A Slippery Climb | Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas Vita Review
Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas is the latest rhythm game to grace Sony’s Playstation Vita, and while rhythm games have found success on Sony platforms, Jungle Rumble doesn’t make a strong case for playing on the handheld versus a smartphone.
In Jungle Rumble, you tap to the 4-measure beat to get your tribe, the Mofongo Tribe, to the bananas before the villainous Red tribe steals them. The survival of the Mofongo tribe depends on the bananas, as is expressly described in the animated scenes before a level, and failure will cause your tribe to parish. In other words, you’ll have to retry the level to secure your sustenance.
The story, not being the monumental driving force to partake in this rhythm based tap fest, is adequate enough. Although, it would be nice if there was a little more depth to it.
The game is deemed a rhythm-based puzzle. While the definition is accurate, it is quite sparse on both accounts. To move your Mofongo monkey, you simply tap back and forth from where you are and where you want to go, the last tap being your desired location. Eventually, you learn to throw coconuts at the dreaded Red Tribe by tapping three times on the coconut you are standing on and once at the desired target. The game does a decent job of explaining the new mechanics, but the tutorials take far too much time for how simple they are. Strangely enough, with touch being the only available control option, there were times where my tap didn’t register, leading me to have to start the game over. This did only happen a handful of times, but in a rhythm game, even a time or two is aggravating.
As for the puzzles, unlike many rhythm games, it’s not about tapping incessantly. There will be sections where you have to stop and wait for the Red monkeys to hop on by so you can get past them. But in the majority of cases, you can just fly right by them.
So where does the game try to get its hooks into you? That’s with the often used medal mechanic. Similar to just about every other game on iOS/Android, you are judged based upon how you perform in three key areas with a gold, silver or bronze medal. Your medal is based on how many Mufongo you picked up along the way, how many of the Red monkeys you knocked out with coconuts and your time. But in this case, the time amounts more so to the amount of moves used versus that of actual time taken to get to the end of the level. The game is fairly generous in giving out gold medals, and it isn’t until the latter stages where you have to start strategizing your moves. But the game doesn’t real have that strong pull like most rhythm based games.
I never found myself wanting to go back and achieve better medals; it could be partially due to the fact that I didn’t feel like waiting for it to load. But, what was most irksome was holding the Vita portrait-style. Yes, it does make sense as climbing a tree horizontally would be strange, it just feels awkward to hold. The novelty was just that at first, but as I progressed through the game, it was just tiresome. And forget about playing while plugged in as it’s impossible to hold in the required orientation with any comfort.
The game’s aesthetic is exactly the opposite of what plagues most games; this game is extremely colorful and features some really nice backgrounds. To its credit, it does feel very forest-y with its art. It’s a shame the soundtrack kind of drones on as you go through the levels, as it could have been a nice compliment to the art style.
Reviewed on Playstation Vita (also available on iOS and Android Devices).
We also reviewed the iOS version of the game which can be viewed here.