Jungle King is a 1982 arcade game created by Taito.
Jungle King is a jungle adventure game where players take on the role of Jungle King, a Tarzan-like jungle man, who is going in search of his Jungle Princess, who has been kidnapped by a pair of barbaric cannibals. Jungle King is one of Taito’s most famous arcade games from the 1980’s, but most people know it from its second name Jungle Hunt, which was a remake of the same game. The story of Jungle King is fascinating and marks the end of arcade game manufactures rather loose use of other companies copyrights and trademarks. In 1982 Taito developed a jungle themed 4 level game that combined both the platforming style of gameplay of Donkey Kong, with some ideas of some other popular games like Irem’s Moon Patrol into a game first named Jungle Boy. Jungle Boy would be renamed to Jungle King to capitalize on it’s Tarzan look alike main hero. Not only does the pixel hero look like Tarzan, he even gives out a digitally produced Tarzan yell at the start of the game. The theming is cleaver and makes great use of the Tarzan imagery, there was only one problem… Tarzan was a copyrighted character, which Taito had not attempted to gain the copyright permission to use in the game. Tarzan was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan’s first appearance is in the novel Tarzan of the Apes published in a magazine in 1912. Burroughs passed away in 1950, but his creations Tarzan and John Carter continued to be licensed and protected by copyright from his estate. Almost immediately after Jungle King was released, the estate of Burroughs sought legal action and sent a cease & desist to Taito. Taito took immediate action not to get sued and Jungle King was quickly retooled and rebranded as Jungle Hunt. Gone were the Tarzan yell, the Tarzan like main character and a few other graphical elements. Tarzan was replaced with a Doctor Livingston British explorer style character… some new music was added, but overall the gameplay was exactly the same. The arcade game cabinets in the USA received new artwork and the potential lawsuit was over. Jungle Hunt versions of these arcade games are more common than the Jungle King versions. The legacy of Jungle King was the symbolic end of manufactures of amusement devices taking copyright infringement lightly. Jungle Hunt version is a common fixture in Taito greatest hits collections and is considered to be one of Taito’s most successful arcade games of the early 1980’s.
The game’s stages are as follows :
* The first stage, which may have been the best stage in the game, is set in a forest with a series of swinging vines. Players must use the JUMP button to move from right to left across the vines, while avoiding the monkeys that can send Jungle King falling to the ground. This level is easy to master, but players must time their jumps carefully to make it to the next vine.
* The second stage is set under a jungle river. Players must guide Jungle King through a river infested with alligators and crocodiles. This stage features a ‘breath meter’ that must be carefully watched to avoid drowning (players simply swim up to the surface to get more air). Jungle King is armed with a knife with which he can stab the crocs and gators, but this can only be done when their mouths are not fully open.
* The third stage is an avalanche with boulders rolling down a hill. The player simply uses the joystick to control Jungle King’s climbing speed up the hill, and the JUMP button to leap over rolling boulders until they reach the end of the stage.
* The fourth and final stage has the player guiding Jungle King through a cannibal village. Jungle King must jump over the cannibals while their spears are down, and eventually make his way towards his Jungle Princess, who is being lowered into a pot to be boiled for supper.
On completion of the game, players are rewarded with a short ‘I Love You’ ending, and then the game begins again with increased difficulty.