Jungle King / Jungle Hunt

Jungle King / Jungle Hunt

Retro Coin Op Synopsis

In retrospect, maybe the Tarzan yell was a bit much…

Jungle King wasn’t the first video game hit with a lawsuit over character copyrights (that honor went to a giant ape with a strangely familiar name, Donkey Kong), but this Taito hit had the ignominious distinction of being the first to lose. When it arrived in arcades, Jungle King starred a bare-chested jungle lord in loincloth, swinging from vine to vine on the way to rescue a kidnapped beauty. That alone may have earned an arched eyebrow from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ heirs, but the familiar Tarzan yell (heard at the start of every game) sent them over the edge.

The heirs sued Taito, and after less than a year in the arcades, Jungle King was forced to undergo a major makeover. Gone was the handsome jungle king, replaced by a safari explorer in a pith helmet and shorts. The swinging vines were changed to ropes, and the yell was replaced by jungle-themed music. Now renamed Jungle Hunt, the game couldn’t regain all the confused fans who had originally flocked to Jungle King.

Those gamers who stuck out the new name and new look discovered that nothing else had changed. Jungle Hunt was still the thrilling, multi-stage adventure that Jungle King had been. The game still began with the vine/rope swing, as our hero tried to time his leaps to avoid falling to his death.

In the second stage, the jungle man braved a river filled with mighty crocodiles, swimming closer to his lady love. The explorer came equipped with a knife, but the crocs could only be killed if their mouths were closed or half-open. Adding to the danger were the bubbles rising from the river’s floor, which would hold our hero powerless if they hit him, carrying him up to the surface (and possibly into the jaws of a hungry croc). The hero could also only hold his breath for so long, forcing him to swim for the surface every so often to get more air.

After the river level, the action moved to an avalanche-plagued mountain. As our hero ran uphill, boulders both small and large tumbled down toward him. The little ones could be hopped over fairly easily, but unless your timing was precise, you were better off ducking under the biggies.

On the fourth and final stage, the intrepid explorer finally caught sight of his lady love, but she was guarded by two angry, spear-carrying cannibals. As the cannibals moved left and right, our hero tried to jump over them, hoping to avoid a raised spear. Once both cannibals were hurdled, the hero leaped up to rescue the roped-up beauty, saving her from being lowered into a bubbling stewpot.

Once all stages were cleared, the game began again, but with increased difficulty. Monkeys now tried to knock the hero from his swing, the crocs and boulders got more numerous, and another cannibal showed up on the last stage to hurl spears at the jungle man.

Jungle King/Hunt’s legal troubles may have kept it from achieving all the success it deserved in the arcades, but home versions offered some redemption. Still, if it hadn’t been for that one little (okay, not so little) yell, the game might well have become a true king of the arcade jungle.

Arcade Machine Release History

1982 - Jungle King
1982 - Jungle Hunt

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