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Tarzan: Return to the Jungle (GBA)
Publisher:  Activision Developer:  Digital Eclipse Software
Genre:  Action Release Date:  10/22/2002
ESRB:  Everyone More Info on this Game
By Avi Fryman | Oct. 24, 2002
The hairless ape swings onto the GBA in Digital Eclipse's fun-filled follow-up to its wildly successful GBC Tarzan game. Welcome back to the jungle, baby.
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Pros Cons
Impressive animation; solid gameplay; high-speed acrobatics; monkeys. Redundant enemies; irksome instant-death obstacles; no two-player hide-and-seek option.

Fans of Digital Eclipse's hugely successful 1999 Tarzan Game Boy Color game will enjoy getting back into the proverbial swing of things in Tarzan: Return to the Jungle. Featuring the main characters from Disney's animated blockbuster Tarzan, which was in turn based on the novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the monkey man's first foray onto the handheld game scene was surprisingly impressive, particularly for a movie tie-in.

This GBA sequel ups the ante a few notches with improved graphics, improved sound, and a number of interesting narrative twists, including the discovery of a secret valley of dinosaurs, and the location of the "Fountain of Youth."

Like its predecessor, Return to the Jungle is a standard platform game with a handful of acrobatic touches and some impressive FMV animation clips thrown in for good measure. Once again, you'll run about with your knuckles scraping the ground, swinging from vines with gibbon-like prowess, climbing walls and platforms with primordial finesse, swimming through swamps, and snatching as many bananas as you can find. And once again, the in-game animation is fluid, based on the classic Disney style.

Unlike its predecessor, this outing does not feature a two-player hide-and-seek option, nor is it compatible with the Game Boy Printer. And yes, that is a bummer on both counts. Still, what is lost in terms of bonus gimmickry is made up for in terms of solid gameplay (and by the save feature, which replaces the password system used in the GBC title).

The challenges here are fun and well-paced, with well-placed monkeys waiting around to flag your progress, minimizing the redundancy factor of certain trouble spots. The boards are well mapped out, like enormous playgrounds that happen to be filled with wild boars, preying leopards, scorpions, and lanky giants with enormous scythes, among other common hazards of the wild.

Of course, as in any platform game, there are some particularly irksome trouble spots that you'll need to deal with repeatedly, regardless of the helpful flag points. On more than one occasion, I was compelled to hurl my GBA towards the sun and bang my chest in defiance of redundant instant-death obstacles such as bizarrely placed fire pits. This is not an overwhelming characteristic of the game, but I think that when there's a health meter involved, it should be possible to escape from an obstacle in an injured state, rather than instantly perishing upon contact.

Young Tarzan lives on the edge.
If I'm to accept that enormous scythes slashing at my head aren't instantly fatal, then why should I also be forced to believe that a pit of heated coals is? Throw me a frickin' banana here people! In addition, due to the notorious GBA glare factor, I sometimes had trouble seeing vines that are instrumental in getting around, my final gripe.

As you complete each world stage, you'll open up a new FMV clip, which you can then access from the main menu whenever you feel like pondering the inherent joys of full-color liquid-crystal display screens, Darwinism, and the fact that monkeys quite literally rule. There are five video clips from the Adventures of Tarzan animated series by Disney in the game, and they all look and sound quite impressive.

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