The PlayStation Vita is home to some great rhythm based games such as Hatsune Miku Project DIVA f 2nd, Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit, Orgarhythm, and DJMax Technika Tune. Sadly, I cannot say that Jungle Rumble belongs on that list.
Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas is a port of the popular smartphone game that was released in 2014 on iOS and Android. You take control of a Spirit that controls the Mofongo tribe through the game’s three worlds. The premise is simple: collect bananas, knock out red monkeys, and do it quickly to get that shiny gold medal.
As the Spirit, you are to tap the touchscreen to the beat of a drum in order to move across branches, throw coconuts or jump over the enemy. That sounds simple, right? Everything sounds simple on paper, but once you get to it, the game becomes a mess of wrong presses, inconsistent beats and frustration. Oh, by the way – you need to hold your Vita like a smartphone in order to play this game, which can be cumbersome and uncomfortable.
When starting the game, Jungle Rumble offers the suggestion to play with headphones for a better experience. At that point, I was eager to see that if it was true – but sad to say that it didn’t turn out to be (at least for me).
There was nothing special about the music and the sound effects didn’t even match up to the beat of the drum, which I found completely annoying. Midway through the game, I even ended up just lowering the volume on my Vita and it didn’t help or diminish my ability in the game.
That said, the biggest frustration and downfall of Jungle Rumble is the unresponsive controls. You are to follow and tap to the drum beat and the pink flash outline in a pattern in order to move your monkey to where you want to go. Too bad that rarely works as advertised. I often found myself wanting to throw my Vita against the wall in frustration because the monkey wouldn’t move to where I wanted it to go, even though I followed the beat perfectly. This caused me to lose a monkey, a gold medal and some of my hair. Even the menu, replay and other buttons have input issues – which is a bit alarming to say the least.
The only bright spot in Jungle Rumble is the visuals. Being a port of a smartphone game it was never likely to tax the Vita graphically, but the game is definitely pretty to look at. It’s very colorful and all the areas are easy to distinguish, be it characters or destinations.
Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas started life as a smartphone game and it still feels like one on the Vita. While the game is fairly cheap at $4.99, it’s still hard to recommend as there are other games in that price range with more to offer and less annoying issues. For a game which is based on input and timing, this one has a long way to go in order to be properly playable.