My family was pretty late in getting a Nintendo, but we DID have a Texas Instruments 99/4A computer. TI is now better known for its graphing calculators, and those probably have more advanced games than the 99/4A did back then, but at the time it was cool. While most of the early TI computer games were rip-offs of other popular video games, like TI Invaders or Munch Man, eventually Atari started porting other games for the computer. One that I remember playing quite a bit was Jungle Hunt, which was originally developed by Taito for the arcade in 1982.
My wife has the Atari 2600 version. They’re all mostly the same, but not surprisingly the arcade one has better graphics and sound. I think the TI version was graphically better than the 2600 one, but it was lacking in terms of sound.
The game went through a few name changes, the prototypes being called Jungle Boy, and the original release Jungle King.
The protagonist was originally a Tarzan type who made the ape-man’s trademark yell, but when the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate claimed copyright infringement, they not only removed the yell and gave the hero a safari outfit complete with pith helmet and monocle, but also changed the name to Jungle Hunt.
According to Wikipedia, the game was one of the earliest to use parallax scrolling, in which objects in the foreground and background could move at different rates. It’s a side-scroller with four levels and only one joystick button involved, and most of the gameplay relies on timing.
The first level has the hero jumping from one swinging rope to another. Then comes a river infested with crocodiles, which you can either kill with a knife or just avoid. You can only stay underwater for a limited amount of time, and then have to come up for air in order to remain alive. The third stage sees the hero dodging falling rocks by either jumping over or running under them. Finally, you have to rescue a girl who’s dangling over a stew pot with two cannibals in skull helmets guarding her.
You only need to touch her to save her, and she immediately declares her love for our intrepid explorer. According to the instruction manual for the console version, the hero’s name is Sir Dudley Dashly and the girl his wife, Lady Penelope. Is this just another example of the woman being helpless without her man, or do women taste better? Mind you, this ad makes it look like it’s the woman who does the vine-swinging.
I got that graphic from this page, which also includes other images of scantily clad women at arcade cabinets.
Wait, there aren’t any lions in this game! Or in the jungle, for that matter.
I also found out a few other things related to the game through the magic of the Internet. One is that Taito released the same game again under the name Pirate Pete, also in 1982.
I don’t just mean it uses the same engine or whatever; it’s exactly the same game, only with different graphics.
This time you’re a pirate rescuing a pirate wench from…other pirates. They were even lazy enough to leave the damsel in distress hanging over a stew pot, even though I doubt there were very many cannibal pirates.
Then again, if they’re stuck on land without food, who knows what they’d resort to? I do think the wench has a little more style than Penelope, though.
Another interesting bit of trivia is that there was a Jungle Hunt board game released by Milton Bradley in 1983. I’m not entirely sure how it’s played, but it includes vines that you use to cross the board, and a monkey can knock you off them.
This wasn’t an isolated incident either, as I’ve heard of board game versions of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong as well. And apparently such games are still being made.