For all of those 80s and to an extent 90s kids out there, Donkey Kong is a game that was likely very much part of their lives. Anyone that had a Super Nintendo Entertainment system would have at least heard of Donkey Kong Country, if not owned one of the games in the series at a minimum. While the golden days of classic console gaming may have passed however, Donkey Kong is still having an influence on modern games of all kinds of genre. The endless running genre in particular is ripe for developers looking to evoke some nostalgia in true gamers, prompting FDG Entertaniment to come up with Banana Kong. The similarity of the game's name and elements of its gameplay to the classic simian-themed Rareware series aside, Banana Kong has a fair amount of entertainment to offer up to any player wishing to dedicate a little bit of time to it.
You don't need to be tremendously skilled in the way of the endless runner to be able to enjoy Banana Kong. For the uninitiated, endless running simply means a game whose format is usually side-scrolling (but sometimes upwards-scrolling) in nature that involves guiding your player character through a rapidly-changing on-screen environment fraught with obstacles, pitfalls, and objects to collect, the ultimate goal being to travel as large of a distance as you can possibly manage. The game only ends when you smash into something or cause it to end by meeting (or indeed failing to meet) a certain set of criteria. Subway Surfers is probably the most famous mobile-based endless runner that you may have heard of, though there are dozens out there of varying quality.
Banana Kong's own brand of endless running comes in the form of controlling an ape as he runs away from an avalanche of bananas on the left of the screen. You control the action through different variants of tapping motions on the screen of your mobile device. A single tap makes Banana Kong jump in the usual fashion. Tapping and holding down your finger on the screen makes Banana Kong deploy a leaf that allows him to glide for a short distance until he hits the floor. As you collect bananas that are strewn throughout the environment, you fill up your power bar, which can be used to initiate a power-dash once it is full. In order to power-dash, you must swipe across the screen to the right. This power dash not only gives you a temporary boost of speed to get away from the banana avalanche but also lets you smash through any obstacles that might be in your way that you may not be able to jump over.
And that is the majority of the gameplay in a nutshell. The ultimate goal is to accrue a large score, which consists of the distance you have managed to travel successfully without bashing into an object and losing your lives, one mistake at a time. A little variation is brought to the experience through the ability to purchase a variety of helpful upgrades with the excess bananas that you collect. You can purchase parachutes of superior quality (such as a chewing gum bubble, a ladybug, or a cheetah's fur for example), various power-ups such as increased glide time and increased instances of helpful animals you can ride for portions of the level, and utilities like extra lives and the ability to temporarily bounce off water. These helpful upgrades are quite fun to attain, but be warned that you can spend a very, very long time earning a sufficient quantity of bananas to pay for even the cheaper ones. This makes the game a bit of a grind at the best of times.
When it comes down to it, the gameplay of Banana Kong isn't anything revolutionary. In fact, it isn't even close to being original in the slightest. There are many other games that offer more variation in their gameplay such as Ski Safari (even the flash Ski Safari has more to offer than Banana Kong in terms of originality), whilst Banana Kong seems quite content with offering a typical barebones-format endless running game with "unique" additions that are far from original. The upgrades, achievements, and transition between treetops and caves are really the minimum you would expect from an endless running game. The only truly unique thing about this game is that it has a lot of similarities with Donkey Kong Country, which isn't enough to save it from being barely mediocre in terms of endless running games. Still, the game does have a lot of potential, and developers FDG Entertainment certainly have the power to make the sequel a much better title than the original that at most can be described as "ok". Hopefully, the developers will listen to pages that offer Banana Kong 2 game discussion and take note of the improvements that fans wish to see included in the sequel.