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And a drum roll, please ...

Times Staff Writer

Dig that crazy beat, man.

In the latest offering in a rich history of "alternative controllers" (remember R.O.B., that strange little robot that moved blue and red spinning tops from one place to another for the NES?), Nintendo gives us the wildly original Donkey Konga, in which bongo drums are your controllers.

Who would have thought this would work so successfully?

Select one of 33 cover-band versions of songs, such as the easy "We Will Rock You" or the more complicated "What I Like About You," choose the level of difficulty (monkey, chimp or gorilla), and get banging. When a yellow barrel rolls into your target, hit the left side; a red barrel, the right side; pink for both sides; and a little blue star requires a clap. (The bongos have a microphone that picks that up.) Get enough correct and you'll unlock more difficult songs and mini games that give you a taste of how much fun you'll have using the bongos to control Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, coming early next year.

For a really good time, pick up a few more extra controllers and join three of your friends in bongo-pounding mayhem.

Details: GameCube platform; $49.99 (extra bongo controller sold separately for $29.99); rated: everyone (comic mischief). * Gives you the creeps

Like an extra creepy version of "Being John Malkovich," poor Henry Townshend is trapped in his small third-floor apartment with only a strange bathroom portal as the way out. Only in Silent Hill 4: The Room, this gateway doesn't take Henry inside the actor's mind, it takes him to a disgusting nightmare complete with floating zombies, demon dogs and sludge monsters.

Though the graphics are markedly better than its predecessor, SH4 relies more on gore and less on horror-movie frights, and it requires more puzzle solving than fighting. Still, a good scare.

Details: PlayStation 2 and Xbox platforms; $39.99; rated: mature (blood, intense violence, sexual themes).


A really trivial pursuit

A robust blend of "Girls Gone Wild" and useless bar trivia, The Guy Game is perfect for the drunken frat boy in your life. Players answer trivia questions and guess if the "spring break hottie" in the intercut video clip gets the same question wrong. (Good news: The guy hosting the show is only mildly annoying!) Fill up your "flash-o-meter" and get an uncensored view of what's under her bikini top. Guess enough wrong and get insulted. Definitely not for feminists and not for the sane, but a decent diversion for the loser in all of us.

Details: PlayStation 2 and Xbox platforms; $39.99; rated: mature (crude humor, nudity, strong language, strong sexual content, use of alcohol). *

The fast and furious

The problem with most racing games that feature digital versions of real-life cars is that they don't ever wreck. Hit a wall going 139 mph, the cars fly up in the air and land, unscathed. Not so in the amazing Street Racing Syndicate. Here, real cars take real damage and need real repairs, with money out of your car upgrade budget. There is a variety of nonlinear challenges and racetracks offering all kinds of ways to get "fast and furious." Master your car control and garner the affections of one of 18 virtual "girlfriends," another great wrinkle in an already loaded game.

Details: All platforms; $49.99; rated: teen (language, mature sexual themes, simulated gambling).


A wireless disconnect

The new wireless racing wheel from Intec poses an existential question: What's the point of having a wireless controller that must be stationary to be used correctly? Though casual gamers will like the shifter levers on the steering column, serious racers will want to hold out for one that fights back like a real racer's steering wheel. The vibration function didn't even work during the crash-filled Burnout 3: Takedown.

Details: Available for PlayStation 2 and Xbox; $69.99.

For more video game coverage, visit latimes.com/videogames. For previous columns, or to e-mail Pete Metzger, visit latimes.com/gotgame.

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