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Jungle Rumble Preview: Patapon with Monkeys
I got to try out the iOS rhythm game Jungle Rumble at PAX East this past weekend, and although the game still needs some polish, Disco Pixel’s title is shaping up into something that could be a fun, cute, casual addition to any gamer’s library.
Players control the Monfongo Tribe, a clan of black monkeys on a quest for freedom, happiness, and bananas. The levels I played acted as a tutorial and introduced some of the main gameplay elements of Jungle Rumble. The beginning levels start with one black monkey on one of several treetops. A catchy drumbeat is playing the background, and a rhythm counter at the top of the screen helps players tap the screen to the beat. By tapping a specific pattern on the treetops, the monkey will move to an adjacent spot. By using appropriate beats to move from one place to another and grabbing a bunch of bananas on the other side of the map, I move on to the next level.
As I progress, more complicated elements are introduced. The enemy clan, a tribe of red monkeys, is added, tasking me with taking them out before I can continue. By using the beat to move my tribe to a treetop with a bundle of coconuts, I have the opportunity to use a different tap pattern to throw them at the rival monkeys, taking them out. After doing this for a few levels and eventually fighting against moving opponents, the game-changer is finally added.
By chaining drumbeats together without pausing in between, monkeys gain mojo which is represented by swirling orbs of purple that surround my units. As the monkey I’m controlling gains more and more mojo, moving him to a treetop with allies allows them to become grouped into a single, powerful unit I can move together as one. By moving a group of five chained monkeys to a pile of coconuts, I can take out large groups of enemies at once with a single volley rather than pick them off one-by-one, thereby increasing my level completion time and score. The ability to chain requires constantly thinking ahead and correcting patterns for the movement of the red monkeys, something that could take awhile for players to master. This will undoubtedly add some replayability to the game.
While the music in the game is down pat, the art seems leaves something to be desired. I love the aesthetic design Disco Pixel went with, but certain transitional cutscenes, if they can be called that, feature out-of-place text and fuzzy, blown-up images. All of these isses can be easily fixed by the game’s release, however. The artistic direction Disco Pixel is taking with Jungle Rumble is fun and attractive, and I have no doubt the final product will look twice as good as the demo I played.
As far as gameplay goes, I feel like more variety couldn’t hurt. While I didn’t play through the entire demo, the 15 minutes or so of gameplay I did experience only featured two tap patterns (one to move and one to attack) and one enemy type. I feel like more tapping combinations to do different things, different enemies, or varying bonus levels with unique objectives would keep the game from going stale too quickly. It’s entirely possible Disco Pixel already has features such as these in the works.
In the end, I walked away from the booth after having some good, old, rhythm-based fun. The game feels like a monkey-themed Patapon, in art and objective, and that can’t be a bad thing. See for yourself what the game is like when it eventually releases for the iOS.