George of the Jungle
George of the Jungle is the latest effort from Papaya Studios, an independent videogame developer based in California. Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the game itself, well my resources tell me that the employees of this company are all “highly experienced industry veterans”. I’m not going to drop any names of previous companies they may have worked for but lets just say this is no Final Fantasy. With that information at hand, I entered the wonderful world of George of the Jungle with an open mind, trying not to expect the worst. The end result was bad, wait, make that horrible. Think of everything that can go wrong with a kid’s game; especially one that is a cash in on some low budget kid’s show on Nickelodeon. There’s no denying the PS2 has served us well, bless its plastic soul for lasting this long but there is absolutely no excuse for a game this poor. The system may be in its final days but it’s become worryingly clear that for every Persona 3 there will be another ten George of the Jungles hitting the shelves.
I may as well make it clear why I utterly despise this game so much. It’s because as much as you might want to deny it the game had potential. No I’m not going mad, the design is pleasant and the base mechanics for the game are solid, it’s just so poorly executed. The developers clearly realised they had such little to work with concerning the games subject matter and gave up shortly thereafter. George of the Jungle is a 2D platformer based in a 3D world (think of Viewtiful Joe if you must) in which you take control of our loveable hero George. In fact George is anything but a hero, he’s a clunky useless bastard that has one of the most inaccurate and frustrating attack patterns of any platform character you will ever play.
Levels in George of the Jungle all follow the same basic structure – you start off by making your way through a linear path collecting coins and defeating various enemies on your way. At the end of each stage you are forced to engage in a boss fight, these battles are quite easily the most infuriating feature of George of the Jungle. Each boss requires you to observe their attack pattern and style of fighting, only then will you have a remote chance of defeating these malicious monkeys. An example being the first boss in the game; in this case we are staged up against the ‘chief’ monkey of the jungle. Just to emphasize the insane difficulty curve of this supposed kids game, Mr. Chief is armed with a pair of insultingly large red boxing gloves whereas George is armed with nothing but his skinny little mitts. I don’t know if it’s just me but if you were a child playing this I would feel the odds were against you. After several game over screens and lots of shouting, I finally found the key to beating the first 2 bosses in the game was to simply run away and only attack when absolutely necessary. It doesn’t help either that your health bar is measured in a bunch of bananas, containing only 5 as of the beginning of the game. Taking into account how much damage your going to take throughout the adventure, this is highly unfair of the developers.
It’s the tiresome linearity of George of the Jungle that really brings the game down in almost every department. Considering all you will ever do in the game is jump over obstacles, physically abuse wildlife, smash George’s face into trees and get dangerously frustrated with your controller, I’d say the game doesn’t have much going for itself. Presentation wise George of the Jungle doesn’t fare too badly, the menu’s are cleanly produced and the tutorial screens in the opening level look rather slick. It’s just all so minimal though, there’s no real soul to the game’s visual presentation. Most of the game’s levels just feel like they have been copy and pasted over and over, the art design is nice enough but there’s nothing remarkable about it.
The technical side of things however are an embarrassment; I frequently encountered lock ups while playing which caused even greater frustration knowing I’d have to go through the same monotony all over again. Occasionally it was unclear if it was a glitch that had been encountered or not, but many a time I would see George drop dead before my eyes in a fight regardless if the enemy was attacking him or not. One of the things which shocked me the most about George of the Jungle, are the laughably poor pre-rendered cut scenes. Lip sync was definitely not on the designer’s agenda as I haven’t seen mouths flap like that since the early Harry Potter games, that being said it certainly makes for mild amusement. The character models are crudely animated to the point of almost being scary; Ursula in particular looks like she has been stuck in a room full of cosmetics then had a bomb set off creating the poor excuse for her face.
One of my final complaints is the games audio. The voice acting is much the same of its cartoon counterpart (annoying) but what makes it worse is how muffled and incomprehensible it is. Everything sounds like it was recorded underwater making the un-skippable cinematics even more of a pain to endure. The music used during gameplay appeared to be recycled for nearly every level; the real salt in the wound was the way it’s designed to loop over and over so you had no choice but to listen to it wherever you went. The only other notable feature of the game’s soundtrack is the danceable rap track played over start screen, I’ll admit it certainly raised a smile.
Having to play George of the Jungle was without a doubt the lowest, most embarrassing moment of my gaming track record. I have played many terrible games in my time, E.T on the Atari for example was a horrendous mess of a game but I won’t deny my mates and I got more fun out of it than we ever did with George of the Jungle (Yes, i made them play it too). This simply boils down to the fact that George of the Jungle is a bad game, it’s not even one of those games you hear about that are so bad they are funny (much like E.T). You really shouldn’t give this game the time of day, the only possible reason I could imagine anybody would want to buy this game is as a cruel birthday joke for a naughty child. Simply put; don’t buy it.