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Jungle King was an old arcade game released by Taito way back in 1982.

The story

This was the first video game ever to feature Tarzan as a playable character. You guide him through a four level jungle adventure. But, Taito never bothered to get permission from the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs, so they were sued for copyright infringement for using Tarzan's likeness. So this title quickly went out of production, and is rather rare today. They later reworked the graphics and released this game three more times (as Jungle Hunt, Pirate Pete, and Jungle Boy).

The game

Jungle King has four levels, each of which could be considered a separate game in their own right. So I will discuss them separately. It is notable that this game scrolls right to left, while the vast majority of scrollers go from left to right, although most people probably wouldn't even notice that.

The first level may have been the best level in the game. You use your jump button to move from right to left across a series of swinging vines, while avoiding the monkeys that can send you falling to the ground. This level is easy to master, but you do have time time your jumps to make it to the next vine. Many years later Nintendo would borrow heavily from this sequence for their hit game Donkey Kong Country.

The second level is an swimming sequence. You move tarzan around in the crocodile infested water. You have a breath meter here that you must watch to avoid drowning (simply swim up to the surface to get more air). You can stab the crocodiles with your knife, but only when their mouths are not all the way open (I choose to dodge them myself).

The third level is a rock jumping sequence. Simply use your joystick and jump button to leap over rolling boulders as you climb a hill on the way to your eventual goal (this sequence has also been "borrowed" from heavily in dozens of later games).

The fourth and final level has you guiding your intrepid hero through a native village. You have to jump the villagers while their spears are down, and eventually make your way towards Jane who is being lowered into a pot to be boiled for supper.

You then get to view a short "I Love You" ending, and then the game begins again with increased difficulty. I can usually make it through this game a few time before it becomes too difficult for me, but I also distract myself by playing Toy Box's Tarzan & Jane as background music (which is the most appropriate song I could find, but it is hard to concentrate on vine swinging when I am trying to sing along to the "Tarzan" parts of the song).

The Machine

Jungle King used the familiar "Taito Classic" cabinet that was used for a variety of early 1980's games. This was a rather short cabinet, and had a monitor that was laid back at more than a 45 degree angle. Most of these cabinets featured the same painted sideart which consisted of an ornate border and a "Taito" logo. Many other early Taito games will plug right into your Jungle King machine without modification (although the boardsets for these early games tend to be expensive).

The marquee to this title showed a "Jungle King" logo, with Tarzan to the left of it, and a (rather slutty looking), blond woman tied to a tree on the right hand side. Jungle greenery filled the rest of the marquee's surface area.

The monitor bezel was decorated with a red and orange design, while the control panel overlay had a cartoony jungle scene on it that sort of reminded me of Hudson's Adventure Island series.

This title used six (count em, six), processors. It used a pair of Z80s to run the main program data (one at 4 Mhz and one at 3Mhz). While it used four AY-8910 processors to do audio chores (all of them running at 1.5 Mhz). The program code was stored on 21 EPROM chips, each having 4K of storage.

Where to play

You can play this title on your Atari 2600 as Jungle Hunt (I believe it was ported to the Sega Master System as well). Or you can play the original arcade version using the MAME emulator.

Although fun, I can't really recommend this one for adding to your arcade game collection. The gameplay quickly becomes repetitive, and you would probably find that your spanking new Jungle King machine would rarely if ever get played. Of course you should always buy any game if the price is right and you have room (I buy anything that is $100 or less, assuming I have both the space and the money at the time).

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