Review: Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness, and Bananas (PSV)

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Title: Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness, and Bananas
Format: PlayStation Network Download (247 MB)
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Disco Pixel
Developer: Disco Pixel
Original MSRP: $4.99
ESRB Rating: E
Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness, and Bananas is exclusive to PlayStation Vita.
The PlayStation Vita download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
In Jungle Rumble, an enemy monkey clan has invaded your forest and is stealing your bananas. It’s up to you to try to get rid of them. To that end, you must control your friendly monkeys telling them where to go and commanding them to throw coconuts at the other clan. However the twist is that you can’t directly control the monkeys, instead you must drum out your commands in time with the music.

If it sounds like Patapon, that’s because the core mechanic is incredibly similar. The friendly monkeys respond only to specific commands. For example, tapping 1-2-1-2 between the monkey’s current location and another location will command that monkey to move to that location. Or tapping 1-1-1-2 orders them to throw coconuts if they have them. However, all of the tapping must be done in time with the music. Keeping up the commands and staying on time become key to completing the levels with the highest rank. Building a combo of successive commands allows multiple monkeys to move or attack at once so thinking quickly and having a good strategy to play with becomes important. The only downside is that enemy movements are generally the same between attempts so the game can come down to more of a puzzle/memorization game than a strategy game.

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In typical mobile game fashion, and make no mistake this is a mobile game, the levels themselves are pretty short – just a few minutes long at most. Completing a level gives a ranking based on whether the level was completed quickly, if all enemy monkeys were defeated, and if all ally monkeys survived. Trying for a gold medal by passing all three criteria adds a bit of replay to the game which is nice because it’s overall pretty short.

… everything in the game bounces in time to the music …

It’s hard to ask for too much from a five dollar game but overall Jungle Rumble didn’t do much for me. Midway through the game there is a new mechanic added but overall it feels a little shallow. The hit detection occasionally feels a little wonky and sometimes it can be really hard to get back on track if you make even a small mistake. Add those all up and I found myself getting bored pretty quickly and even the silly cutscenes sprinkled in weren’t enough to really keep my interest.

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Visuals:
The graphics are very simple, mostly just flat sprites with some limited animations. However Jungle Rumble’s backgrounds are colorful and everything in the game bounces in time to the music so it actually does look pretty good in motion. If I had one complaint it would be that the auto-scrolling background. The screen will usually scroll a little faster if ally monkeys make it to the top of the screen but there can still sometimes be enemy monkeys hiding off screen if the ally monkeys are too quick for the scrolling.

Audio:
Music, of course, plays a pretty big role in Jungle Rumble. The songs are all percussion only but they’re actually pretty interesting to listen to for the most part. One or two stinkers were a little annoying to me and there were a few songs that were a little difficult to discern the beat for which is detrimental to the gameplay. Still, it’s overall fun to listen to while playing which is a big plus for a game like this.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

Conclusion:
As a value proposition, Jungle Rumble doesn’t come off too bad. The asking price is low enough and the central mechanic interesting enough that I’d be willing to recommend the game to the right player. The right player being someone who wants something they can easily play in short bursts. However, as a game overall Jungle Rumble is also pretty short and forgettable so those looking for a meatier Vita experience may burn through this faster and find themselves leaving to monkey around in some other game.

Score:
6.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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