Jungle River Cruise
Jungle River Cruise was one of only two games made specifically for Atari's Puffer Project (Tumbleweeds) was the other). So what is the Puffer Project you ask? Well basically the Puffer was an exercise bike that was hooked up to an Atari 400/800 or 5200 system. The player would control which direction they would move by using two specially designed hand controllers, while the actual motion was controlled by how fast the player peddled. Sound a bit far fetched? Well as it turns out Atari was once again ahead of their time.
The philosophy behind the Puffer was to try and make exercising fun. Atari figured that if players had to interact physically with the game their enjoyment would increase while their waistlines decreased. Given the problem of obesity in most video game players today, Atari might have been onto something. However since the player was basically using the exercise bike as a giant controller normal games couldn't be used with the Puffer (although Atari did try and adapt Ms. Pac-Man and Pole Position to use the Puffer), so a series of new games had to be created specifically for the Puffer. The second of these new games was Jungle River Cruise.
As the name implies, Jungle River Cruise is boating game in which the player must move paddleboat down a jungle river. However unlike Tumbleweeds Jungle River Cruise is an action game, not a leisurely simulation. As you steer your paddleboat down river you must rescue stranded explorers who are in danger of being killed by alligators, jungle snakes, and deadly spear throwing natives. Sound a lot better than Tumbleweeds? You bet!
Much like Tumbleweeds the player must guide the character (this time a boat) by using the controller buttons on the handlebars and propel it by peddling the bike. However unlike Tumbleweeds Jungle River Cruise uses an overhead view instead of a first person perspective. The upper 3/4ths of the screen shows where the boat is going, while the bottom quarter shows a side view which indicates how deep the boat is in the water. This is important as your boat can only hold six passengers before sinking.
Jungle River Cruise can best be described as a mixture of River Raid and Choplifter (if you can picture that hats off to ya!). As you slowly paddle down the river you must carefully maneuver the boat alongside of stranded explorers to rescue them (points are deducted for mowing them down!). After collecting the explorers you can return them safely to the dock for points. Obviously Jungle River Cruise requires a bit more finesse than Tumbleweeds as steering the boat while peddling isn't an easy task.
Unfortunately unlike Tumbleweeds which is a complete game, Jungle River Cruise was only in the middle stages of development before the Puffer project was stopped. There are no enemies to harass the boat, so your only task is rescue explorers that will wait patiently for you to pick them up. Although there may not be alot to do in the game, Jungle River Cruise shows that the Puffer could do action games as well as simulation games. Personally I'm waiting for the Puffer version of Track and Field, now that would be a blast.
Picture courtesy of Atari Gaming Headquarters