Publisher Ubi Soft
Developer: Visual Impact Productions
Release Date: February 4, 2003
Buy 'THE JUNGLE BOOK 2': Game Boy Advance
The Jungle Book is Ubi Soft’s foray into the world of the classic Disney film, which in turn is based off of the Rudyard Kipling novel of the same name that tells the story of a boy named Mowgli, who was raised by wolves from birth and lives in the jungle. So, does the game do the movie justice, or is it just another forgettable attempt at recreating the movie?
The Jungle Book is almost two games in one. At the menu, you can select either Puzzle or Adventure. After selecting which game type, you’re prompted to select the difficulty level (easy or normal). The Adventure mode has Mowgli trekking across six levels, ranging from the obligatory jungle level, to King Louie’s Temple. Players view the action from a bird’s eye view as they guide Mowgli on fairly tame “get from Point A to Point B” quests. However, along the way, you can collect experience points and statuettes to unlock pictures from the movie in the Gallery (accessed from the main menu). Statuettes must simply be picked up, but experience requires a bit more effort.
Whenever Mowgli touches an animal roaming about the level, he must complete a puzzle to gain experience, or lose a heart for not being able to figure it out in enough time. The puzzles themselves won’t be much of a challenge to seasoned veterans, but some of the latter ones will give you a run for your money. To help with the more difficult puzzles, you can also collect hourglasses (which increase the amount of time you have to complete the puzzle once activated) and four-leaf clovers (which automatically solve the puzzle for you). Should Mowgli ever need to replenish any of his three hearts, there is a variety of fruit scattered about each level. The one glaring problem with Adventure mode is its password system: if you’re gaming on the go, you’re probably not going to have a pen and paper handy to copy 8-character long passwords. This isn’t much of problem for anyone planning to just zip through each level, as they may be able to complete the game in one sitting, but for anyone who goes through the trouble of solving all of those puzzles is going to really need a place to pick up from.
Puzzle mode simply takes the puzzles from Adventure mode and leaves out all of the collecting. Again, the puzzles are simple, yet addictive. You select one 2x2 grid of pieces at a time, flipping the order around in order to make your puzzle look exactly like the one in the upper left hand display box. You start off with a 60 second time limit that gradually decreases as you progress to the later levels until you have a ridiculously low time limit in which to solve huge puzzles (unless you play on Easy, in which you have no time limit). My hat goes off to anyone who can make it past level 69.
Both Puzzle mode and Adventure mode have boss levels thrown in to change things up a bit. Some involve pushing buttons in sequence as shown on the screen a la Dance Dance Revolution, while others have you dodging fish and ducking to avoid tee limbs. It should be noted that the first boss level requires you to mash buttons feverishly. If it took me four tries to finally do it, I don’t see how the age group this game is intended for stands much of a chance. In Puzzle mode, defeating a boss simply means you get a few bonus items, but in Adventure mode, it’s required to advance on.
Controls couldn’t be easier. The D-pad moves Mowgli in Adventure mode and selects the tiles you want to flip in Puzzle mode. Mowgli can run if you press A and switch selected tiles in Adventure mode and Puzzle mode, respectively. That’s all there is to it, making the controls simple enough for the little ones.
The graphics are above average for the most part. The levels in adventure mode are static, but bright and vibrant nonetheless. The boss levels boss levels are so fluidly animated that if you were sure you weren’t looking at a GBA screen, you’d think you were watching the movie. There are even some animated clips between levels, although none of them involve much outside of Mowgli walking for a few seconds
The sound is a mixed bag. The game’s music is upbeat, and reminiscent of the movie, adding to the overall experience. The sound effects are another story, however. Inaudible squawks and gibberish coming from any characters trying to “speak” will have you lunging for the volume, in hopes of salvaging your ears.
If you’re looking for some lighthearted adventuring, The Jungle Book delivers. The game delivers on all fronts, aside from sound, and will keep the kids busy for awhile.