Jungle Rumble intrigued me with one single line: “Jungle Rumble is a Rhythm-RTS where the player drums to control a tribe of monkeys.” Now, rhythm games aren’t exactly my forte, nor are they particularly my go to game genre. However, any game that gives me the opportunity to control of a tribe of monkeys, via drumming, has got my attention and my time.
The Mofongo Tribe lives deep in the jungle. They swing from trees under vast skies. They vie to throw coconuts the furthest. And they pursue the sweet flesh of the banana. Sustenance for the young. Delight for the old. When a rival tribe invades, to steal those bananas, a conflict ignites.
In Jungle Rumble:Freedom, Happiness, and Bananas, you drum on the screen to send your monkeys into the fray. You control your side with a rhythmic grammar, in what could be called a Rhythm-RTS.
The game has a dynamic soundtrack that responds as you play. As you swing through trees and build your mojo, the music swells in intensity.
I think you’d have to be blind not to be struck by the bright colors and crisp style of Jungle Rumble: it is the thing that jumped out at me first (well, second, after the monkeys). The bright neons and rhythmic flashes work very well in the context of the game. It is a fun, light hearted game, and looks it: no FPS-gray-and-brown tones here!
I got a chance to play the game when I met Trevor Stricker at the Boston Festival of Indie Games, and went in virtually blind: I new it was a rhythm game about monkeys, but nothing else. I was kind of shocked by the learning curve when I first started tapping on the screen, attempting to make my little monkey jump from palm to palm. A couple of the actions don’t immediately click, and fight a little bit against your natural rhythmic instincts. They actually make perfect sense once you get a few more actions and abilities to combo together, and blend well into the gameplay. All your actions are controlled by hitting different spaces in time with the rhythm, but those beats can be a little odd at first. Movement, for instance, always seemed one beat off to me. I struggled with it at first, but once I started being able to throw coconuts, the beats lined up much more easily and I started getting into the groove of things, pun intended. Trevor mentioned this was something he had struggled with, but his desire to make this game a reality trumped any qualms he might have had. I’m very glad, because the inspiration for this game is just too good to ignore:
I’ve always wanted to make a rhythm game. But, I’ve made game for 16 years, and one thing that always irked me about rhythm games is that you are following a script. If you play guitar hero, its says “press Here Now”, and however close you are to now is your score. I like games where the player makes decisions, where the player has meaning full choices that are branching. It was always something going off in my head, and then I was in Puerto Rico for a wedding, and the dance floor was packed, and all of a sudden the DJ stopped. All of sudden this band walked out on the dance floor and they had hand drums and trumpets, and they just struck up, the whole place went mad, some guy grabbed a microphone and just started freestyling. I realized that was the game I wanted to make.
– Trevor Stricker, Creator of Jungle Rumble and Head of Disco Pixel
The other big news for Jungle Rumble at the BFIG was it’s release on the PS Vita, announced on September 12th:
We are stoked to announce that our rhythm game sensation, Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness, and Bananas is coming to PS Vita very soon! We are adding more monkeys, more beats, and more bedlam. This is bananas!
Using the PS Vita’s touch screen to tap along to the beat of the jungle, players drum on monkeys and then drum on trees to have their simian soldiers swing through the trees. Drum on coconuts and then drum on enemies to throw those coconuts with rhythmic flair. The player jaunts through the jungle with a rhythmic grammar. Unlike a traditional rhythm game there is no script to follow—in Jungle Rumble drumming controls the game.