Review by Retro

"An innovative damsel in distress game that came before Mario & Toadstool"

Sir Dudley Dashley's wife, Lady Penelope Dashley, has been kidnapped. As you might guess, it's up to Mr. Dashley to do all he can to rescue her. Soon, Sir Dudley Dashley came in contact with a letter that states that a group of Cannibals are planning to cook his wife into an Englishwoman broth, and then eat her as a soup (nasty).

Directly from the instruction booklet: Directions to today's meal are as follows: Take eleven vines through the deadly forest, turn right into Reptile River, go past fourteen crocodiles and emerge on the edge of the boulder field until you reach Cannibal Camp. Jump past the two guards (watch out for spear tips), turn left, and...you're there! Bon Appetit!

There are four different types of levels in Jungle Hunt, and they get progressively tougher the further you get into this ever-so-short adventure. In the first stage, you just have to make Dudley jump from vine to vine. There are eleven swinging vines with varying swinging speeds. Some of them are swinging from left to right as if they're trying to shake off relentless leaf-cutter ants, and others are so slow you might mistaken them for a goofy looking snail. Nonetheless, this level, Deadly Forest, is real easy even if you don't time your jumps at all.

Once you reach the last vine, it's time to go for a little swim with the crocodiles in Reptile River. I guess Dudley got tired of doing a Tarzan impression and now he wants to be just like the Crocodile Hunter. In Reptile River, you'll be swimming left the entire time in a river that is full of the scaly creatures. While making your way through the expedition in the river, you will have to dodge or stab several alligators that are swimming straight at you. Most of these fearsome reptiles move up and down and snap their teeth, but others don't move much at all.

If you're in a brave mood, you can go right up to the crocodile's mouth and press the button. If you time it right, that brute will wish he hadn't have ever seen you. Not only are there deadly beasts of the sea to look out for, but you must remember that you're controlling a man and not a fish. Since you have the weakness of owning lungs instead of gills, you can drown if you remain submerged in the deep waters for too long.

There is a graph right above the water entitled ''Diving.'' It has a few circles in it that represent your air supply. If it runs out, you'll lose a life faster than you can say choke. To replenish your oxygen, just go to the top of the water. After about two or three minutes of constant swimming, you'll get to the end of Reptile River and be able to say ''See you later alligators.'' Then it's time to up the challenge tenfold and proceed to the next level.

The third stage, Boulder Field, is very challenging. This time, Dudley wants to do an impression of Indiana Jones. At the start of the level, small rocks will be tumbling and skipping toward you. A few seconds later, a bunch of large, springy boulders begin to turn their rock hard sights toward way. You can either jump over the rocks or duck under them while they're in the air. This is easier said than done, because if any rock even barely brushes against you, you will be flattened so flat that you would be the talk of the town in the world of pancakes; and you'll also lose a life.

If you're good enough and fortunate enough to make it past all the pebbles and boulders, you'll get to challenge the fourth and final stage, Cannibal Camp. This camp features a couple of cannibals that have been listening to Van Halen's ''Jump'' a bit too much. These spear-holding savages jump in a pattern from left to right and they also leap pretty high. You'll need to bring along some of your best timing to get past them because this is, without a doubt, the hardest part of the game. Part of this reason could be that you have to journey to the left, instead of the usual right like you see in the majority of other games, especially platformers.

If you successfully jump over both of the cannibals, Dudley will find his captured wife, Penelope, and they will live happily ever after (hey, neat, there's actually an ending to this game!). That is, until one of the ferocious cannibals capture her again in just a few seconds.

Jungle Hunt definitely has some of the best graphics of any Atari 2600 game. It has a vibrant array of colors, and the characters, with the exception of the alligators, have a good bit of detail. The jungle backgrounds with lush forest are especially well done. The scrolling water is also a nice touch. Dudley needs to take a break from the sun rays that abound in the jungles, though, cause his skin is pink!

Like the visuals, Jungle Hunt's sounds are well done for the most part. Jumping from vine to vine sounds off a cheerful beep. I especially like the music tunes, such as the opening tune for each level, the constant sound of swimming, and especially Cannibal Camp's short and catchy track. There's just one sound that sticks out as being a thorn in the side of Jungle Hunt's great audio collection. The sound it makes while Sir Dudley is at the top of the water filling up on oxygen in Reptile River is extremely horrid. But this is only one sound out of at least ten.

The controls contain a mixture of both good and bad qualities. It's somewhat hard to get used to the way Dudley jumps in the boulder and cannibal levels because he seems to jump in slow motion. But it's not impossible to get used to the jumping ways of the pink guy after a few tries. The rest of the controls are fluid. In the vine jumping and swimming environments, the controls are simple.

Jungle Hunt is one of the more innovative titles for the Atari 2600. It features four different kinds of stages with four separate challenges, which was truly great for the time (1983). While just one touch from a nemesis spells a tragic death, and even though there are no extra lives or continues to be unearthed, the game has a good balance of difficulty.

I've played better and worse games for the system than Jungle Hunt. It has some of the best graphics ever for an Atari 2600 cart; it has great sounds and music, and it can become just a bit addicting. Jungle Hunt does have a few things in it that you don't usually see in an Atari 2600 title, such as the fact that you run left instead of right, and an ending. Both of those characteristics put together equals an innovative and worthy title to own for the 2600.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 05/06/01, Updated 03/23/03


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