Converted for the Atari 2600 by John Allred and Michael Feinstein. Converted for the Atari 5200 and 400/800 by Allen Merrell with graphics by Jerome Domurat. Converted for the Commodore 64 by Bill Bogenreif.
All the above published by Atarisoft in 1983.
Converted for the ColecoVision by David Cartt. Converted for the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A by Jim Dramis, Garth Dollahite and Paul Urbanus.
Both versions published by Atarisoft in 1984.
Also converted for the Apple II, Commodore VIC-20 and IBM-PC compatibles by Atarisoft in 1984. Further details unknown.
Unofficial conversion "Jungle Queen" for the Tandy TRS-80 CoCo written by David Shipka, and published by ZoSo Software in 1984.
Unofficial conversion "Jungle King" for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum written by Luca Bordoni, and published through Load 'n' Run magazine in 1985.
Unofficial port of Jungle Hunt from ColecoVision to MSX written by Muffie, and published by ICON Games in 2008; re-released by Repro Factory in 2014 as part of "Muffie's Tutankham & Conversions" compilation cartridge.
INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS
Once again, we're heading into classic arcade territory, which means plenty of different versions, but due to the relative simplicity, I'm expecting this to be relatively easy to get through. Mind you, digging up through all the different platform-specific archives online, I didn't expect to find quite as many unofficial conversions for all the machines as I ended up finding. I guess it only goes to show,
just how big of a classic we're talking about here.
Of course, Jungle Hunt wasn't always called that. The original arcade version, Jungle King, was sued for copyright infringement by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate for unlicenced use of the likeness of Tarzan and Johnny Weissmüller's trademark calling wail from the old movies. So, Taito renamed the game to the more familiar Jungle Hunt, and replaced the Tarzan-like protagonist with an expeditionist, and the Weissmüller wail with a short opening tune. As if that weren't enough, the entire game was yet again reworked and rebranded as Pirate Pete as a third arcade version, with some minor gameplay differences, completely overhauled graphics in a pirate theme and all that jazz. Although all that is good and fun to know about, we're going to focus specifically on Jungle Hunt and its official ports. The final section of this entry will be about the unofficial versions.
At the time of starting to write this entry, the ratings for the official versions at the usual haunts were as such: at Atarimania, the A2600 version has no ratings, but the A5200 version has a 8.8 rating from 10 votes, and the 400/800 version has a 7.9 rating from 214 votes. At Lemon64, the C64 version has been voted 6.7 by 88 users. This time, the DOS version's ratings come from My Abandonware, which has a score of 4.44 out of 5.0 from 18 votes. The other available ratings come from MobyGames, where the Atari 2600 version has a score of 3.7 out of 5.0 from 21 votes, the ColecoVision version has a 3.6 from 5 votes, and the Apple II version has a 3.3 from 6 votes. All the rest seem to still have such a niche community, that they have no rating systems.
DESCRIPTION & REVIEW
Jungle Hunt is, for the most part, a side-scrolling arcade/action/platformer, with no actual platforming in the true sense of the word. Basically, the idea is to get through the jungle and save your girl from the clutches of wild natives before the time runs out. The game is divided into four sections: a clearly Tarzan'esque vine-jumping section, a swimming section with a possibility to stab crocodiles to death, an automated uphill-running segment with jumping over bouncing boulders, and a single-screen jumping mission, in which you need to avoid getting hit by the savage cannibalistic jungle natives and their sharp and pointy spears and save your damsel in high-strung distress. (Sorry, silly puns are silly.) True to classic arcade form, after you have completed your mission, the game loops over with more obstacles and other difficulty-increasing elements.
What makes Jungle Hunt particularly special is, that it goes into the opposite direction from 99% of all other side-scrolling platforming games. Really, there aren't many, where you go from right to left instead of left to right. That aside, it's a fun, mildly violent, yet highly violence-suggestive game with an unfortunate lack of licence for keeping the Tarzan likeness intact, and being one of the games that Atari got publishing rights for, high sales were certain from the start. It's not a perfect arcade game by any means, but it's one of those that might easily have defined many a gamer's childhood. Certainly a classic, and one that deserves looking into even now.
Being as short a game as Jungle Hunt is, I think the best way to go about it is to divide the comparison to deal with each level, one at a time. Of course, you get the description of the arcade versions of the levels first, all in which the basic structure is the same, but in the case of Pirate Pete, there are some additional things to consider even on the first playthrough. And just to make sure I'm not making these level names up, they were checked from the game manual of the ATARI 2600 version, because those sounded the most ridiculous.
LEVEL 1: DEADLY FOREST
You start the game standing on a branch of a tree, ready to jump and grab a vine after another, until you reach the end of the level. All you really need to do is push the fire button at the correct time. Pirate Pete differs in that if the vine is swinging backwards as you push the button, you will fall down to the ground. All the vines have their own specific rhythm to which you need to time your jumps to, which is the only difficulty on your first playthrough. The second completion adds moving monkeys as a new hazard, and the third adds something more still, but we're concentrating on the first two rounds here, just to get all the basic differences checked out.
Since all home conversions are based on Jungle Hunt, you can basically jump the vines at any preferred moment, although the DOS version only allows you to jump once the screen has fully scrolled to a halt for the current occupied vine. Between all the versions, there's only one further difference worth noting, and that is the collision detection concerning the monkeys. From what I have noticed, all the ATARI conversions are rather loose on that, in favour of the monkey, so it's pretty easy to get killed on the more advanced difficulty levels. The A2600 differs from the rest by not allowing you to grab the vines by anywhere else but the bottom quarter of it. In the APPLE version, our hero jumps in a relatively slow arc, during which some of the vines are able to go back and forth, so it's more difficult not to grab a vine. Also, the monkeys aren't nearly as territorial as, for instance, in the ATARI versions. Then we have the COLECOVISION version, in which the vines aren't quite as visible nor as long as in any other version, and they're straight as wooden poles, rather than ropes, so you really need to time them differently; also, the monkeys are bigger than in any other version, giving you less room for error in further levels. I guess the only ones still missing from the bunch are the TI-99/4A and VIC-20 versions, both of which have an odd feel: at the very beginning, our hero jumps with the speed of a madman to the first vine, but then he slows down considerably once the game starts scrolling, but otherwise it's the usual deal. In the C64 version, this level has been made exceptionally well.
LEVEL 2: REPTILE RIVER
Level 1 ends with our hero jumping into a river, and the swimming starts almost immediately. This time, you need to control our hero in all possible directions the joystick (or other controller) allows you to, and the fire button will perform an attack. The river is infested with crocodiles, so you need to beware not to get eaten by them, so it's either avoid or head-on attack. You also need to watch out for your oxygen meter, which will naturally deplete constantly under the water - only touching the surface will replenish your oxygen meter. At a couple of spots in the river, you will meet with streams of bubbles rising from the bottom of the river, which will drag you along with them if you're not careful - destroying them is impossible. On further playthroughs, there are much more bubble streams.
In the original arcade versions, if you swim pushing to the left, the level will progress quicker, but it's obviously a bit more difficult to dodge or kill the on-coming crocodiles. This effect has only been reproduced for the COLECOVISION version. Speaking of making progress, the APPLE and DOS versions have the longest versions of this level.
Some of the lower-caliber versions have dropped the bubble streams altogether, including the A2600 and TI-99/4A, but they're also missing from the COLECOVISION version. For the more advanced ATARI versions and the C64 version, the bubble streams come up in a straight line, although rather singularly in the C64 version, you can easily avoid them by swimming at the very bottom of the screen past them. In the APPLE version, you only get one bubble bunch per occasion, and the DOS and VIC-20 versions feel the closest to the original with a good horizontal separation for the bubbles, but in the case of the DOS version, the places in the level where the bubbles appear are different, and there are three of them already in the beginner level instead of two.
Regarding crocodiles, then: for most home conversions, it is generally safer to attack a crocodile from underneath, but preferably when their jaws are closed. It is possible to kill a crocodile with jaws open, and you'll get better score for that, but it's much more dangerous that way. Besides, the collision detection isn't so good in any version to make attacking the crocodiles a particularly good idea in any case, but for the COLECO version, it seems this activity has been made easier than most others. The A2600 version has the crocodiles appear in sequences or groups, where usually three similarly sedately acting crocodiles go by you at different depths, and occasionally you get a rogue crocodile that wildly alternates its depth; this, I suppose, has been made to replace the bubble streams.
LEVEL 3: BOULDER FIELD
After you resurface, an uphill run towards the native camp begins. Unfortunately, you are constantly bombarded with bouncing boulders, which you need to jump over or run under if possible. In Pirate Pete, you also need to watch out for snakes up the trees. Although the level scrolls automatically, you have to run left to go faster, or back off to the right, and you can jump two heights - higher by pushing the joystick up while pressing the fire button.
For this level, the truest to the arcade original are the VIC-20 and DOS versions, both of which enable you to lie down on the ground and thus pause the ascension. The COLECO version is rather close, as well, but for that one, you get only one boulder coming down at a time. The ATARI 5200/400/800 and C64 versions have crouching instead of fully laying down on the ground, and oddly, the ascension animation continues while you're crouching, even though it affects the gameplay in no way. The ATARI 2600 version has only a visual oddity, but it plays practically the same as the arcade original, only you crouch here also, instead of lie down. The APPLE and TI-99 versions are probably the most differing from the original, by only having one big boulder on the regular difficulty level; both versions have only one boulder coming down at a time; and ducking or crouching is not possible at all.
LEVEL 4: CANNIBAL CAMP
The final level is a small camp of jungle natives, who have a great big cauldron waiting to get to the right temperature for them to cook the unfortunate human hanging above the cauldron. There are only two natives walking their designated paths slowly back and forth, raising and lowering their spears at a slightly different rhythm, and the dangling rope has your tied-up rescuee bobbing up and down at a slow pace. The controls are practically the same as in level 3, and it's all about timing. In Pirate Pete, there's an additional hazard of someone throwing a cutlass at you from the ledge above the rescuee.
The only really notable difference between the home conversions is on the ATARI 2600, in which the final level is actually segmented into basically two different screens, in which you jump over a native and then outrun him to move onto the next screen, finally reaching the third screen featuring the ending animation. The less notable difference is in the ways the natives act: in the APPLE, DOS, COLECOVISION and TI-99 versions, the natives make slightly different moves with their spears, and each of the natives has a different movement speed.
Before ending this section, here are some further observations on things that deserve to be noted. The PC booter (DOS) version does NOT work completely under emulation - at least not in DOSbox. You can only play the CGA mode, and it seems like even that can only be played in the regular RGB setting. I even hunted down the original disk image to try and play the game from that, but the EGA mode always freezes in the title screen. Also, for playing the DOS version, I highly recommend a joystick, if at all possible, but remember to do a joystick calibration in the game menu to be actually able to use one. If you go for the keyboard controls, any defined key press will make the hero run/swim into the direction until you change the direction - there is no stopping the man in that sense; at least when using a joystick, he will stop moving at centering.
The APPLE version is also preferable on a joystick, since I couldn't find the keys to play it on a keyboard. Another odd thing I noticed is, that the COLECO version allows you to change the colours of the text and the background in the mode selection screen with the controller buttons not mentioned on the screen.
Not counting the ARCADE original, the title screen usually features some game options to be changed, such as one- and two-player modes and the difficulty level. Some versions have a title screen with no options, only to have a bigger options screen with lots of more options, and you can find these in DOS, VIC-20, APPLE and COLECOVISION versions. Despite being designated options screens, the VIC-20 and COLECO versions don't really add anything of real difference to the options, they're just featured in an additional screen, and the COLECO version makes you select the preferred game option from the numpad. In addition to the expected options, the DOS version allows you to change the control keys, calibrate the joystick, toggle the controller, toggle sound, and even move the screen around to centre it to your monitor's native setting. The APPLE version's options are similar to the DOS version, minus joystick calibration, key redefinition and screen adjust. And as usual, the difficulty and player settings in the A2600 version are adjusted with the switches on the console itself.
I played all the possible versions in both PAL and NTSC modes, and I came to the conclusion, that the APPLE, C64 and DOS versions play the most notably slower than the original; the APPLE version perhaps slowest of all. Obviously, playing in PAL mode where available makes the game even slower than it should, since it was designed in NTSC area.
And so we have to end this section with an interesting observation: for the most part, the machines that had been around for a longer time at the time had the better ports of the game, because programmers knew better of what they were doing. The IBM-PC compatibles and APPLE weren't really considered as proper gaming platforms yet, even though they certainly had their own good lot of games being made for them. Also, the C64 version still such a new machine, not even the people at Atarisoft had the know-how to make the game play as well as it could, since they only made a sloppy ATARI 5200/400/800 port of it. That said, none of the remaining ports are all that perfect, either. The A2600 version was built on harsh compromises, the TI-99/4A version is lacking in finesse of practically everything in the game, and the COLECO version feels mostly a bit too easy. But if that's the lot that needs to be put in order, here's my scoring on them:
2. COMMODORE VIC-20
3. ATARI 5200 / ATARI 400/800 / C64
4. ATARI 2600
6. PC BOOTER
8. APPLE II
You would think, that being such an early game - this is from 1982, remember - you couldn't expect the graphics to be anything particularly noteworthy, but if you've never seen any of the original ARCADE games, you might not realize what the home conversions are being compared to, and how well they actually did their jobs in 1983 and 1984. Now, obviously, I cannot give you a full-blown comparison of details here, but for that, you will get the Video Link section before the Overall section; for the article itself, you will get one screenshot per level per version, plus the additional title and options screens, as well as any cutscenes where available, and let's hope that's enough.
|Screenshots from the original Jungle King arcade game.|
Starting with the basics, the title screen is green with white text and an enormous wooden signpost with the game title written in big, yellow capital letters. Not very pleasing, but still more than you might have expected. The middle two pairs of pictures show the clear differences between the difficulty level colourings, which also affect our hero's hair colour and outfit. It's an odd observation to realize, but there you go. The only real established luxury here is the ending cutscene, where our tough jungle teen-aged alpha male gets kissed by, as well as a declaration of love from the girl he has rescued, and goes all red-faced.
Possibly the most curious graphical design decision is in the two bookending trees, the first of which is extravagantly detailed, and the latter of which is severely limited in detail; there are no other visible trees in the entire game. Then again, it makes the game much clearer than with an endless forest in the background. That said, the background graphics aren't as boring as they first may seem, because there are two distinctly different layers in both top and bottom thirds of the screen, which use parallax scrolling - one of the first games ever to use such a technique. Apart from the very last level, parallax scrolling has been put to good use. From other mentionable details, there are two clearly different crocodile designs, two different-looking streaming bubbles, a clear wall at the end of level 2, two different types of boulders bouncing down level 3, and a huge boulder at the end of level 3 on which you jump.
|Screenshots from the first arcade modification, Jungle Hunt.|
For Jungle Hunt, the title screen was only altered for the necessary part. The rest of the game is very much similar to Jungle King, but our protagonist is made to look more similar (not exactly the same, though) for each level within a difficulty level, and the vines in the first level have a different pattern in them. And then, of course, the ending cutscene features the intrepid archaeologist, instead of the young jungle boy. Apart from the ending, which is more awkwardly funny than it is childishly charming, Jungle Hunt has a more solid style than Jungle King.
|Screenshots from the second arcade modification, Pirate Pete.|
Pirate Pete, on the other hand, is a very different thing altogether, and you can see it already from the title screen, which has a very piratey treasure chest occupying the whole screen, with the game title written in large green capital letters on the side of the chest; also, the background is blue instead of green, which is only fitting. Level 1 takes place on a very long pirate ship, on which you jump from rope to rope, that are hanging from masts. It's a fun, complete overhaul to the graphics, and it shows how well the game's story lends itself to other possible themes. The other levels aren't quite as much overhauled, but the crocodiles have been changed to sharks or something resembling sharks, the river bottom is now more fittingly themed to a pirate adventure, there are snakes hanging from the treeline at the top of the screen in level 3, and the non-playable characters in level 4 have been thematically altered to fit this game, and there's a cliff instead of a tree on the left side of the screen. Naturally, the ending cutscene has been completely altered to fit the pirate theme. Just to be clear, only Jungle Hunt from the arcade versions will have any significance on the scores.
|Screenshots from Atari 5200 (top half) and Atari 400/800 (bottom half) versions.|
From Atari's home conversions, the A5200 and 400/800 versions were created more or less as one, with only the least possible alterations between the two based on necessity. Because the A5200's controller had a numpad, similar to that on the Intellivision and Colecovision, the title screen's options menu was made to utilise the controller's # and * buttons to alter the player numbers and the difficulty level. That, and the additional boot screen on the A5200 version are the only real differences between the two. The palette seems to be slightly different between the two machines, although that might have something to do with a different emulator I was using. But basically, the differences are inconsequential.
Compared to the original, there is notably less use of detail and colour, but more importantly, less of parallax scrolling, the only minor evidences of it being in the swimming segment, where the waves and the underwater bits scroll at a different speed. The colour alterations for the different difficulty levels aren't quite as drastic as in the original, but they do their job well enough. A solid point over any of the arcade versions is gained by having our protagonist look exactly the same in each level, even with a new difficulty level. Also, graphically, the title screen is practically unworthy of a mention.
|Screenshots from the Commodore 64 version.|
The C64 version is more or less a direct port of the A5200/400/800 versions, but with often poorer choices of colours and more jittery scrolling, although it's less visible on a CRT television. Then again, the game is designed to be played on an NTSC system, which is why the scrolling looks so horrible on a European C64, which plays the game slower. I admit to being a bit partial to this version, since I grew up with it, but comparing it now to the source material and its competitors, the C64 could have easily done a lot better.
|Screenshots from the Atari 2600 version. Top row: NTSC title sequence. Middle row: PAL in-game screens.|
Bottom row: NTSC in-game screens.
If you're familiar with the A2600, you'll know that the lack of detail and colour doesn't equate to a lack of action. Jungle Hunt on the old A2600 is fast and furious, and more impressively, you get some parallax scrolling for all four levels. Being the prehistoric monster that the A2600 is, this is a fairly impressive game on it, although naturally, it doesn't really compare all that favorably to some of the versions that take good advantage of better hardware.
|Screenshots from the Apple II version.|
With a decided lack of colours, the APPLE version doesn't look like much, either, but it does use some preliminary parallax scrolling in levels 2 and 3. You do have to play it in a colour TV mode to not strain your eyes on the striped and dotted graphics. The most interesting thing about the APPLE version is the title screen, which offers a rare rendition of the original title logo in a home conversion, and it's drawn up from the ground as the revealing technique. The most disappointing thing here is the lack of change in graphics to go with further difficulty levels.
|Screenshots from the PC Booter (DOS) version. Top to bottom: CGA RGB, CGA composite, EGA.|
Because I was unable to get the PC booter version working properly in all modes, most of the screenshots in the above set are taken from MobyGames and old-games.ru, so thanks to whoever provided the pictures there. I did get to play this version in regular CGA mode, though, so I can at least give my commentary based on that.
Despite the odd choices of colours in the CGA composite screenshots above (not my choice), the composite mode is obviously the best choice, since not only can it combine the alternating vertical lines to make the colours look more natural, but it also has different colour schemes, which can apparently be chosen with Alt+F11 in DOSbox, although I couldn't get that to work with the CGA mode. The regular CGA mode itself works a bit on and off, with some odd occasional whiteness seated at a somewhat random horizontal level (as you can see in the screenshots), and if you go in full screen mode, the screen might not revive itself after a death. It's a rare occurrence, but still a major annoyance when it happens. Neither the CGA or EGA modes are particularly nice to look at, but the native CGA mode actually fits the game better than the more advanced EGA mode.
With wide pixels and an inherent lack of colours, the details of the surrounding jungle look like seaweed porridge or something even less appealing. However, levels 2 and 3 feature parallax scrolling, which gives you some hope of how much better the game would look in action on a CGA composite monitor. At the core, the graphics mimic the ATARI 5200/400/800 and C64 versions in as much as they are able to, but there are a couple of small attempts at getting some points with one of the rare occasions of having the original arcade title screen featured in unmistakable DOS form (no animation here), and the supersized boulder at the end of level 3.
|Screenshots from the Colecovision version.|
Similarly to the A5200 version, the COLECO version has an additional boot screen to show the Atari logo and the copyrights. The options screen has a unique quirk in having the possibility to switch both text and background colours with the numpad keys 7 to 9. The in-game graphics are, apart from yourself, lacking in colour and detail, but they're otherwise rather pretty to look at, being hi-res. Some oddities worth mentioning are the straight vines, the monkeys that are bigger than yourself and the flashing natives. Flashing, as in the two natives cannot fully occupy the same screen due to the amount of colours they use, so they flash to get them both there. When there's any attempt at parallax scrolling, the effect is ruined by the second layer's jerkiness, but mostly, everything scrolls at the same speed in the same layer. Also, the river graphics are in the background instead of the usual foreground.
|Screenshots from the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A version.|
The TI-99/4A version is rather pretty on surface, but it doesn't attempt to do anything particularly interesting. There is no parallax scrolling, the crocodiles only flow straight, and the big boulders in level 3 jump only as high as the little boulders. However, the colours are vibrant if relatively scarce, and some of the background details are nice regardless of the limited use of colours.
|Screenshots from the Commodore VIC-20 version.|
Our final contestant is the VIC-20 version, which also has a rather limited amount of colours in use (five at maximum), but considering the hardware, it's surprisingly impressive, much like the A2600 version. Level 3 even has some parallax scrolling, although it's barely noticeable. But all the necessary graphical elements from the original game are included, albeit in over-simplified form to make it all work on the VIC-20. Sure, most of the end-level gimmicks are missing, but all the action elements are there. The screenshots here look awkward and super-wide-pixeled, but VICE takes the screenshots that way even when playing in NTSC mode, which is how Jungle Hunt is supposed to be played.
None of the home conversions of Jungle Hunt really get everything right, but considering the timeframe they pulled this off for so many machines, wonders could not be expected. The thing is, though, because Atarisoft were responsible for the official ports, it will come as no particular surprise, that the most considerable effort, at least concerning graphics, was put into all ATARI ports. The C64 and DOS (CGA composite) versions aren't far behind, but neither are the TI-99, VIC-20 and COLECO versions. The most overall disappointing version regarding graphics is the APPLE one, and while the A2600 version isn't exactly pretty, it certainly puts on a good effort to give the versions of other less fortunate systems a run for their money. Here's how I feel they rank against each other:
2. ATARI 5200 / ATARI 400/800
3. COMMODORE 64
4. ATARI 2600
6. VIC-20 / COLECOVISION
7. PC BOOTER
8. APPLE II
One of the greatest things about the original Jungle King is the sampled Tarzan yell at the beginning of level 1, which was replaced by a goofy little fanfare for Jungle Hunt to escape the copyright issue. All the other 17 mostly undescribable sound effects that I counted in both Jungle King and Jungle Hunt are the same. Pirate Pete has pretty much all the same sound effects, except it seems the third level has some additional sound effects in it, to go with the added snakes in the treeline.
As for the music in the ARCADE versions, Jungle King and Jungle Hunt share the same childish up-tempo adventure march for the first three levels, and the fourth level features simulated native drumming for the background. Obviously, I mentioned the fanfare in Jungle Hunt, which replaced the Tarzan scream from Jungle King, but there is also another song that got switched, most likely due to copyright issues, and that is the completion song, which was a rendition of Cliff Richard's "Congratulations" in Jungle King, replaced by something that sounds like a lullaby on steroids in Jungle Hunt. Pirate Pete features no music for levels 2 and 3, and the starting fanfare, level 1 music and the congratulations song are all different from both previous versions of the game - of course, more thematically fitting there.
One might think that the biggest effort from the home conversions is heard in the more advanced ATARI versions and the C64 version, but let's see. On the mentioned platforms, most of the game is just sound effects, of which there aren't all that many: I managed to count eleven different sound effects for the entire game, which is six less than in the original. Some of the sound effects are a bit overdone, such as the vine swinging noise, while others feel a bit underwhelming, such as the usual "boom" of death. There's an odd issue in the ATARI 5200 and 400/800 versions, in that the third level (the one with the bouncing boulders) only has constant white noise, as opposed to the thumping of the boulders. I can even report the original cartridge having the same oddity, so it could be an issue with the code. The C64 version also has its own faults, since all of the music in it feels slightly out of tune, which is odd, since most Atari games I've ever played have that problem, while Jungle Hunt is in the minority that doesn't have tuning problems in the music. And since I'm now speaking of music, you don't get any running theme in these versions - there's only the starting fanfare, the level completion fanfare and the ending music, all of which are simplified versions of those from the ARCADE Jungle Hunt. One more oddity regarding the C64 version's music concerns the level completion fanfare: the first five notes are programmed to sound as one long note. Sure, this badness has its own charm, but let's keep this strict and proper.
The actual theme tune has only been ported into the VIC-20 and PC BOOTER versions, of all possible things, but it gets played only in the two levels: the first and last in the VIC-20 version, and the first and third in the PC version. Or at least I think so. The PC version uses, as you would expect, a single-channel beeper, which doesn't make the sonic experience of the port particularly inviting, when it tries too hard, which is half of the time. There's more than enough of blurpy and beepy sound effects for the two middle levels, but with music in the latter one, it's a bit of a mess, unfortunately. So it kind of fits the bill, really. The VIC-20 version doesn't surprise with any unusual trickstery, but it's a fairly solid effort with clear sound effects playing on top of the single-channel music, which is already nicer than the PC version, and there are nine distinctly different sound effects, against the PC version's yet undisclosed number of random utterances. The level completion fanfare is different from the original in both cases, but at least the starting fanfare and the ending pseudo-lullaby have been kept single-channeledly intact.
To me, the ATARI 2600 version offers the most interesting optional soundscape for Jungle Hunt. You get the same fanfare for each level to start with, not just one or two of them. There is no other particularly musical piece in the entire game, but you do get some sort of a constant noise that is mildly reminiscent of a radar beeping in level 2, and the final level features a loop of two similarly rhythmed melodies that are probably meant to resemble three different pitches of jungle drums. In addition to those, there are eight different sound effects in the game, all of which have more oomph and meaning to them than the versions in the more advanced ATARIs and the C64. Rather peculiar and slightly more minimalistic, but when it works with that idea, it works really well. However, since it doesn't feature all that many things from the ARCADE original, I'm forced to place it at a relatively low spot. But make no mistake, I am rather pleased with this version.
Which is something you definitely cannot say of the APPLE version. Singularly, it has music in the title screen, which plays after the title logo has been fully drawn onto the screen. It's actually an almost unrecognizable rendition of the usual theme tune that plays in all levels of the ARCADE Jungle Hunt. On the plus side, the APPLE version features two different fanfares and the ending tune, but they've all been arranged for the single-channel beeper in such a way that some of the notes are way more off than in the C64 version. On the minus side, most of the sound effects are high-pitched chirps and tick-noises, but there are some slightly less high-pitched beeps as well. Overall, it's only just a bit more bearable than the PC BOOTER version, but that's the best one can say about it.
Two left, and I'll go with the COLECO version now, which actually starts off with an odd booting noise, but I don't know if you can count it as part of the game. Luckily, things soon get a lot better, and you can hear from the first notes of the opening fanfare, that the COLECO version is sound quality-wise the closest that we can get to the original on a home gaming platform. This gets further proved by the more realistic sound effects than any ATARI or COMMODORE port could produce. You get no main theme playing anywhere in the game, which is the only fault I can find here, but then it's missing from most other versions as well, so it's a small worry.
Finally, we get to the TI-99/4A version. For being such a technically advanced machine, at least compared to machines like VIC-20, ATARI 2600 and even the IBM-PC compatibles at that point, the TI-99/4A version of Jungle Hunt takes little advantage of that, at least in terms of sounds. Sure, there is clear multi-channel sonic action here, but the sound effects are lazily made to use barely more than one pitch for the entire game; I'd hazard a guess that even the un-pitched noises use the same pitches. At least they are clearly defined for each purpose, but it's a bit boring to listen to, to be brutally honest. The music is scarce, and only the level completion fanfare is taken straight from the source material. It's not as bad as the APPLE and PC BOOTER versions, but it doesn't really bring anything worth considering into the already exhausted mix of Jungle Hunt versions.
Being such a mixed bag, I'm happy to say it's easy to determine the order of quality here.
3. ATARI 5200 / ATARI 400/800
4. COMMODORE 64
5. COMMODORE VIC-20
6. ATARI 2600
8. APPLE II
9. PC BOOTER
For a change, here's a comparison video, courtesy of Gaming History Source on YouTube, who compiled this video in February 2013. It should be noted, though, that the DOS version there is exactly the same version I was playing for this comparison, so it's played in CGA-RGB mode, although it's almost certainly designed to be played in composite mode. The reason for this should be clear, if you've read everything else so far. Also, the video doesn't include footage of the original Jungle King or the third version called Pirate Pete. Even more also, the C64 version is played in PAL mode using an emulator (as most other versions are, actually), so the jittery scrolling is clearly visible. Thanks again for the permission, and for the available video.
Because the above doesn't show you all three arcade versions, I also dug up this video from the World of Longplays archive on YouTube, giving you footage of the missing two arcade versions.
Although the official versions of Jungle Hunt and its original variations have now been practically dealt with, the article is not quite over. We still have some more Jungle Hunting to go through in less official capacity, but first, let's take care of the traditional mathematical overall scores, and let's see if we all agree with them or not.
1. ARCADE: Playability 8, Graphics 8, Sounds 9 = TOTAL 25
2. ATARI 5200/400/800: Playability 6, Graphics 7, Sounds 7 = TOTAL 20
3. COMMODORE 64: Playability 6, Graphics 6, Sounds 6 = TOTAL 18
4. COMMODORE VIC-20: Playability 7, Graphics 3, Sounds 5 = TOTAL 15
5. COLECOVISION: Playability 4, Graphics 3, Sounds 8 = TOTAL 15
6. ATARI 2600: Playability 5, Graphics 5, Sounds 4 = TOTAL 14
7. TI-99/4A: Playability 2, Graphics 4, Sounds 3 = TOTAL 9
8. PC BOOTER: Playability 3, Graphics 2, Sounds 1 = TOTAL 6
9. APPLE II: Playability 1, Graphics 1, Sounds 2 = TOTAL 4
I have to be honest: if it were just up to my personal feelings right now, I wouldn't put the C64 and more advanced ATARI versions quite as high as that, but it could be that I'm just a bit bored with them. Really, the VIC-20, A2600 and COLECO versions offer something much more interesting, even though each of them has their notable faults. But Jungle Hunt is a peculiar game in a sense, that even though there are some odd lacks of quality in all versions, they still manage to retain some sort of a charm about them that you can't help but feel slightly uplifted when playing even the worst versions of it. But I'd be lying if I didn't recommend the better ones more.
SOME MORE JUNGLE HUNTING
Because Atarisoft didn't cover all the possible market, and because Jungle Hunt is such an iconic game, people have been trying to get the game in some form on some of the platforms that were left without a port. Atarisoft's official Jungle Hunt ports were also intended to have an Intellivision release, but it was unreleased due to the North American video game crash in 1983, like many other Atarisoft titles for the machine. Naturally, this brings us to our first in the series of "some more Jungle Hunting", since there was also an unofficial port being made for the Mattel Intellivision by CollectorVision in 2019, but apart from a cartridge of the unfinished version manufactured for members of the "Intelligent Club", the port was left at 85% when it was canned. However, you can see footage of the game on YouTube at ArcadeUSA's channel, if you care to see it in action. Now, let's move on to the released ones.
Jungle Queen (ZoSo Software, 1984; TRS-80 CoCo)
Our first of many unlicenced, but published Jungle Hunt clones was made by David Shipka for the TRS-80 Color Computer in 1984. Unfortunately, I was unable to make any of my FOUR currently installed TRS-80 and/or DRAGON emulators to get a disk image of this game co-operating, so the screenshots are taken from a YouTube video that was made by a user called ogStevieStrow.
|Screenshots from Jungle Queen for TRS-80.|
Jungle King (Load 'n' Run, 1985; ZX Spectrum)
The next unofficial Jungle Hunt versions was written by Luca Bordoni, who wrote some rather basic things back in the 1980's and has recently resurfaced with much more playable games authored with AGDX; his version of Dragonfire for the Spectrum was featured in the game's comparison, just to mention one. Jungle King, peculiarly named after the original arcade game, was released on a covertape of the Italian computer magazine Load 'n' Run in 1985.
|Screenshots from Jungle King for ZX Spectrum.|
Being a fairly basic game, it doesn't really play all that well, but the resemblance is fair, and at least it gets the scrolling direction right. Controlling the jungle king is awkward at best, and impossible at worst. I couldn't get past level 3, but getting even there seemed like an epic battle, because getting through level 1 requires precise timing - nothing else. Level 2 is simple enough, similar to the A2600 port, but easier, only the controls are different than for level 1. I couldn't find the jump key for level 3, which is why the last screen is missing a shot, but you can clearly see that it takes after the A2600 version more than expected. Perhaps because it was simpler to make it that way. So, not very recommendable, unfortunately.
Jungle Boy (Byte Back, 1991; Atari ST + Commodore Amiga)
About 6 years later, Cloud Nine Developments wrote a series of lacklustre unlicenced arcade ports for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga, Jungle Boy being the obvious Jungle Hunt clone. Similarly to too many other 8-bit originals that were attempted to get prettier and more commercially viable for the 16-bit machines, Jungle Boy lacked in playability as much as it did in actual charm, even though the graphics were admittedly much more tuned for the contemporary 16-bit gamers.
|Screenshots from the Atari ST version of Jungle Boy.|
Jungle Queen (Gabriele Amore, 2020; ZX Spectrum)
Easily the most recent addition to the list of unofficial Jungle Hunt versions comes from the Spectrum scene, although this one goes far enough to be considered more of a tribute than a direct port, which is why I didn't include it in the credits list at the top of this page. Like Luca Bordoni's more recent games, Gabriele Amore's Jungle Queen is authored with AGDX, and it feels much like it, too. But that's not necessarily a bad thing with games like these; it is a little bit buggy, though, which eats up some of the enjoyment you might get from this one. Then again, the first full version of this one was released on the 3rd of this month (April, 2020), and I expect bugfixes will happen at some point.
|Screenshots from Jungle Queen for ZX Spectrum.|
The most glaring difference to all the other versions of Jungle Hunt is, that the scrolling direction is wrong, but I have no idea if it's a design decision or something that using AGDX necessitates. Not that the scrolling direction really matters, but it feels a bit odd in the context. Level 1 feels like a gamble, since the vines can be often placed so far away from you, that it'll be often impossible to get through the level before Game Over. If you ever get to level 2, your mission is actually to kill a number of crocodiles, instead of just get to the other side of the river. Level 3 gets you familiarly jumping over rolling boulders, but the actual mission is to not only kill a number of birds, but you also need to collect the chicken items they drop after they die. The final level requires you to jump over four natives and... well, since you're actually playing as the Queen of the Jungle, you can hardly fail to make a guess, who you're saving this time. Although there are certainly enough faults in this version, the music is great and the graphics are funny, which kind of saves it. All in all, Gabriele Amore's Jungle Queen has good potential, but it needs to be heavily bugfixed.
That's it for now, hope you enjoyed this piece of nonsense. If you can think of any other unofficial Jungle Hunt ports that I might have overlooked, or if you can help me get the TRS-80 version working, throw me a comment below. Until next time, whenever that may be - cheerio and happy remains of Easter!