PSP Game Review: Jungle Party

13 12 2010

The award winning Buzz! Junior Jungle Party series arrives on the Sony PSP and aside from a few minor niggles does not disappoint.

The game has been around on other Sony systems since 2006 and in 2007 achieved an award in Britain for the best children’s video game. This PSP version continues in the same vein.

For those of you not familiar with these types of games they are specifically designed to be played by groups of people. In this case groups of children – although adults will enjoy playing along as well. The colors, sounds, humor and simplicity of the game reflect this focus.

Up to four players each take the role of a monkey and compete against each other in a series of cheekily humorous mini-games. The range of these is rather impressive and parents will like the fact…..

their children are required to utilize a range of hand to eye skills. There are ‘speed response’ based games, spatial awareness games and time judgment games. Notable examples include: Guessing which hippo of four is dressed incorrectly, using targeting to accurately judge the flight of a coconut aimed at your competitors monkeys and a version of pass-the-parcel with a ticking bomb.

No tutting now parents, it’s all done in the best possible taste and with a heavy dose of slapstick humor thrown in.

The original games on the PS2 and PS3 consoles used your television and came with special five button controllers. Although you can plug the PSP into high-definition televisions with a separate cable, this option is only available for ones supporting the American and Japanese television standard (NTSC).

The lack of this means you all need to crowd around the small screen, pass the PSP between you and use the four shape buttons on the right of the device. With two players this works fine but with four you may find yourself peering over each others shoulders to get a look at the small screen. It is worth pointing out there is a multiplayer option where you don’t have to do this. It’s called Game Sharing. If you have a second PSP you can join in the same game even if you don’t own a copy and it works very well.

One aspect which should please the younger audience and parents, is the encouragement offered by the female television presenter voice-over. She works hard to boost the confidence of wayward players throughout and even helps them to create their own games using the menu system. It’s a very thoughtfully addition to the in-game experience and works very well for the younger kids it’s aimed at.

What of other games of this type? Well, this stands pretty much alone in the PSP world. This is one of a series of games with the “Buzz!” title all using the same ‘press a button before anyone else’ control method however only this one is specifically aimed at kids and on the PSP. A possible rival is Patapon which has garnered excellent reviews but is a more tricky rhythm based game and would suit the later ages in the range that Jungle Party is aiming at.

On the negative side; Jungle Party’s menu system looks dated and is slow. The between game sequences take longer than they need to and older players may find the inability to turn the music down quite frustrating. Longevity wise it’s not a ‘Wii Sports Resort’ which uses numerous very different locations within which the action takes place. Because of this you may find it not holding your children’s affections as long as with other games.

Minor niggles aside, if you are looking for a game that allows you to cuddle up with friends and family; you want a bit of a laugh and you have some younger players this would be a very good choice indeed.

7/10

Review by Andrew Maxwell


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