Jungle Party PSP
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Magenta Software
Four years ago we reviewed Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party for the PlayStation 2 and given that the game was aimed at younger gamers we thought it was well designed and catered well for its target audience. The only problem with the game of course was that it didn't make any real attempt to be deaf gamer friendly. Jungle Party is essentially the same game for the PSP. Obviously there are no Buzz! controllers here as we're playing the game on the PSP. Instead you have a choice of passing the PSP around or playing the game with three others who also have a PSP.
From the main menu the options are Play Game, Custom Game and Practice. Selecting Play Game will allow you to play either a Quick Play, Single Player, Pass Around or Network game. In either the Quick Play or Single Player modes you'll play against three AI competitors. The AI has three difficulty settings although the easiest of these doesn't even feel like it's trying at times. Custom game allows you to create a custom short (five mini-games), medium (ten mini-games) or long game (fifteen mini-games). You'll get to select what mini-games you want to play (from a choice of fifteen) and you can even save your custom list so that you can play them again at a later date.
Whilst playing against the AI is OK for getting to grips with the mini-games, it soon becomes rather tedious. Party games are meant to be played against friends and family and Jungle Party is no exception. The only two ways of playing against human opposition is either the Pass Around or the Network game modes both of which support up to four players. In Pass Around you'll have your turn at a mini-game and then pass the PSP to the next player for them to take their turn. The only problem here is that every mini-game suddenly becomes very time consuming and as a result rather tedious. If you have friends or family members who have their own PSP (game sharing is supported) you can instead opt for the Network mode, which is a much quicker way of playing.
There are fifteen mini-games in total and the quality of them is actually good, although they are simplistic. This should come as no surprise given the game's target audience however. Bubble Bath has monkeys farting to create a bubble bath whilst a gorilla is sleeping. Monkey Bomb sees the monkeys passing a bomb to each other. The longer the bomb is held by a monkey the more points that monkey will earn. However, should the bomb explode whilst a monkey is holding the bomb he will not only lose the earned points but also some from his original total. Totem Pole sees the monkeys knocking chunks out of a totem pole by pressing the relevant buttons. The only complaint I have with the mini-games is that there isn't enough of them. There were around forty on the PlayStation 2 version and fifteen feels insufficient.
The presentation of the game is pretty much identical to how it appeared on the PlayStation 2. The visuals are simplistic and colourful and the monkeys are rather cheeky looking as you would expect. Thankfully Jungle Party on the PSP is a little better for deaf gamers than the original release of the game on the PlayStation 2. You are given some basic text descriptions of each mini-game before playing so you'll be aware of what needs to be done. None of the speech in the game is subtitled however and that's a shame because there’s quite a lot of it.
It may seem like an odd decision to re-release a four year old PlayStation 2 party game on the PSP but the result is far from being a bad one. In fact under the right conditions it could be rather enjoyable for small children. The problem is of course that you're going to need at least two children, preferably four, who each own a PSP in order to get the most out of the game. As a single-player experience the novelty will wear off pretty quickly and whilst the pass and play support is welcome, it also makes the games appear far too long winded.