Konami's 1981 Jungler
Jungler is a cross between several games - Pac-Man, Centipede, Nibbler, Head-On, and perhaps a few others. While this sort of agglomeration usually makes for a pretty lousy game, Jungler is an exception.

In the game, you're a white, multi-segmented bug. Or snake. A bug-snake maybe. Green, yellow and red bug-snakes enter the maze from the four corners, and your job is to kill 'em off. You have two ways of doing this: collide with them head-on, or shoot them. But it's not quite that simple.

You can only collide with the green or yellow bug-snakes. If you collide with the red ones - you die, so you have to change their color first. To do this, you shoot them - but only the tail segment can be shot. When you shoot a red bug-snake, it turns yellow. Shoot a yellow one, and it turns green. Once they're green, each shot takes another segment out of them until they're gone. But the shorter the bug-snake, the faster they go. In later levels, the bug-snakes take several shots to turn them yellow, and some just stay red no matter how many segments you shoot off. While all of this is going on, they're also shooting at you. Lose all of your segments, and you're history.

The ubiquitous bonus fruit pops up from time to time. It will change the color of the bug-snakes, or add a segment back onto you. There are also dead-ends (shown as a purple octagon with an X in it) that can trap the enemy, but can also trap you if you aren't careful.

The gameplay is really well thought-out. You're pretty much unrestricted as to how you move. You can repeatedly double-back on yourself, or on other bug-snakes. You can also safely collide with the middle of other bug-snakes since only the heads are deadly. This makes for some fun close calls, and a lot of quick maneuvering. You can also shoot the other bug-snakes' tails from the front - a handy trick.

Missing Ingredient
A better name. What's a "Jungler", anyway? Nobody looking at that marquee is going to give it a second thought. Perhaps "Insecticide" would have been a good name. Even "Bug-Snakes of Death" would have been an improvement.

Thanks to Jeffrey Carl at ServInt for providing the space for CinemArcade


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