If you've ever stepped foot into an arcade then your familiar with Taito's smash hit Jungle Hunt, but did you know your character wasn't always an English explorer? Jungle Hunt started out as Jungle King in which you played the role of Tarzan. Although the rest of the gameplay was pretty much the same, at the end of the third stage a giant boulder would fall down and your character would jump up on it and give the famous Tarzan yell. Apparently the lawyers didn't think this was too funny, because the owners of the Tarzan trademark sued Taito. In the end Taito changed the main character to a non-descript explorer and volia! Jungle Hunt was born.
Jungle Hunt is an action game that takes place over four completely different stages (a rarity back in those days). As with most games back in the 80's there's some story about your girl being kidnapped by some evil group of thugs (in this case cannibals) and it's up to you to save her (insert generic plot here). Of course the instruction manual never really gives you any background on who you are or why this particular girl is worth risking your life, but for the sake of argument lets assume she has big knockers or something and move on.
Stage 1 - The Deadly Jungle
Ok who were the marketing geniuses that thought of this name? Why exactly is this jungle so deadly? I'll tell you why, because it's got man eating grass that's why! Your character (I prefer to call him Generic English Explorer or GEE for short) must swing from vine to vine while being careful not to slip. For you see, one false move and the deadly man eating grass will get ya. Don't believe me? Just fall down and see what happens! Deadly grass aside, timing the vines just right is the key to passing this stage. Jump too early or too late and you're grass food. On higher levels you'll encounter monkeys on the vines that will throw you down to the ground if you touch them. Your only recourse against the monkeys is to wait for them to slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) move up the vine and jump underneath them. Once you pass ten vines (remember when you die you start back one vine) you'll jump off and dive into.
Stage 2- Reptile River
Ok so they weren't too creative with the stage names in this game, but at least the gameplay is good. On this stage GEE must swim through a crocodile infested river and reach the other side. Although you're armed with a knife, it's often far easier to avoid the crocodiles all together rather than trying to kill them. However if must shed blood then make sure you don't hit them when their jaws are open all the way or you're crocodile food. The crocs on the lower levels of the river are worth more points, but watch out for the rogue crocs that move in quickly in erratic patterns. Also watch your air meter if you decide to take a dive, because if you run out of air you'll loose a life. Every now and then you'll run into some strange looking air bubbles coming up from the bottom of the screen, this is the 'Mysterious Murk' (no I didn't make that up!). Touching the murk isn't deadly, but it will trap you and slowly bring you up to the surface. When you're trapped by the murk you can't move or use your knife so you're sort of a sitting duck. Be careful around the murk (it's mysterious for gods sake!). After reaching the far bank of the river you'll arrive at.
Stage 3 - Boulder Field
What no Hill of Deadly Rocks or Mountain of Doom? I guess Boulder Field will have to do (even though it's a hill not a field). On this stage GEE must climb up a gigantic hill while avoiding massive amounts of rolling boulders. Boulders come in two sizes: Small and Extra Large. The small boulders are quite easy to jump over and shouldn't pose a problem unless encountered in pairs (that requires some careful timing), but extra large boulders are trouble. While it is possible to jump over the large boulders if you time it correctly, it's often easier to just duck under them. By running up to the boulder and ducking, the boulder will bounce over your head (assuming you timed it correctly). Ducking under small boulders is possible, but not recommended since it's pointless and difficult. After jumping a set number of boulders you'll finally arrive at:
Stage 4 - Cannibal Camp
Doesn't this stage sound like some really bad B horror flick? Anyway, the end is in sight and now it's up to GEE to rescue his girl (let's call her Generic English Explorers Girl or GEEG). All that's standing between GEE and GEEG are two very dorky looking cannibals. Now normally this would be cause for alarm, I mean after all they are armed with sharp pointy sticks. But for whatever reason these cannibals just seem to want to dance (don't all cannibals really just want to dance?). Because of this all you have to do is do a running jump over them when their spears are down. Clear both cannibals (not at the same time dummy!), and you're home free! Just jump at touch your girl when she's low enough (for god's sake don't jump into the cauldron) and you're on your way to the next stage. Exactly how do you escape from the cannibal camp anyway?
Why is it that the girl always gets kidnapped again and again? I mean after the second time wouldn't you just call it quits and go home? Just how stupid is she anyway? Alas these questions never seem to get answered. Oh well, chalk it up to the generic video game plot I suppose. Genero-plot aside, Jungle Hunt is a great game and really shines on the 400/800 (this time the hill actually goes up!). However the non-centering sticks don't really seem to hinder the gameplay too much except for the cannibal stage (even then its just a matter of being careful). Jungle Hunt is just another example of how the 400/800 was truly the system of choice for quality arcade ports.