Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness, and Bananas Review
Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness, and Bananas is a PlayStation Vita rhythm game by developer Disco Pixel, revolving around warring tribes of monkeys. Yes, there is also a plot about the monkey tribes that is developed between stages with minor cut scenes. However, the focus (as it is with most rhythm games) is on gameplay, and that’s where Jungle Rumble excels.
The player must sync up to a 4/4 metronome count (of variable tempo) to move their monkey around the game map, evade enemy monkeys, and pick up coconuts to use as ammunition. Different patterns of tapping have different functions and they result in simplistic beats. The musicality of Jungle Rumble isn’t terribly advanced but takes a few minutes of getting used to. After a few stages, even someone with my terrible sense of rhythm is able to get into the groove and chain movements/actions together. The ultimate goal of each level being to reach the bananas on the other side of the map, dispatch all red monkeys or both. The goal is straightforward and so is the gameplay for the most part.
As the player advances through stages, the map layouts and enemies evolve to force the player to alter their strategies. For example, red monkeys from the first level tend to move in a preset pattern while red monkeys in the second level (I should mention each level is made up of several stages) will react to the movement of your own monkeys, and can take out monkeys you have grouped together, which makes them more dangerous. Evolving enemies coupled with interesting map layouts and the introduction of new moves for your own tribe means you have to think carefully about how to approach each stage. The achievement (or should I say trophy) hunter in me wanted to replay stages where I got a bronze or silver for taking too long or losing too many of my monkey comrades.
The visuals are well done and add to the aura of lighthearted fun that Jungle Rumble seems to strive for. There are a lot of nice touches such as the color palette changing between levels to keep them distinct, and jokes being displayed with the loading bar (I think I caught an Arrested Development reference in there). The well-executed visual design of the game can be compared to the gameplay as it doesn’t overcomplicate things. Monkeys look like silly monkeys, trees look like trees, Juba Sage looks like what you might expect a monkey named Juba Sage to look like, etc… it keeps things whimsical while maintaining a clear aesthetic.
Jungle Rumble is a game that’s meant to be fun, entertaining, and at times challenging but most of all it’s a game that’s meant to be played. The joy of the game is in its art style, its sense of humor and mildly addicting gameplay. Considering that mobile games have mostly devolved into Candy Crush Saga (or whatever Facebook games the kids are playing on their phones these days) this is a refreshing change of pace for a game to take on the road. The asking price is very reasonable and definitely worth it, and it’s well suited for the Vita; Jungle Rumble is the type of game where you might play through several stages while waiting for the bus. A word of warning though, you’re going to want headphones; that is unless you don’t mind ghetto-blasting monkey sounds and drum beats at those in the vicinity.
- + Solid Gameplay
- + Pleasing Art Design
- + Juba Sage