Review by Donald Love 87
"Way ahead of it's time, with a lot of old-time flaws"
guess everybody knows about the old Disney movie version of the Rudyard Kipling book "The Jungle Book". This is the game version of that movie, and while some parts of it are interesting, I think (just like I said in the tagline) that some parts of it is way ahead of it's time, while it still is flawed by some things from the era.
It is mainly a platform game, but it's got the "collecting" thing going that became popular in games two generations afterwards. Unlike normal NES platformers, you won't have to get to the end of the level in order to finish it, but you have to find a certain number of diamonds (varies from 10 to 15) to get through. This would've been fine if it wasn't for one thing that's LIKE most NES platformers - the time limit. Even though there are power-ups to extend it, on some levels it's just too hard to find them and it leads to you running out of time before you've even had a chance to find all the diamonds. It feels kind of unfair, and the game would've been better off without the time limit.
The game consists of ten levels, and on every other there's a boss waiting for you when you've collected all the diamonds.
So overall I'd say that gameplay is ok, but a little flawed. The overall idea is good.
How good the graphics are varies much from level to level. It is kind of detailed for being a NES game, though that makes is a little hard to make out what's going on from time to time. Most of the enemies are pretty easy to see, while some blend in with background. Overall this is one of the better things in the game.
Also one of the better things in the game. Most of the songs is from the movie, and the conversation to the bit-music on the NES is quite impressive. Some songs are repeated over more than one level, though when it's this good it doesn't really matter.
Most sound effects are okey, though there are some that are pretty illogical. Still, sound is nothing that really bothers me with this game.
As I mentioned above, the game is based off Disney's version of "The Jungle Book". The game follows it pretty good, though it takes some liberties, like adding a tree village and also Baloo is, for some reason never explained, your enemy in one level (though in the next level he helps you).
The bosses I mentioned earlier are all from the movie, which is a good thing.
Ah, now we're at the part I need to talk about! This game is a platform game. A platform game needs a good way of controlling your character. It's the point where this game seriously has a problem. For an example - vines grow in the jungle. This game is set in the jungle. Vines + game = having to jump from vine to vine in a very Tarzan-esque way. The problem is that, and I haven't been able to figure out why yet, sometimes when you jump to grab a vine you just fly right past it and then falls either to your doom or to some serious backtracking to get back to the tree that you were in.
Another problem that you don't think much about during normal gameplay is that the controls are kind of random. There's a level in the game that features jumping from falling floor to falling floor, and it's really hard to do because of one thing - the controls. For some of the gaps you have to make a running jump, and the platform is just wide enough for you to gather speed. So if you've landed on the middle of the platform after the previous jump, the risk is high that you're going to fall to you doom. Ok, every platform game needs to have a "life eater" level, but good games let you know that any mistake you make is because you've done something the wrong way. Here, it's the controls fault when you miss a jump.
Another thing that's very strange with the controls is that jumping on most enemies should kill them. Of course, you can't jump on hedgehogs and such, that's common platform knowledge, but what about the monkeys? Sometimes it works, and sometimes you get hurt instead. It's a kind of strange feeling never knowing what's going to happen when you jump on an enemy.
Also, when you get hit by an enemy in the air, you just fall straight down. If there's no solid ground straight below, you're GOING to die. Very irritating.
Also, I'm not really sure where to put this, but I guess controls is a pretty good place for it... You've got different kinds of weapons you can use throughout the game. The main weapon (which you've got an unlimited supply of) is bananas. There are power-ups for "double bananas", that's like a banana but with the double power. "Boomerangs", that are what it sounds like, but even though it looks like it returns to you you don't get it back. "Nuts" I guess is meant to be some kind of blowpipe-like weapon. There's also a "Voodoo Mask" that's used to make you invincible.
The only weapons you're ever going to use is the normal bananas (everyday use) and nuts (for bosses). Double bananas just don't feel that necessary, boomerangs is flying to irregular, and the voodoo mask - nah.
Play time and replayability
Play time is pretty much depending on your ability to find those diamonds. If you're having problems, then you'll just run out of time and have to start all over again after using up your continues. If you can remember where they are (or if you use a walkthrough), then you'll be able to finish the game in 3 hours. I don't really think it's a game you'll want to play through again, at least not until a few years after your initial playthrough so you've had the time to forget a little about it.
The only thing as far as I can see that the developers put in there to add to the replayability is the item called the "shovel". One enemy in every level (except maybe the last) drops one, and at the end of the level it takes you to a bonus stage with a lot of extra items. The shovels are usually pretty easy to find though, and none of them requires that much of a detour from the diamond collecting to find.
As I've said before, this game consists of some good ideas that were executed poorly. Also, since the controls are such a big thing when it comes to platform games I have to judge heavily on that. After all, I'd rather play a platform game with good controls and bad graphics / sound than a platform game with bad controls and good graphics / sound - this is the latter.
Final verdict - 4/10. It's not that good, so it's not a game you should track down for you retro collection unless you are just a collector. It can be played, but you'll just feel relieved when it's over so that you can put it down and move to something better.
Reviewer's Rating: 2 - Poor
Originally Posted: 04/21/09
Game Release: The Jungle Book (EU, 08/25/94)
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