Buzz! Jr. Jungle Party

Mini-Games for Mini-Gamers

Buzz Jr.: Jungle Party packs a decent amount of fun and distraction into a cheap package -- provided you already have Buzz!.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: November 4, 2007
Let's just get this out of the way right now: Buzz Jr., as the name implies, indicates games that use the little controllers from Buzz! The Mega Quiz and uses them for a handful of mini-games made specifically for the younger crowd. Now, that doesn't mean Jungle Party can't be played by adults, but from the cutesy announcer to the simplistic controls and easy-to-grasp gameplay types, if you've reached double-digit age, then you're starting to move beyond the target market for the game (despite the fact that it's rated E10+).

Jungle Party certainly doesn't put on airs. 25 mini-games that all revolve around using either the big red buzzer button at the top of the controller or the four colored buttons are all you'll get when you plunk down the cash for the game. That means you'll be able to digest games variants on whack-a-mole, spot-the-difference, a handful of color-matching games, a version of darts, and so on. The games as a whole are mildly entertaining if you're playing solo, but the only way to actually experience all of the games (and really the only way you should be playing Jungle Party) is to jump in with four people and get a proper family-wide multiplayer game going.

On the one hand, this provides the best punch while you're playing because it's against other people (single-player just throws solo challenges at you), but it also opens up some of the game's more competitive offerings. There are plenty of risk vs. reward games where you're asked to hang onto a bomb or an anvil while parachuting or stay in front while sliding down tree branches or keeping your head in a lion's mouth for as long as possible before hitting a cut-off, be it an explosion or the ground or an errant branch or a chomp from a big cat.

As fun as those challenges are, it also illustrates one of Jungle Party's biggest weaknesses: the same concept is recycled far too often. There's only so many ways you can present a hot potato-style gameplay type, or the four-way shoot-out, or a quick-fire color matching exercise before the games start to blend together. Though there are more than two dozen game types available, the actual list of offerings shrinks considerably when you consider the similarities.

Jungle Party's presentation is actually surprisingly good. The monkeys are wonderfully animated (it's amazing to say that, but just the transitions between celebratory or idle animations are damned impressive) and thanks to the smaller scope of the challenges, the texture work and jungle environments are handled with plenty of flair. The audio is what you'd expect from a jungle-themed game, plenty of monkey screeches, lots of heavy drum-driven and tropical-sounding tunes and a slightly raspy-voiced female announcer that is almost sickeningly sweet to the player. Cute, sure, and definitely appropriate for kids, but adults might be scrambling for the mute button at times.

Again, though, I do understand this is a game for kids, and as such, it certainly provides a nice rush of playing alongside other people. In fact, I'm going to take the game along for the Holidays this year when I visit family just because I know it'll be a hit with the kids (and, for that matter, The Mega Quiz for adults). Part of me wishes there were just a bit more variety, but what's here is certainly good enough to get everyone around the TV for a few rounds regardless of age, and that's precisely what good games are all about.
The Verdict