Donkey Kong has his jungle beat, Samba De Amigo has his rockin' maracas... it seems like there's something about a funky rhythms that's irresistible to simians, which is probably why the development team over at Disco Pixel have brought us Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness, and Bananas, a new iOS rhythm game that's two parts rhythmic tapping, one part monkeys.
A rival tribe of red monkeys have invaded, and they want all the bananas. As the peace/banana-loving Mofongo tribe it's up to you to repel the invaders and make sure to keep your supply of potassium intact. To accomplish this you'll move your monkey minions to the rhythm of an ever-moving beat. Tapping specific motions in time with the music allows you to hop your monkeys to and fro, group them up and snag a handful of coconuts to stick it to those rapscallion reds once and for all. Though early levels are fairly straightforward, mostly asking that you to get from point A to point B, later levels introduce a variety of different enemies— you'll have to keep a steady rhythm moving lest you let these scarlet scoundrels overwhelm your forces.
Upon completion of each level you'll receive a medal based on how quickly you completed it, whether you defeated every enemy monkey, and whether you kept your monkeys alive. There's not really a reward for acquiring higher-caliber medals, but it does add a bit of replayability. You do get a story as you progress through Jungle Rumble's many stages, but it's as basic as they come, with character responses often being posed in the form of monkemoticons rather than actual dialogue. Your inner child may find them amusing initially, but eventually you'll likely yearn for something a little more stimulating.
In an age where many gamers are overly concerned with HD graphics and 1080p picture quality, it's refreshing to see a game put style and visual clarity over graphical accomplishment. Jungle Rumble uses a simple style reminiscent of a children's pop-up book, with basic geometric shapes and clean colors giving things a visual clarity many games lack. Its audio, however, is a little less than exciting. Basic beats strum throughout every stage, serving as the backdrop for the action, and while these beats do a good job of indicating when players should tap for their next movie, they're not exactly awe-inspiring pieces of music— something most other rhythm games are known for.
Honestly, there's not much to Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness, and Bananas; it provides shallow, easy-to-digest bits of gaming, but does so at the sales price of $5, which is rather hefty when compared to other, similar iOS titles. Jungle Rumble's strong, rhythmic core and marvelous visual presentation help it stand out from the crowded iOS jungle, but its basic gameplay and lack of depth wrap vines around it and drag it back down to the jungle floor, leaving us with a game that's a little above average, but a little short of being truly great.
This review is based on a download of Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness, and Bananas provided by the developer for iOS.