Does anyone, apart from Chad Concelmo, remember Timon and Pumbaa? Does anyone remember the hijinx of Simba’s fun-loving meerkat and warthog companions, who added much-needed levity to what was basically a family-friendly retelling of Hamlet?
I sort of hope you do, because otherwise this week’s forgotten game will be confusing as all hell.
Timon and Pumbaa’s Jungle Games, developed by 7th Level, was one of the first PC games I ever became addicted to. Partially because I wasn’t of age to play really violent stuff, and partially because I was more or less in love with The Lion King, I found myself running to Timon and Pumbaa’s Jungle Games almost every day after school.
Hit the jump for the lowdown on this charming little licensed game.
Timon and Pumbaa lead you, the player, around their newly-built jungle arcade. They don’t really have any goal for themselves in mind other than showing you around the jungle, and having a good time.
There’s no plot, to speak of: the game just tries to make the (assumedly young) player have as much fun and feel as happy as possible.
Heck, every time you quit the game Timon and Pumbaa throw a going-away party: how adorable is that?
The PC version of T&PJG, which I owned, came with five minigames: Burper, Jungle Pinball, Hippo Hop, Bug Drop, and Slingshot. These games could be accessed from the hub world, which, in and of itself, included a bunch of cute or humorous little easter eggs. You can technically just play the games, but if players don’t spend a significant amount of time just randomly clicking on stuff in the hub world, they’re missing out on a lot of jokes and treasures. Assumedly, these easter eggs were put in to encourage exploration and imagination in the young player, and, to my mind, they worked: I’d click everything I could, always eager to explore more of the jungle world, always wanting to see more.
The package would be nothing, however, without the aforementioned minigames. A summary of each follows.
Burper: It’s basically a shmup, except instead of a spaceship you control Pumbaa, and instead of firing lasers he burps clouds of green gas to destroy falling bugs, fruit, and kitchen sinks. While shooting fruit (which, in turn, gives him more burp ammo) and avoiding damage, Pumbaa has to use his tail to whip bugs on the ground who might try to flank and sting him. Probably my favorite game in the package.
Jungle Pinball: Exactly what it sounds like. Instead of bumpers, the board is filled with animals. The ball physics weren’t terribly good, so this game was harder than it should have been.
Hippo Hop: It’s Frogger. I hadn’t actually played all that much Frogger before, so I really enjoyed this game. Plus, completing a level awarded the player with a cut scene wherein Timon ate a different, delicious-looking bug.
Bug Drop: Your typical puzzle game where you have to match three or more bugs of a certain color. I hate puzzle games, but I actually enjoyed this one a lot as a kid because it’s the only competitive game in the package: you can play against the CPU, or another player on the same keyboard.
Slingshot: Sorry, I lied — this was my favorite game in the package. It’s basically just a shooting gallery where you shoot berries at animals, but the animations are so cool and there’s so much to hit that it combines reasonably entertaining gameplay (for a 10-year-old, anyway) with a bunch of well-animated easter eggs making each hit more satisfying than it really has any right to be.
There’s no “end” to any of these minigames; the player just competes for a top score or, in my case, to waste time.
Why you’re probably not playing it:
Firstly, this was the only YouTube video I could find of someone actually playing the Hippo Hop level. I dunno why that guy is talking in the way he is, but beggars can’t be choosers (and his mumbling is also oddly transfixing).
Secondly, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why modern gamers don’t want to spend time tracking down a five-minigame package based on a movie they don’t care about, starring characters they’ve more or less forgotten. I’d be lying if I said this particular edition of GTF has been nothing more than a personal nostalgia trip, but hey.
If you want to play it, it’s reasonably easy to eBay or NOT download (7th Level doesn’t exist anymore, so you wouldn’t be robbing anyone who actually worked on the game). I doubt you’ll get the same level of enjoyment out of it that I did at 10 years of age, but you never can tell.