Soapbox features enable our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random stuff they’ve been chewing over. Today, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Donkey Konga in Japan, Ollie recounts how the game introduced him to a song that remains one of his all-time favourites…
I used to love watching Friends in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. I still do occasionally, though with so many different movies and TV shows vying for attention these days, I admittedly haven’t watched it all the way through for years (though the sad passing of Matthew Perry has got me planning another rewatch soon).
There was an episode in March 1998 in which Rachel throws an impromptu party so she can ultimately seduce a client she’d been pining for at work (‘The One With The Fake Party’). It was a genuinely great episode and a perfect example of what can be achieved with a simple premise.
What stood out to me when I first saw it, however, was a song playing in the background during the party. With its upbeat tempo, catchy saxophone melodies, and unusually gravelly vocals, I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor thinking, “Hey, I like that, what is it?” Unfortunately, artists like The Spice Girls, Natalie Imbruglia, and Celine Dion were dominating the UK charts at the time, and since we didn’t have internet in the home quite yet, finding out the name of the song and artist seemed an impossibility.
Given that I was only seven years old at the time, I quickly moved on to more important things, like collecting those all-important gems in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back on the PS1, so that episode of Friends and its intriguing background music faded away into my memory.
It wasn’t until six years later that I finally heard the song again. I borrowed a copy of Donkey Konga on the GameCube from a high school friend and became obsessed with it. I hadn’t played any rhythm games before its release (except for the obligatory Dance Dance Revolution sessions whenever my friends and I visited the local arcade) so, for me, it felt like a completely new video game experience, and I loved it.
The Western release of Donkey Konga contained a mix of covers and Nintendo music, with artists like Blink-182, Kylie Minogue, Willie Nelson, and Queen all making an appearance (albeit with some weird uncanny valley vocals). One of the songs was something I’d never heard of before by name, and that was ‘The Impression That I Get’ by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. When I started playing it, however, and those sax melodies dropped, the instant recognition hit me like a brick.
“That’s it! That’s the song!” I shouted to an empty room. I was floored and I didn’t even attempt to play along during that first session; I just listened in awe. When the shock subsided, I went right back to the start and played along. Then I did it again, and again, and again. I played through ‘The Impression That I Get’ so many times, I was able to complete it flawlessly on the game’s ‘Gorilla’ (hard) difficulty. In fact, I was even able to hold my own in the ‘Gorilla Jam’ setting, which removed the on-screen cues entirely.
I returned the game to my friend after I’d had my fill and I haven’t actually played Donkey Konga again since, but ‘The Impression That I Get’ remains a permanent fixture on my Spotify playlist. It’s such an upbeat, feel-good song, that I can’t help but smile and nod my head.
Although I can’t say that Donkey Konga ranks among my most-played games of all time, it’s a game that I’ll never forget thanks to the impression I got from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and their bouncy ska punk. It’s such a weird collaboration in hindsight, but it’s one for which I’m forever grateful.
Did you play Donkey Konga on the GameCube? Would you want to see the franchise return in some capacity for a fourth outing? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so be sure to leave a comment down below.
This story originally appeared on Nintendo Life