Review: Jungle Beat (iOS)
Finding a kid-friendly mobile game for your Android or iOS device can be a tricky affair. Many are inappropriate, whilst others are so filled with in-app purchases that it’s easy for a child to unintentionally drain your bank account with reckless abandon. Interestingly enough, a rather cute solution comes from a local developer.
The name of the game is Jungle Beat, and it’s based on a series of animated shorts by Sunrise Productions. They’ve already showed us their skill in creating cute characters for the small screen, but how well do their efforts translate into a game?
The first thing you’ll notice upon booting up is that it’s simply gorgeous. It’s extremely colourful with lush, eye-catching backgrounds and meticulous attention to detail. Indeed, it feels like you’re playing an animated feature, which was likely the developer’s intention.
Players take control of one of several characters, each of which is recognizable from the company’s series of shorts. As a rag-tag group of jungle denizens, you’re tasked with completing a number of levels in order to rescue a wayward ostrich chick. Each character has his or her own distinct moves, all of which brings a slightly strategic element to affairs as they’re able to roll through, smash and bridge gaps in the scenery. In addition, several characters may be available to control at once, invoking memories of classic The Lost Vikings and more recent Trine games.
It has a distinctly Donkey Kong Country vibe to it; indeed, there are assorted similarities, such as collecting bananas and finding elusive letters (in this case, B, E, A and T) in order to properly complete a level 100%. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is a brutally-hard Mario-style platformer; it’s designed from the ground-up with mobile in mind and to be a kid-friendly chunk of easy-going gaming. Though it’s possible to get hurt, it’s not possible to actually die, thereby removing any potential frustration for the youngest members of our households.
The only real point of contention is the control scheme. Players invoke actions by simple swipes, causing the characters to move in the direction of your particular swipe. It works overall and isn’t counter-intuitive, but it seems a bit like an odd, and occasionally imprecise, method of input. It would have worked well if a transparent overlay of a d-pad and a button were available instead, as this has complimented some of the toughest precision-platformers to have appeared on mobile. It’s certainly no deal-breaker, but to have the option at least would have been nice.
The whole package is gloriously wrapped together with a cheerful, fun aesthetic that knows exactly what it wants to achieve and sets out to do just that. You’ll enjoy the animals in their environment and through the simple cut-scenes that accompany your quest, and before long, you’ll want to see the story to its conclusion. It’s aimed for kids, but I’m not lying when I say that I managed to squeeze a couple of hours of enjoyment out it for myself, and you parents out there will likely be doing the same if your children let you.