Game Reviews

Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas

Star onStar onStar onStar halfStar off
Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas

Monkeys are known for their love of all things percussive — Donkey Kong has his bongos; you’ll prise the maracas from Amigo’s cold, dead hands; and, um, there’s that gorilla smashing along to In The Air Tonight while advertising Cadbury’s chocolate.

Ape affinity for rhythm is just as well in Jungle Rumble’s leafy surrounds, because there’s no monkeying around — the law of this jungle isn’t so much ‘survival of the fittest’ as strictly defined by the clockwork limitations of a 4/4 beat.

From the off, your ape avatars leap between leaves, fend off evil red monkeys by lobbing coconuts at them, and secure all the bananas.

In order to move or chuck a weaponised fruit, you perform finger trickery to the relentless rhythm, tapping out patterns on your current leaf (1) and one that’s adjacent (2): 1-2-1-2 sees your ape leap to the relevant neighbouring spot; 1-1-1-2 has them chuck a coconut. After you do your thing, adversaries make their moves; rinse and repeat.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

As you progress, a slightly more complex ‘hot step’ manoeuvre is added to the mix, enabling you to more rapidly cover ground, and you learn about ‘monkey mojo’, which is earned by chaining perfect moves and enables you to advance several monkeys at once — handy when you have to deal with groups of aggressors.

That’s about it, though, and there’s a nagging feeling of shallowness when it dawns no more depth is forthcoming. Still, what’s there is polished, from the smart, vibrant graphics through to regular comic book scenes that provide insight into the invaders’ story and your apes’ quest for answers.

The reason for the red monkey incursion turns out to be a little obvious, but it makes the amusing (if brief) denouement no less satisfying, even if Jungle Rumble’s final moments are curiously abrupt.

Before that point, you’ll have worked your way through dozens of short levels and noticed a few things. Most notably, although this game seemingly seeks to mash-up rhythm-action and real-time strategy, it’s in fact more of a memory-test puzzler.

In order to secure a gold medal (think: three stars) on each stage, you must deal with all foes, bring all your monkeys along for the ride, and complete all objectives within a set number of moves.

Organ grinder

Perfect runs require a precision plan to be performed pretty much flawlessly, and finding solutions can be rewarding. However, it’s frustrating that the game doesn’t reveal how close you were to victory when dangling a silver medal in your face.

And that red-furred foes don’t signpost intentions until you’ve started tapping out your next rhythm can turn some levels into a kind of Groundhog Day, where you keep going until things go wrong, before trying again with slightly different tactics.

Occasionally, some technical issues also get in the way: the game’s responsiveness is sometimes questionable and it’s a touch fiddly on the iPhone, which is frustrating when some way into an otherwise perfect run on a lengthy auto-scrolling level.

Now and again, the rhythm to which you tap can throw you too (such as when leading with a snare, which is more typically used on off-beats) or be obfuscated by other noises.

That all said, the combination of pleasing (if slightly shallow) rhythm action, challenging (if occasionally unclear) puzzles, and irreverent humour should be enough to propel you through Jungle Rumble to its banana-fuelled and destructive conclusion.

Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas

A sweet-natured and appealing puzzler with a smattering of rhythm action. Entertaining but brief and a bit lacking in depth
Craig Grannell
Craig Grannell
Craig gets all confused with modern games systems with a million buttons, hence preferring the glass-surfaced delights of mobile devices. He spends much of his time swiping and tilting (sometimes actually with a device), and also mulling why no-one’s converted Cannon Fodder to iPad.