torstai 19. toukokuuta 2011

REVIEW - The Jungle Book (1993)

GENRE(S): Platform
DEVELOPER(S): Eurocom Entertainment Software (GB, GEN), Syrox Developments (GG, SMS), Virgin Interactive (NES, SNES)
PUBLISHER(S): Virgin Interactive, Disney Interactive (PC)

1993 was a very busy year when it came to Disney games. In the end of the year, Virgin Interactive published a game for the Sega Master System, that was based on the 1967 Walt Disney classic The Jungle Book. The game was received so well that once Virgin Interactive inherited the licensing rights to Disney games for Nintendo systems previously held by Capcom, the Master System title was ported to the Game Boy, the NES and the SNES, in addition to Sega's other platforms. The Jungle Book was received as a quality platformer, but many agreed that the golden era of Disney games was over with its release and Capcom's dismissal. They were more right than I would've expected.

Welcome to the jungle, we've got "fun" and games...

Mowgli is a young boy raised by wolves in the jungles of India. For years, he has lived with the animals, but now, he is forced to return to his fellow man because the tiger Shere Khan, a fearsome predator with a taste for humans, has returned to the jungle. Mowgli is guided back home by his mentor, the panther Bagheera, and a carefree bear by the name of Baloo.

Bare necASSities. Wonder why they the censors
let that pass and didn't replace it with something
like Christopher Lambert's face.
It's actually only been a couple of years since I saw The Jungle Book in its entirety for the first time. I was so psyched, because TaleSpin was one of my favourite syndicated cartoons when I was a kid, and three of the main characters in that show - Baloo, Louie and Shere Khan - originated from Disney's adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. After the film had ended, I stared at the empty screen, the DVD menu came back up, and about two minutes later I uttered the words "that's it?" The movie is one of the most overrated Disney flicks in my opinion. It lacks character depth and development, the humour's not that good, the music's intolerable as usual, and it's just a boring flick, plain and simple. It's like scene after scene after scene, without a real plot to tie it all together. Aside from Mowgli going home. I even forgot that halfway through the movie, it's so inconsistent. And they called The Aristocats a disappointment. How illogical. The Jungle Book remains one of my least favourite movies from the Disney Animated Classics series, the REAL one that stopped developing years ago, before Home on the Range, Chicken Little and all that crap. Well, then I played The Jungle Book on the SNES. While it does retain a vague atmospheric hint of what made Capcom's games, especially DuckTales and Aladdin so great, it isn't a great game, and it's strictly because of the gameplay.

The graphics are pretty good, but one can't help but to make an instant comparison to the last game based on a Disney movie, which was Aladdin by Capcom. It lacks the same fine edge, it's somewhat blurry and unfocused. Tunes from the movie play at a constant loop, and the sound effects are nothing less of deeply annoying.

I never believed I would come to this, comparing a 16-bit Disney platformer to a game I never thought to mention again. Some people instantly compare The Jungle Book to Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, which came out some time after the 16-bit versions of the Book. I couldn't agree less, the games only look the same. No, the game I'd compare The Jungle Book to is Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind. Those who have stuck around since the early days of this blog or read the backlogs, know damn well how much I hate that game. Whenever there's just some element I deeply hate about a game, I very often take the opportunity to mention Bubsy the Bobcat. I am downright saddened that this game brings back actual memories of Bubsy, not just vague references.

Yep, even those little birdies are lethal.
Well, at least The Jungle Book isn't about one-hit kills and you can't die by falling from great heights, but the things that stand out the most are that everything hurts you, and that your movement is ultra-fast and ultra-hectic. There's just no way to maintain full control in this game, that obnoxious jungle kid is one caffeine-soaked bastard that has serious problems with following commands to the end. He's acting like he's made of rubber. Jumping is once again the worst part of the nightmare. It's easy to overshoot your target and land on a set of spikes several ground levels below you. It's incredibly easy to jump straight to an enemy's lap while dodging his projectile. It's the easiest thing in the world to lose lives in this game... and it's downright fucking hard to grab a vine. Whether a vine is swinging over a set of spikes or a bottomless chasm, to grab that rope is all up to Mowgli and whether or not he gives a shit. Oversensitivity is a whole different thing than good response - a whole different thing.

The levels - or chapters - are quite repetitive, after all the movie has one single binding setting, the jungle. I seriously have to wonder why Virgin went for a movie that was 25 years old and didn't have much good material for an exciting platformer in the first place. The Jungle Book doesn't look that hard in the beginning, but hell, it's a nightmare - a nightmare spawned by lacking gameplay, and that alone. It's probably good to mention that you have no continues, no passwords, and no save feature, which might also, at a very high probability, lead to having no desire to play the game. I won't blame you for that. It's a somewhat decent game, but no one can be expected to bear the hell that breaks loose in the later levels without any chance to continue after the game rapidly drains your lives with everything that does and doesn't move.

The Jungle Book is a huge drop from the Disney standard. I don't get what the hell people saw in this game, or still do. No, I also don't get what some people saw in the Bubsy franchise, that even less. Since I don't even like the movie, I don't have any desire to return to the jungle any time soon.

SOUND : 5.9


a.k.a. Disney's The Jungle Book

GameRankings: 69.00% (GB), 75.00% (GEN), 75.75% (SNES)

Ubisoft published a game with the same title for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. Although the game is often referred to as a remake of this game, the two games are completely unrelated.

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti