The Jungle Book (video game)
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|The Jungle Book
|Developer(s)||Syrox Developments (Master System)
Virgin Games USA/Eurocom (Mega Drive/Genesis)
Eurocom (SNES, Game Boy, Game Gear)
|Release date(s)||1993 (Master System)
The Jungle Book is a series of video games based on the 1967 Disney animated film The Jungle Book, primarily released in 1994. It was first released by Virgin Interactive in 1993 for the Sega Master System. Conversions for the Game Boy, NES (for which it was the last title released by a third-party developer prior to the console being discontinued), Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Sega Game Gear, Super NES, and PC followed in 1994, and a remake for the Game Boy Advance was released in 2003. While gameplay is the same on all versions, technological differences between the systems forced changes – in some case drastic – in level design, resulting in six fairly different versions of the 'same' game. This article is largely based upon the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis version.
The player controls Mowgli, a feral young boy who has been raised by wolves. Mowgli must leave his home in the jungle and go back to the human village because Shere Khan, a tiger, is now hunting him. Mowgli must fight jungle wildlife and ultimately Shere Khan himself to reach his village. During the journey he meets Bagheera, Baloo, King Louie, the hypnotist snake Kaa, as well as the evil Shere Khan.
The player controls a young Mowgli through various side-scrolling levels in a similar mold of Pitfall!. The Mowgli character must shoot or avoid enemies and negotiate platformed levels and enemies by running, jumping, climbing vines and using the various weapons and powerups available during the game. Mowgli starts the game with a banana projectile, but may collect invincibility masks, coconuts, double banana shots, and boomerang bananas during the game.
Levels are completed by collecting a sufficient number of gems, then finding a specific character placed in the level. The player scores points by obtaining gems along with having fruits and other items that contribute to the player’s in-game score.
This information is drawn from the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis/NES version. While the SNES title differs in stage layout, the story arc is identical. Stages are divided into chapters which, sequentially, comprise the plot. Each chapter opens with a description of the story at that point and the objective of the stage; some stages are completed by defeating a boss, while others have 'friendly' characters which the player is required to find after collecting sufficient gems.
The player has seven minutes to complete each level. Depending on difficulty, the number of gems the player must collect to progress is either eight (easy), ten (medium), or twelve (hard), of a total of fifteen gems spread throughout the level.
The soundtrack features tunes from the Disney cartoon that it is based on, including the popular "Bare Necessities", "I Wanna Be Like You", and "Colonel Hathi's March".
The game was remade for Game Boy Advance in 2003; although following the plot of the 1967 movie, it was largely puzzle-based, rather than a platform game. It was used to promote the film's sequel, The Jungle Book 2.
Development of the Genesis/Mega Drive version started in 1993 at Virgin Games USA and with programming duties taken by David Perry, but the game, which was intended to be released within that year along with the Master System version, wasn't finished at time because of David Perry and most of the team moving away to form Shiny Entertainment. The Genesis version was subsequently finished by Eurocom in 1994, keeping in the game most of the substantial work already done by Virgin Games USA.
The SNES version was developed from scratch by Eurocom and is a different game altogether to the hybrid Virgin Games USA/Eurocom game for the Genesis. Eurocom also ported the Syrox Developments Master System game to the Game Gear and the NES version to the Game Boy.
GamePro gave the Super NES version a mixed review. They remarked that "Mowgli's adventures are pretty repetitious, centering around his ability to swing on vines." They also criticized the limited use of Baloo, who they felt to be the film's best character. However, they asserted that the "lush" graphics and animation make the game worth playing. Electronic Gaming Monthly similarly praised the graphics and animation, and were also complimentary of the controls and huge levels. They scored it a 7.8 out of 10.
The NES version received mostly mixed reviews. GamePro criticized the "meandering game play, which plods along at a pace much slower than the rollicking movie", but assessed the animations and variety of moves to be impressive by NES standards. The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly similarly felt the game "contains some of the best animation ever seen on the NES", but criticized the overt precision required in jumping over pits. They gave the game a 6.75 out of 10.
GamePro rated the Genesis version as superior to the SNES and NES versions due to its faster and more varied gameplay and brighter graphics, though they criticized the lack of continues and sometimes imprecise controls. Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the Genesis version a 7 out of 10, citing "fantastic" animation, sharp controls, and huge levels. They gave the Game Gear version a 6.2 out of 10, commenting that it "holds up pretty well here, although the control needs some fine-tuning." In contrast, GamePro argued that the Game Gear version has the sharpest controls of any version of the game. They remarked that the gameplay is simplified like the NES version, but concluded, "Aided by unlimited continues, younger gamers in particular will enjoy Mowgli's charming antics."
The Jungle Book was named the Best Mega Drive/Genesis Movie to Game Translation of the Year in GameFan's 1994 "Megawards". Mega placed the game at number 21 in their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time.
- "R.I.P. NES". GamePro (IDG) (70): 31. May 1995.
- "ProReview: The Jungle Book". GamePro (IDG) (60): 68. July 1994.
- "Review Crew: The Jungle Book". Electronic Gaming Monthly (Ziff Davis) (60): 34. July 1994.
- "ProReview: The Jungle Book". GamePro (IDG) (61): 64. August 1994.
- "Review Crew: The Jungle Book". Electronic Gaming Monthly (Ziff Davis) (60): 40. July 1994.
- "ProReview: The Jungle Book". GamePro (IDG) (62): 58. September 1994.
- "ProReview: The Jungle Book". GamePro (IDG) (62): 138. September 1994.
- Mega magazine issue 26, page 74, Maverick Magazines, November 1994