Buzz Jr. Jungle Party Review

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Publisher: Sony
Developer: Magenta Software and FreeStyle Games

Platform: PlayStation 2
Reviewed on PlayStation 2

Every day in the jungle is a party. At least in this jungle. And every party involves monkeys falling from the sky, being electrocuted or hurling bananas at one another. Fortunately, they never get hurt (at least, permanently). The party is also controlled solely with Sony's new buzzer controllers for the PlayStation 2.

Kyle Ackerman

Buzz!: The Mega Quiz is not the only game to introduce the "Buzz! Buzzers" PlayStation 2 controllers to North American Gamers. Buzz Jr. Jungle Party is a party game that uses the same controllers to bring basic party game fun to up to four younger players. While Buzz!: The Mega Quiz is a solid and entertaining trivia game, Buzz Jr. Jungle Party is a decidedly mediocre party game.

Party game is a general term, and people sometimes include games like the SingStar franchise in "party games," by which they mean a game that can be brought out at a party. Typically, party games are games in which several players compete in a series of brief (and often outrageous) games. Think Mario Party, or virtually any other game with "party" in the title. It's a genre perfect for little kids or those of us raised on MTV and WarioWare.

In the case of Buzz Jr. Jungle Party, the games are obligatorily outrageous. A lot of them involve monkeys falling from precipitous heights (sometimes weighed down by anvils), or things like trying to fart as much as possible (but only when a hot-tubbing gorilla sleeps). And the games are suitably brief. The problem is that the buzzer controller that this game embraces makes it less fun as a party game.

When is a Big Red Button Bad?

If there's one criticism of the trivia game Buzz! The Mega Quiz, it's that it just didn't use the big red button on the buzzer controllers nearly enough. Buzz Jr. Jungle Party does. A set of four buzzer controllers plug into the PlayStation 2 USB port, each with one big red button and four smaller, color-coded buttons. A lot of the games just involve slapping or holding down the flashing red button. That's satisfying. It's just that in many of the games, your input doesn't feel important enough. And others don't work as well because they are limited to the buzzer controller.

One game seems perfect (if slightly cruel to primates) when described. Four monkeys are stuck in electric chairs – hit the red button when the red light is above your monkey's chair and you get to choose another monkey to electrocute. Enough jolts, and that monkey is out of the game. The problem is, it's pure luck. You just keep slamming the button until someone gets it – there's no sense of control (and that's important, even for the smallest kids).

Make Gamers Feel Important!

Another game has players taking free kicks at a soccer goal. Players take turns kicking and defending. It seems like there should be a lot more skill involved, but each player just guesses at a corner. It leaves the player feeling empty, as it's more "pick a number between one and four" than a game of skill. A lot of games would benefit from just using the PlayStation 2 controller. Lots of games have players aiming and throwing with a sequence of repeated button presses. It's challenging, but frustrating to kids and casual gamers in places where the analog stick would be intuitive.

Buzz Jr. Jungle Party is certainly cute. Players get one of four differently colored monkeys and are rewarded with copious bananas. The humor is spot-on for little kids, although parents who want to avoid cartoonish violence and fart humor might want to give this game a pass. The simple problem is that the Buzz! Buzzers handicap this game, making it pale in comparison to other party games. The ideas and execution behind Buzz Jr. Jungle Party are good. The controllers fail to hold up their end of the bargain.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on November 2, 2007 5:54 PM.

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