Title  : Tarzan
Platforms  : Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation
Publisher  : Activision
ESRB Rating  : Everyone
Game Rating  : 7.3
Review by  : Ken Gagne

Jungle Hunt was an Atari game about overcoming the wilderness. Players would leap from vine to vine, battle alligators, and avoid falling boulders to save the damsel in distress. 

All that can now be done on the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation, in Tarzan, a video game published by Activision. Based on the animated Disney movie, the game adheres to a common gameplay format. Despite excellent presentation, the repetitive challenge will bore most gamers. [Nintendo 64 version reviewed here.] 

The gameplay is fun, but totally uninspired. Disney games have followed the same format for nearly the last decade, since Aladdin was released for the Super Nintendo. In keeping with that tradition, Tarzan runs from left to right, occasionally ducking in and out of scenery for a total of two-and-a-half dimensions. There are vines to swing from, rhinos to bounce off, and icons to collect. Other levels have Tarzan or Jane running before a stampede of elephants (or Simba escaping a stampede of wildebeests — same thing). Even those levels in which Tarzan goes tree-surfing consists of nothing more than "lean left, lean right, jump, duck" action. 

There are many goals to each of the thirteen levels. The main goal is to reach the level's end, along with defeating any boss characters there may be (such as the leopard Sabor). Hidden along the way are picture scraps, which grant access to a bonus level when pieced together. Finding the letters to spell Tarzan's name earns players the right to view a still image taken from the movie, with text telling the accompanying story – not too exciting. 

Disney took some liberties to convert the movie to an action-packed video game. Instead of making friends with his fellow jungle animals, Tarzan must attack each one he sees, throwing fruit and slashing with his knife. I don't know what other challenges I'd expect Tarzan to encounter, but attacking the wildlife doesn't seem to fit in this game. Otherwise, the game is simple and fun enough, though the lack of variety will soon disenchant older players. 

The light-hearted gameplay is accompanied by a whimsical soundtrack. Plays on the movie soundtrack can be heard, while characters meet victory or defeat with digitized speech. The quantity of voice samples is impressive, with a young Tarzan receiving regular guidance from his ape sister, Terk. 

The graphics are of quality one would expect from Disney. Tarzan weaves in and out of a smoothly-scrolling jungle, himself moving with a natural fluidity himself. 

Controlling Tarzan is fairly easy. His two weapons each have upper and lower attacks; other than that, his main functions are run and jump. Precise movement makes it easy to grab cliff edges, vines, and tree branches, pulling one's way closer to the game's climax. 

Tarzan, like many Nintendo 64 games, is aimed at a younger audience. The chance to place oneself in the role of the King of the Jungle and interact with his animal friends is extraordinary, but the gameplay doesn't live up to the legend. This is one jungle hunt you can probably afford to miss.


This article is copyright (c) 2000, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 06-Mar-00