Love â€˜em or loathe â€˜em, weâ€™re all familiar with the Buzz! series of themed quiz games. Before the advent of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, odds were pretty high that the colourful buzzers would make an appearance on a PS2 near you (and some smart ass â€˜braniacâ€™ would invariably blitz the field with his/her dazzling IQ.) Sony further demonstrated the buzzersâ€™ versatility by producing a number of kid-friendly applications, one of which was Buzz! Junior Jungle Party. The point of difference with the Junior titles is that they are comprised of mini-games instead of quiz show material, and are therefore more appealing to the younger set.
Released on 11th of November, Jungle Party for the PSP is essentially a condensed version of the original PS2 title. The list of mini-games has been pared down from 40 to 15, which may seem like a massive drop in replay value, but it isnâ€™t. After trying out all of the original mini-games my family settled on a handful of favourites â€“ most of which have been included in the portable adaptation. One of Jungle Partyâ€™s main draw cards is that itâ€™s a game anyone can just pick up and play. The buzzer component has gone but the controls are every bit as simple to operate, with the four PSP buttons replacing the four colours and flashing red knob.
A healthy dose of slapstick, physical humour sets the tone of the game. The monkeysâ€™ antics include playing â€˜pass the parcelâ€™ with a bomb, generating fart bubbles in a jungle Jacuzzi, getting flattened by falling anvils and sticking their heads in lionsâ€™ mouths (kids: donâ€™t try this at home!). Thereâ€™s also a refreshingly non-PC element of dubious sportsmanship. The winners poke fun at the losers, who engage in self flagellation and tantrums. Childish, perhaps, but itâ€™s all good natured stuff, and kids are ultimately the target demographic for this title. At least they can relate to this type of behaviourâ€¦
At its easiest setting the AI presents minimal challenge, making the game suitable for younger players. Your opponents will generally be slow to react and often make poor decisions. The highest difficulty setting requires faster reaction times and is more suited to players at the upper end of the age spectrum (5-10 years). The bite-sized mini games are perfect for killing a few minutes, and the flexibility of â€˜pick-n-mixâ€™ custom games means you can tailor each session to suit individual preferences and attention span. Thereâ€™s even a multiplayer option, although the format differs to the PS2 version. Instead of all players competing simultaneously each is required to complete a mini-game before passing the PSP onto the next player. This isnâ€™t as successful as the single player game as it interrupts the flow of play and makes for a lengthier session, while each player must wait their turn. The more, the merrier? Not in this case.
Graphics are almost on par with the PS2 version, with some amusing animations plus gratuitous use of primary colours. Jungle Party has the look and feel of a kidsâ€™ cartoon â€“ one that you can interact with. The groovy soundtrack lays down plenty of jungle beats, punctuated by gentle vocal prompts from what sounds like an enthusiastic, British kindy teacher.
While it is a little light on content, Jungle Party works well as a short term, single player game. It will keep your little monkeys happily occupied; just donâ€™t expect the multiplayer buzz (pardon the pun) of the original.