The revival of Jumanji has been bittersweet for me. I loved the original movie growing up as a kid. With much apprehension, hearing of a sequel, I wasn’t sure how to take it. Fast forward to how much I enjoyed that sequel and now were getting another entry, it was only a matter of time before an actual video game was released. One based on the new entries which are based on… a video game Jumanji. That would mean a game based on the movie is a perfect fit right?
Jumanji jumps player’s right into the game with a tutorial on just what to expect from the title. A few things can be grasped from this alone. First and foremost is the visuals. It’s apparent from the start the developers got the license to use the actors likeness. Voice wise, it sounds like there are some good imitation actors for everyone but The Rock, who sounds nothing like him. Not a great start.
The second thing, at least on the Switch version is just how blurry it looks. Resolution is clearly lower but at least with the art style it’s still tolerable as everything has a sort of pastel and colorful look to it. The game tutorial begins and the core concept is as follows. Players will work together with their AI, or couch co-op team mates, exploring 1 of 4 levels, each with a different theme. Players must take the stone to the end of the level and say Jumanji to complete the stage. Getting there involves traversing with the stone through the stages, playing hot potato with the stone between characters because holding it too long can cause damage. Also finding the four Jumanji pieces is critical for getting through certain gates holding back players from proceeding Along the way enemies will try to attack and this boils down to shooting them with a weapon in the most basic third person shooter way. A cover system is in place but it’s rarely needed or useful.
Between the traversing elements, there are moments of defending a statue that need to be charged up to proceed with a huge wave of enemies that never ends. Other elements like dodging traps in underground tunnels are interesting the first time, until players are forced to do it a few times over per stage. Accomplishing all this nets players a result screen, some experience, and that’s it. The experience can be used to get different colored outfits or looking weapons. Aside from this, that’s the entire game rinse, repeat for the entire duration of the game. All 4 levels can probably be completed in around an hour. There is no story line. There is no bosses. There is no variation in enemies. Everything you get through the first level is the same thing in the others sans some very minor changes and overall aesthetics to the level.
Jumanji The Videogame is a huge disappointment. What could have been a fun, fantastic action adventure co-op game with comedy is instead turned into something terribly mundane. There is little challenge, little variation, and little reason to actually play through it. Even for a game aimed at a younger audience, there is little reason or depth to want to continue playing this. The price range being $39.99 makes it even more puzzling and makes me wonder if the funds went toward mostly licensing the likeness of characters then making a decent game. The mechanics work alright, the core idea is solid, but this is the most basic, short, and lacking game I’ve played in a long time.
A Switch eShop code was provided by the publisher for review purposes