Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness, and Bananas: a name that wacky and eccentric deserves to be tied to an equally wacky and eccentric game. In terms of story and art design, Jungle Rumble is just that – with visuals inspired by games like LoCoRoCo and dialog that both makes Jewish references and calls people “Bastards!,” playing the game inevitable creates the occasional smile. But the gameplay itself fails to measure up to the name, feeling like the music was left behind somewhere on the trek to the bananas.
As a monkey in the Mofongo tribe, Jungle Rumble’s quest begins when the tribe begins to run out of bananas. Sent on a quest by the tribal leader, you must track down another village’s sage to discover what’s causing the shortage, using precisely-timed chains of taps to navigate the board. Different rhythmic patterns cause the monkeys to move, hop-step, and throw coconuts at antagonists, and you’ll be driving each four-count related pattern in on the touch screen. Unfortunately, the game is ridiculously short, clocking in with only 2-3 hours of gameplay to reach the end of the four stages. But it’s not just the game’s length that’s the issue: it’s the lack of detail or complexity.
By the time you reach Jungle Rumble’s fourth set of stages, it still feels like it’s just getting off the ground. New enemies are introduced which only appear in a handful of levels, and though a couple stages offer challenges that might require multiple attempts, I cleared most of the levels with a gold medal in one try. And the music, a critical component of any rhythm game, just feels hollow from beginning to end. Though the game seems heavily inspired by concepts of African tribal drums, the music itself lacks the richness, complexity, or fun to really compel players to continue on. I really think the rest of the game could have been forgiven if the game’s soundtrack held its weight, but I didn’t even want to go back and replay the levels I got silver or bronze medals on just because I didn’t feel the thrill of clearing them the first time.
Jungle Rumble’s story ends abruptly, and though I felt like maybe I’d get a better ending by getting more gold medals, since nothing specifically told me that would be the case, I couldn’t bring myself to put in the effort. In the end, Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness, and Bananas just doesn’t offer much freedom or happiness in terms of gameplay, which is a shame because the dialog can feel pretty bananas.