At the Turn of the Millennium, video game creators Nintendo and Rare were at a parting of ways. After years of cooperating on hit franchises like Killer Instinct, Banjo-Kazooie, and of course, the Donkey Kong Country games, Nintendo, having acquired a large part of Rare's assets, had the chance of buying out the company once and for all. They chose not to, selling Rare's services to Microsoft instead. Thus Donkey Kong was left largely adrift and directionless.
Without any more Country games to come in the future (or so it seemed at the time), Nintendo made an effort to distance the character from Rare's stint with him. Since Rare had distanced him so much from his roots at the arcade, it felt illogical to return to the barrel-rolling, ladder-climbing, girder-grappling days of yore. So they made two offbeat games starring the character. One was a platform game, similar to Donkey Kong Country: Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. The other was a rhythm game you play with actual drums.
Donkey Konga is a rhythm game you play using the GameCube bongo controller, literally a contact-sensitive controller shaped to resemble a set of bongo drums. You strike the correct drum at the correct time as depicted on the screen, to the tune of public domain music, old-school Nintendo themes, and some songs by popular artists such as Willie Nelson and Devo. The game sold well enough in Japan to warrant a pair of sequels, but in the west, it was poorly regarded and flew largely under the radar, leaving Donkey Konga 3 unreleased in the West.
This game features examples of:
- Bowdlerise: Some of the songs in Donkey Konga 2 came heavily under this, since the originals had cuss words.
- Cel Shading
- Color-Coded Multiplayer: An unusual order of colors in this series. The order being green, yellow, red, and blue based on controller port.
- Darker and Edgier: The second installment featured a T-rating with more songs from modern hip-hop culture, along with tunes with sadder tones and alcohol references. Definitely a step up from the first game, which mostly used public domain children's songs mixed with Nintendo's own musical library.
- Excuse Plot: The Kongs (specifically Donkey and Diddy) want to become big bongo stars so they can afford all the bananas they can eat.
- In Name Only: The North American tracklist of Donkey Konga 2 contains no tracks related to Donkey Kong, Nintendo, or video game music other than the game's own opening theme. While the series in general was essentially Taiko no Tatsujin with DK Bongos, the Japanese releases consistently paid nods to Nintendo's music, including their various anime openings, and even the NA release of the original Donkey Konga included the 4Kids Entertainment opening themes as a regional substitute. The European release of the first two games do both include video game music tracks, however.
- The Power of Rock
- Retraux: The third game includes the theme from the original Donkey Konga done in 8-bit style.
- Rhythm Game
- Shave And A Haircut: The song for the juggling minigame is "Turkey and the Straw", but ends with Shave and a Haircut.