The Many Faces of  . . . Jungle King / Jungle Hunt

by Alan Hewston

 

Artwork by C. Kenyou, - artistic license indeed as Dashly makes a 1 handed grab of a HOT! pot – with Lady P. inside!!

 Welcome to my 25th Many Faces of review (now up to 130 “Faces”).

If you didn’t see, hear, and play Tarzan, er uh “Jungle King” early on in 1982, you may never see it again – being that it was quickly replaced at all arcades.  This was probably the second arcade game involved in a lawsuit (after “Donkey Kong”), and definitely the first to lose.   I’m not sure what the monetary terms were or why the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate did not allow Taito to keep the game as is, and share in the profits.  Not to mention possible arcade sequels and then one can only wonder how much more they lost from the home versions!?!   AFAICT no other Tarzan arcade games came out, and there was only one home licensed, classic era game, “Tarzan” for the CV.  I wonder if Taito even tried to get a license?  Perhaps some things are more important than money, at least as far as the Burrough’s estate was concerned, or maybe they just were not ready for video games – so let’s describe the facelift below.

“Jungle Hunt”, the replacement game was pretty much the same, but gone was it’s claim to fame – the realistic Tarzan yell that drew a crowd.  Likewise, replaced were all the graphics both electronically and on the arcade cabinet.  Taito was forced to swap the circuit boards, the marquees and stickers on every machine at the arcades.  The lord of the jungle, as represented by a loin-cloth clad stud, was replaced by an British chap wearing a pith helmet and safari gear.  ‘I say old man, have you seen my lady?’  The game now starred Sir Dudly Dashly (as Atarisoft called him) who performed exactly like his protégé, but he now swung on ropes instead of vines.  Confused fans longed for “Jungle King” and some wanted the yell or nothing at all.  Still the early success of “King” was enough to bring the “Hunt” home so that we can bring you the many faces as “Jungle Hunt”. 

The manuals tell us that a safari hunter’s wife is planned as “soup de jour” for some cannibals, thus he must go on the ”Hunt” to find her.  The 4 scenes are: Forest (swing on vines/ropes), River (swim the crocodile infested river), Rocks (uphill climb of an avalanche-plagued mountain side), and finally Natives (rescue of Lady Penelope Dashly).  After the final scene, where you leap over 2 cannibals and by touching Lady P. set her free, you began the entire “Hunt” all over again.  Each time with a more difficult pace, and/or added crocs & rocks, plus a monkey or 2 patrol your vines. 

Arcade:  Taito 1982 Jungle King, then re-released/modified as Jungle Hunt – also 1982

Home Versions (all by Atari/Atarisoft, so almost no programmers credits):  (1983 versions) Atari 2600, Atari 8 bit, 5200, Commodore 64, TI-99 (Jim Dramis & Paul Urbanus), and Colecovision.  (1984 versions) Vic 20  & Apple II (Ivan Manley).

Categories:  Gameplay, Addictiveness, Graphics, Sound & Controls 



An unexpected, but well timed find at CCAG2K2 – “Jungle Hunt” the Board Game.

The home versions offer most of these gameplay elements and options:  a demo of each scene; keeps track of both your current score(s) & the high score; a pause; 3 difficulty levels; 500 second timer; monkeys on the vines (in later rounds); a variety of crocodile activity and aggressiveness; air meter and its audio clues; the Murk (bubbles) which slow Dudley; a quick way to reset and play again;  “Jungle Hunt” theme music before/after the game; brief musical interludes transitioning between scenes.  Only a few versions have the river’s current and/or the effects of gravity while running uphill - pushing to the right against you.  The laws of physics are surely violated on all versions for both swinging on for pushing off the vines.  A couple versions are particularly bad and stray from the norm.  Some noticeable differences that do not effect my ratings are: number of lives (most are 6/3/3 for dif levels 1/2/3; displaying points earned by defeating crocodiles or evading boulders; and poor transitions/glitches when scenes end (like a vine above the river, or no river).  One important restriction – an invisible barrier on scenes 2 & 3 is inconsistent between versions.  Dudley cannot jump, swim or move Left of this barrier. The “Gameplay” or “Addictiveness” scores suffer when the barrier is small, like 50% on the river or 60% on the hill.  With 60% & 80% respectfully, you have maneuverability.  Regardless, you had better learn where these limits are, and how they impact you.  Finally, how often do you see someone keep a pith helmet on while swimming, or wield a flesh colored knife, or finally shed clothes that reappear later – stay tuned. 

Have Nots: Vic 20 (36)
A far cry or yell from the arcade’s quality, but this 16K cart is one of the better games on the Vic. I put this one first (ie last), as many of you would expect it here – but note that it’s tied for last.  The “Gameplay” is impressive (8) to say the least.  It’s really playable and only one of 3 systems that has the river current.  All the options and features are here, but then the physics are annoyingly bad and the vines are slow.  The “Addictiveness” is respectable (6), but the worst.  The barrier is at 50% & 60% (booh hiss), but eventually the “Graphics” will turn you off.  The “Graphics” are mediocre (5), and surely detract from the game.  They tried too hard to use more graphics and colors – net result – adding more “bad” graphics makes things even worse.  Keeping it simple like the 2600 and using colors that do not clash would have been better.  It’s more animated than most, but you can easily miss this with your soon to be sore eyes.  Try this version, if for no other reason to see how quickly Dudley can go from running to a complete splat on the pavement (oops, actually him ducking).  Wow - that must hurt.  The “Sound” (7) is very good – with the effects all there – just nothing great.  The Vic 20 vine scene is one of only 2 scenes (of 32 reviewed) having a musical score throughout.  The “Controls” are perfect (10) using a standard Atari controller.  Upon rescuing the blob (I mean Lady P.), a text message spells out CONGRATULATIONS! 

Have Nots:  TI-99 (36)
Beware, the manual says that “Jungle Hunt” is not compatible with OS 2.2.  After an initial look, I was excited by its graphics.  But,

I came to realize that this was a watered down version - and as they say, looks are not everything.  The “Graphics” are pretty good (7), and it’s best feature, but nothing special.  There were some corners cut, like using fewer colors for simplicity, leading to the flesh-colored knife.  Also glitches like a vine over the river and you cannot jump off the vines right away.  The “Gameplay” is good enough (6), but is missing or has poorly done elements – such as:  no monkeys, no bubbles (the Murk), no scores for crocs & rocks, all crocs always move in a straight line, and there is no ducking – just leap over the big boulders.  The “Addictiveness” is very good (7), but you may play far longer than you expected  – to rescue Lady P.  It is somewhat challenging.  The vines are too difficult, possibly making up for the easy crocodiles on the river scene.  The barriers are at 70% & 70% giving you full movement here and no frustration.  Finding the [P] key in an instant  - in order to pause is pitiful.  Space Bar please!  Fortunately the un-pause is any key or stick movement.  The “Sound” is OK (6) at best.  The effects are mostly there, but poor, and there’s no “Jungle Hunt” theme music or any transition music anywhere.  The “Controls” are perfect (10) if using a standard Atari controller. I assume that bootleg disk copies exist if you cannot find the somewhat uncommon cart. 

Have Nots: Atari 2600 (36)
Also tied for last, this is probably the home version classic gamers have played the most.  Fortunately better versions continued to come out.  The “Gameplay” is very good (7) and would be complete, save for missing monkeys, and no uphill climb. Sir Dashly leaps from the vines with superhuman prowess - pushing off with such incredible force so as to defy the laws of physics (well . . . more so than the others).  The crocs are more aggressive & deadly than on other versions and must be completely evaded or defeated.  The scene 2/3 barrier is about 50% & 50% – yuck!  The 2600 provides the realism of the river current, and gravity when going uphill.  Uphill?!?  How bizarre! This is the only version that you do NOT climb uphill versus the boulders – just horizontally - yet there is gravity.   Points are shown for killing the crocodiles, but not for evading boulders.  The natives (cannibals) are split into two screens, with one on each.  Their dancing style is unique to the 2600, and speaking of dancing . . . after you rescue Lady P. (who must have escaped her pot – since she is just standing there waiting), together you celebrate (maybe working on Jungle Hunt Jr?) for a few seconds.  Somehow Atari packed-in about 7 seconds of demo of each scene. The scenes have poor or no transitions, and the game gets really hard, by level 2.  Oh yes, and there are only 2 levels of difficulty.  The “Addictiveness” (7) is cool - lagging behind the others due to no pause and fewer options/elements. The “Graphics” are respectable (6) for the 2600 - very colorful indeed, yet simple.  The lack of sufficient color shows us Dudley using his flesh colored knife – but think about the time wasted making that title screen.  The “Sound“ is decent (6), with limited music but comes complete with all (albeit silly) effects.  The “Controls” are perfect (10) using a standard Atari controller. 

Have Nots: Colecovision (41)
The arrival of the A2, marks only twice in 15 showings that the CV does not medal (River Raid the other).  And just like RR, the “Graphics” are a let down, but still effective (7).  Dudley is well animated, but blame Atarisoft this time for yet another arcade port that did not fully exploit the CV graphic capabilities – using instead single or simple colored characters (like Dudley and his flesh colored hat & knife).  The “Gameplay” is nice (8), and includes the river’s current, plus a unique feature, whereby the further Left on scenes 2 & 3 the faster the action.  This would have given the CV the most complete “Gameplay”, but alas, there is no Murk (bubbles) and no monkeys on the vines.  The manual mentions the monkeys, but I was not able to find any on level 3 after many tries – did I mention that the CV manuals have been wrong before.  The barrier is at 70% & 60% providing adequate maneuver room, but no points were displayed for crocs & rocks and somehow, there is no demo.  I only took one point away for all of this, as some is not important, and the manual may be right.  The crocs are much too easy to defeat and without the Murk, make the River a boring scene.  The “Addictiveness” is still enjoyable (8), and the pause [#] is easy to use.  Normally I do not give the CV credit for both perfect (10) “Controls” and a pause (helps “Addictiveness”), but in this case the CV controllers adequately handle the task at hand – plus the pause.  An Atari controller should not be used if you want to pause, but you can enjoy watching Dudley go from an uphill run to a duck on all fours, and way cooler looking than the Vic 20 splat.  The “Sound” is impressive (8) including all the effects and all the transition music, plus some music throughout the final scene.  The cart is fairly rare, but not enough to DQ it.  Fortunately there were 3+ at PC3 making this article possible - also it may still be available from Telegames. CV fans fear not, this game is really just about as good as the winners, but with cartoonish graphics.
 

Silver Medal: Atari 5200 (42)
This time the 5200 is really identical to it’s 8 bit cousin.  The only minor differences (that I could find) are no demo mode, and the obvious difference in pause button [Pause].  A perfect (10) in “Controls” will require a Wico stick or better (Masterplay Interface).  This 5200 port is reported to be track ball compatible.
 

Silver Medal: Atari 8 bit (42)
The “Gameplay” is very nice (8), and would be complete if it had the river current.  The “Addictiveness” is enjoyable (8), possibly the best, and includes an easy to use pause [space bar].  The “Graphics” are typical of Atari 8 bit, nice (8), a bit larger than most, but could have been better.  Again, blame Atarisoft – dooh this IS the Atari version – oh well.  This version wins the award for the pith helmet looking the most like a bicycle helmet.  Gotta love how in every version the helmets stay on by hill or high water.  The “Sound” is pleasant (8), and of special interest is the monkey alert (different on each version) telling you that a monkey is there – or that (ha ha) you just leaped onto one.  The “Controls” are perfect (10) using a standard Atari controller.  I did not determine if keyboard control is available.  Overall, consider this version just a good as the winner.  The cart is not rare, but it should be easy to locate a disk copy.  Oh yes, hit the space bar to watch the demo. 

Silver Medal: Apple 2 (42)
Finally an Apple II review by me, and maybe one of the better Atarisoft titles to boot.  I hope to review several of the Apple 2 Faces missed along the way, and dedicate an article just for those A2 games.  The “Gameplay” is nice (8) and is the best, including all the needed elements and options – including the river current.  Scenes 2 & 3 allow movement over an impressive 70% & 80% of the screen!  There are some minor drawbacks that combined take away a potential point: there’s a poor or no transition between any scenes; each death is interrupted by a brief flash (an all red screen), then proceed with his death [the TI also has this red flash on scene 2 - just let him die]; the game is also slowed down (a miniscule 5 seconds) accessing the drive between scenes.  The “Addictiveness” is enjoyable (8) and will bring you back a few more times on your quest to save Pippi Longstocking!  That’s right. Lady P. has 2 red pig tails and a polka dot dress.  Unfortunately this A2 newbie may have taken away the gold medal because I found no way to reset the game so as to play again with different options (other than rebooting), or to start over (other than killing off the remaining lives).  This is frustrating when playing a lot, so please correct me if I am wrong.  Fortunately, the pause is the easy to reach [Escape] key.  The “Graphics” are great (9) and equal the C64.  I’ve only briefly looked at other Atarisoft titles, and it looks like I began with a good one here.  Others titles appear to have really cheap graphics. Maybe that explains the 1984 copyright – took their time here to win a medal J.  The “Sound” is a mixed bag, overall scoring very good (7).  The effects are all there, but definitely different/tinny sounding, coming from inside the machine and not from the monitor.  This brings back those memories of why my parents and I decided on the C64 in the early 80’s.  [Not sure why we passed on Atari – other than $$].   The music is well done but only at the start and end of each game, not during transitions.  If anything sounds annoying, it can all be toggled off.  The “Controls” are perfect (10).  Took me a little while to get used to the analog stick & second fire button – for ducking boulders. Ducking is now awkward, but leaves less chance of error, and only used a couple times per each level.  As is often included on A2 games, the keyboard may also be used to achieve full control.  Not having any cartridge slots, the disk version is all that exists for all Apple II software. Apple fans should enjoy this debut and hopefully give me some positive feedback – or trash me – whichever.
 

Gold Medal:  Commodore 64 (43)
Yet another close race from the big 3 (well I guess 4 now). The “Gameplay” is not the best, but complete save for the river current, and otherwise impressive (8).  The demo only shows up after playing a game, but all play options are included and the barrier is at 60% & 80%.  The “Addictiveness” is enjoyable (8), and about as good as it gets.  It’s not like there is something to keep you coming back, like a different heroine, or new enemies added every level, and have the game only gradually gets harder – but we could dream about this in Jungle Hunt 2K2. The easy to use [space bar] works the pause.  The “Graphics” are wonderful (9), using high resolution where possible (like the beautiful coral) and multicolors galore, but without making anything hard to see or play.  This alone is the reason it wins the top billing amongst a pack of 5.  As is the case elsewhere, Dudley’s attire mysteriously changes (like losing his shirt and changing pants) from scene to scene, but his arms and legs are well animated at all times.  The “Sound” effects, musical score and transition music are all there and pleasant (8).  The “Controls” are perfect (10) using a standard Atari controller. I did not determine if keyboard control is available.  The cart is not rare, but it should be easy to locate a disk copy. Yes, lady Penelope is quite the babe on several of these medal-winning entries.  Look for her in the demos – don’t wait for the movie. 

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