total, there are sixteen characters to play with. You start off with six characters and you have to unlock the others. In addition to this, there are a total of sixteen tracks to race on spanning seven different worlds. The tracks are generally full of obstacles to try to make each course seem hard. However, the more obstacles on a track, the more boring your experience becomes. As I mentioned before, the controls aren’t that good and it’s quite difficult to avoid these obstacles when you have trouble turning.
Throughout each course, there are loads of bananas for you to collect. Once you collect fifty bananas, you gain a speed boost. To use this speed boost, all you have to do is pull down on the analog stick on the Nunchuk. If you hit a barrel or enemy, your speed boost will last longer. The more barrels and enemies you hit, the longer your speed boost will last.
Barrel Blast has some decent animations and models but it doesn’t quite make up for the things it lacks. The game runs in 16:9 and 480p. The graphics are very vibrant and lively but unfortunately they could've been pulled off on Nintendo Gamecube. The frame rate sometimes suffers making this terrible game even worse.
When everything is said and done, Barrel Blast is literally a waste of money. The game has very little depth and the motion controls are broken. There is however Mii support but unfortunately, you can’t race as a Mii. Barrel Blast also has a lot of repetitive music but the music fits the game quite well. There is also no point in playing this game again after a few hours besides trying to complete all the challenges and play multiplayer with friends and family. Then again, if you didn’t like the single player mode you're probably not going to like the multiplayer mode.