IGNCube has Nintendo's March 2005 sales report and last month wasn't kind to Nintendo. In what has to be a disappointment to the company, the latest Donkey Kong title, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, sold only 39,000 units in its debut month. Compare that to Super Smash Bros. Melee, a GameCube launch title from several years ago, that outsold the big gorilla in March. It's understandable why gamers passed on the bongo-controlled game that is Jungle Beat: it's something unusual. Jungle Beat is part of Nintendo's new direction in gaming. The company has gone on record as stating that they want to bring innovation back to the video game world and take gaming in general in new directions. Unfortunately it would seem that the average consumer does not want to be a part of this concept.
A wise man with a missing Delta brainwave once said "Clever things make people feel stupid and unexpected things make them feel scared," and Jungle Beat is about as clever and unexpected as games come these days. After all, it's a total departure from the standard set of skills that gamers have spent years developing. There isn't any button mashing in Jungle Beat, nor are there wild control stick maneuvers. The controls involve beating on the bongo controller and clapping to move Donkey Kong through a side-scrolling platformer level (just like in the good 'ol days!). In theory it's so simple that anyone can pick it up and start playing, something that is another of Nintendo's new goals. The market has spoken, however, and it looks like the average gamer doesn't want bongo games. At least, not right now.
I urge Nintendo not to back down from their new direction. While other companies release new games with more of the same, Nintendo is willing to take the big chances. Jungle Beat is evidence of this. So are Yoshi Touch & Go, Nintendogs, and Electroplankton for the Nintendo DS. These games are not for everybody, but there is an audience out there for them. The world may not be ready for the likes of Jungle Beat this month, but like cult movies I believe that the game will eventually find an audience.
"As video games take their place as a primary entertainment option for all ages, both genders and every conceivable taste, Nintendo wants to be the leaders in sales and innovation. So don't worry -- as we expand our product line-up to match the expanding industry, we'll also continue to push the envelope to bring hardcore fans even bigger Nintendo adventures. And hopefully, a number of adventures they could have never imagined before they saw it play on a Nintendo system." - George Harrison, senior vice President of marketing, Nintendo of America