My parents are not really video game people, especially my mother. (Somehow, some way, I became the arcade guy I am in spite of this fact.) But there was and is one game that my entire family has always been able to enjoy together—and you’re reading it about it.
For that reason, I’ve always considered Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party the ultimate party game. My family and I have made a point to play it at least a few times a year for somewhere in the neighborhood of a decade, so I couldn’t possibly go about reviewing my PlayStation 2 archives without mentioning this game.
Today, let’s take a look at what exactly makes this misunderstood monkey misadventure so darn captivating.
Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party
Developer: Magenta Software
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Release date: October 30, 2007
As the name implies, Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party is party game at its very core, offering a bevy of competitive minigames for up to four players to enjoy. Quite honestly, I think it’s pretty fantastic.
After selecting your modes and monkey, the game will drop you right into the heat of the action. No interludes—just one minigame after the other. While some people prefer there to be some sort of context for their minigames, a la Mario Party’s boards, I really like this game’s method of madness.
Jungle Party requires the titular Buzz! controllers, creating a very unique experience. Many of the minigames are more or less the same concept with a different coat of paint, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
You might be tasked you with quickly pressing the colored buttons in a sequence to knock down a totem pole, to power a rocket ship, to leap over hurdles, to select the playing card with the highest number of coconuts.
You might be tasked with clicking the buzzer to wage warfare (by land, sea, or bridge), to throw paint balls at a gorilla, to stick your head in a lion’ s mouth, or to jump to the back of the line on a branch slide leading to impending groin pain.
You might even be given the responsibility of choosing which monkey to electrocute, bomb, or smash with an anvil—all with the click of a colored button. The point is that, while most of the minigames fall under some basic format, the scenarios are all so wildly different that you probably won’t mind.
Remember, too, that this is a game very much so designed for children. While I get a real kick out of playing it, not every seasoned gamer will feel the same. (That being said, it would be pretty wicked to see a bunch of pro gamers go at it, heh-heh.)
I love everything about Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party. Whether you’ll feel the same or not will largely depend on your level of interest in family multiplayer antics.
I personally feel that Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party boasts a fairly decent helping of content. The game offers 25 minigames (40 in the European release), and a handful of options to play around with. You can choose to go at it with a group (multiplayer) or alone (single player).
In Multiplayer mode, you can select from a Short Game (10 minigames), Medium game (15 minigames), Long Game (20 minigames, or a Marathon Game (all 25 minigames). After selecting your game length, you’ll have your choice of Quick Start, Standard Game, or Custom Game.
In Quick Start, all you’ll have to do is select a monkey and jump in. There are no extra frills, so if you’re low on time, this is the right choice for you. In Standard Game, you’ll select your monkey and enter your name. In Custom Game, you’ll select your monkey, enter your name, and customize your monkey’s look with a wide variety of clothing items.
Custom Game is the most elaborate of the bunch, as you’ll be able to fill out whichever game length you’ve chosen with whatever minigames you like. Wanna play “Whack a Squirrel” 25 times in a row? Be my guest, you sadist.
Don’t fret if your Buzz! Junior gang called out today. One person can play Single Player game to bide their time. You’ll select your monkey, enter your name, customize your look, and participate in a random sampling of 10 minigames.
Practice Mode can be enjoyed by a group or flying solo. After choosing your monkey, you’ll jump in any number of minigames in whatever order you choose. It’s more like a “free mode” in that sense.
As for options, you can toggle autosave on or off, adjust screen alignment, and toggle widescreen on or off, as well as view the intro movie and leaderboard. You can also select from one of three languages (English, Spanish, and French) at the beginning of the game.
Here’s my stance on the reduced content in the U.S. version: The game is already repetitive enough as is, so I couldn’t possibly imagine having more versions of the same base minigames. It would be nice to have more content, sure, I never felt cheated out of a full game experience.
While all of the modes are simply variations of playing a series of random minigames, I have to commend the developers for giving players some many ways to do what they want to do. Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party is a fairly robust platter.
Since the unique controls are what set this game apart, it’s a good thing the controls work so dang well. As the name also implies, Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party requires a set of Buzz! controllers to play. Each Buzz! controller features four rectangular buttons (blue, orange, green, and yellow) and one large red buzzer.
The Buzz! controllers might feel cheap to some, but I feel they’re more than sufficient for the task at hand. It’s also worth nothing that all four controllers’ wires meet in the middle, so you can’t sit very far apart from the other players. I get why this choice was made, though. The controllers are a lot easier to keep track of when constantly connected. (Plus, the PlayStation 2 only has two USB ports. Either way you slice it, the controllers would’ve needed to be tied together.)
The control scheme itself is extremely intuitive and easy to pick up. My favorite technique buy far (in games that require quick color inputs) is to place my left thumb over blue and orange and my right thumb over green and yellow, rocking each thumb back and forth as necessary. This tactic has helped me win a lot of minigames, and it’s all made possible by the smart button layout.
I can’t say I have any problems with the controls whatsoever. I found both the design and configuration of the Buzz! controllers to perform exceptionally well under frequent use.
Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party is an absolute master class in colorful presentation. Technically speaking, I already think it’s a decently high-quality experience, but it’s the brilliant visuals that really seal the proverbial deal.
The game is positively oozing with personality. These monkeys are the zaniest group of boneheads ever, and the game makes that immensely clear with clever touches throughout. The character designs and animations are just plain delightful. Even the environments, as briefly as we see them, feel like living, breathing entities.
To be honest, after playing this game for at least 10 years of my life, I almost sort of feel, like, invested in the Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party lore, if that’s makes any sense. As strange as this may seem, I guess I’ve just come to love the characters and the animal kingdom they exist within. That’s saying a lot for an otherwise super basic party game package.
I think the menus and interface are pretty well designed, too. Nothing feels cheap or out of place. It’s very clear to me that every decision regarding the presentation was made with the utmost care.
How about we give a special shout-out to the instruction manual? I absolutely adore how the “gorilla of the jungle” (a major recurring character in the game) offers further insight at certain junctures throughout the book. I just can’t enough of those gorgeously composed full-color pages.
If it weren’t clear by now, the graphics and presentation are truly top-notch. I feel that this family-friendly party game goes a step above in that regard.
Oh! By the way, don’t skip that intro movie. It’s so dang good.
Although it may seem odd for me to serve up such glowing praise for such an assuming title, you must understand that I’m genuinely speaking from the heart. And wouldn’t you know it: My heart loves the sound design, too.
The music is exactly what you expect from a jungle-themed game—and that’s a darn good thing. Every track is bursting with energy and charm, heightening the excitement and drawing you into the experience. Although I might not listen to these songs in my day-to-day life, I genuinely enjoy hearing them each time I play the game. All the songs are just plain wonderful.
The sound effects are goofy in all the right ways. I love the monkeys’ frantic screeches and the various cartoonish sounds that erupt from the world around them. Jungle Party is a silly game—a fact made immediately obvious by the audio.
Perhaps the single-best aspect of the sound design is Becky Boxer’s work as the game’s announcer, injecting the game with the game with a huge burst of personality. Many of the lines are context sensitive, so don’t expect her to the say the same things over and over again. If you’re anything like me, you’ll never get tired of her countless quips. (“Keep it at it, Blue!” “You can do it, Orange!” “Blue, we will mourn you.”)
Some of you on the other side of the pond may be thinking, “Hey, wasn’t Liz Barker the announcer?” And yes, that would be correct—in the European version. I personally don’t find Barker’s work nearly as interesting and fun, but that could just be because I grew up with the U.S. version of the game.
At the end of the day, Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party is music to my ears. The care that went into the audio should carry through at least one Marathon session, even if you don’t feel like touching the game ever again.
I’ll be 100 percent honest with you: Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party is probably not for everyone. I mean, it’s practically a baby game, so I understand why some folks would pass over it.
However, if you love party games and still have your PlayStation 2, I see absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t try out the game. Jungle Party may not be your next multiplayer addiction—I’m nearly sure of that—but it may very well provide you with a comforting distraction every now and then.
I hope y’all are enjoying my renewed focus on reviews, as there are plenty more on the way. Until then, keep it real—and join my Discord server, too.