Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party PlayStation 2
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Magenta Software Ltd.
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £24.99 (£39.99 with Buzz! controllers)
Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party isn’t the first Buzz! title to be released but it’s the first one we’ve looked at. The Buzz! games are for one to four players, which are played with a special controller. Essentially you have four controllers linked to a hub that is then plugged into one of the PlayStation 2’s USB ports. Each controller has a big red circular button at the top (that lights up when necessary) and four rectangular coloured buttons (blue, orange, green and yellow) underneath. The buttons on our controllers were a solid colour but some only have their edges coloured. The Buzz! games to date have all been quiz games where you’ll press the relevant coloured button to answer the questions. Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party is different though and is squarely aimed at younger children.
Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party is a jungle flavoured party game consisting of around 40 mini-games. The games can either be played as a single-player game or a multiplayer game. As a single-player game you’ll select one of the monkeys to play as, customise their appearance and then play 10 games trying to get your highest score possible. When it comes to playing the multiplayer game you won’t get to customise your monkey but you do get to choose whether to play a short, medium, long or marathon game. In addition you can also practice games.
Let’s take a look at a few of the games on offer. Totem Pole requires you to knock out coloured heads from a large totem pole. The heads are all different colours (blue, orange, green and yellow) and the idea is to press the coloured button to correspond with the colour head that is ready to be whacked. Primate Penalties is a monkey penalty shoot-out. The goal has the different coloured ball images in the top right, top left, bottom right and bottom left corners. One player will take the penalties by pressing the button that corresponds with the coloured ball image from one of the corners. The other player is the goalkeeper and likewise needs to press the appropriate coloured button for the corner where they want to dive to. Most games, like those we’ve just mentioned, simply require you to press one of the coloured buttons. A few require you to only press the big red Buzz! button. Turtle shoot requires you to hurl coconuts at turtles as they swim onto an island. You’ll see an arrow moving around your monkey. You have to press the button to set the direction and then the arrow will then increase and decrease in size. A further tap of the button will set the direction and your monkey will throw the coconut at the chosen target.
I think where Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party succeeds is that it suits its target audience perfectly. Adults and older children may think the game is rather easy or silly but put the controllers in the hands of its intended audience and the smiles on their faces confirm that the developers have got it right. It also makes an enjoyable family game because whether you have children who are 5 or 10 they can still enjoy themselves and not have to worry about dual analogue sticks or tricky button combos. Yes the control scheme is a simple one but it’s friendly and importantly, the controller sits comfortably in the hand whether you have a little child’s hand or a shovel-like adult size hand.
The presentation of the game is definitely appealing to young children. The visuals in Jungle Party might not be anything particularly special but they are perfectly suited for this type of game and are very easy on the eye. Jungle Party could have been better in its presentation for deaf gamers. The announcer’s voice is not subtitled. It can be heard in most places such as on the menus and during the games. Rather disappointingly each game has only verbal descriptions of how to play. There is no text description at all. We don’t have access to the game’s manual so we can’t say if the games are described in detail there. Thankfully what you need to do is pretty obvious in most cases, although this doesn’t really make up for the fact that text descriptions should have been included.
Few games actually cater for young children so it’s refreshing to see Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party make quite an impressive job of appealing to its' target audience. The game is colourful and well presented. The controls are very straightforward thanks to the Buzz! controller (the mini-games are for the most part enjoyable and easy to get to grips with). In fact the only area where the game falls down somewhat is in its support for deaf gamers which unfortunately isn’t that great. Thankfully most of the unsubtitled speech is of no importance but the game descriptions should definitely have been shown in text. Overall though, this is a great way for younger members of the family to enjoy themselves on the PlayStation 2.
Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party caters for its target audience very nicely. It's a game young children will be able to get to grips with in no time. It's rather a shame that subtitles have not been included though.