Disney's Tarzan (PlayStation) review
"Disney has always been known for their seemingly perfect family morals, their delightful animated films and their fairly consistent track record of making bad games. To be fair, not all of their games are bad. Too bad for every good title, like Aladdin, there is crap like A Bug’s Life, Kingdom Hearts(I’m the minority here) and My Disney Kitchen. Since Tarzan is one of my favorites out of the recent batch of Disney flicks and I heard this was a 2D platformer, my ho..."
Disney has always been known for their seemingly perfect family morals, their delightful animated films and their fairly consistent track record of making bad games. To be fair, not all of their games are bad. Too bad for every good title, like Aladdin, there is crap like A Bug’s Life, Kingdom Hearts(I’m the minority here) and My Disney Kitchen. Since Tarzan is one of my favorites out of the recent batch of Disney flicks and I heard this was a 2D platformer, my hopes were high that this would be another Aladdin. It had a few things in common with Aladdin but one of them wasn’t something I was really hoping for.
Being Tarzan, you think that you would have access to all sorts of crazy moves and fierce attacks. I forgot that this was a Disney game and squeaky-clean gameplay comes before logical gameplay. Instead of ferociously mauling all the villains Tarzan throws fruit at them. Fruit flinging was also a popular method in the Aladdin game, but that was back in the 16-bit days when games didn’t have to make sense. You think that on a “modern” system like the Playstation, fruit throwing would have evolved into something more appropriate and less silly. Some things never change at Disney I guess, especially their policy of not including minorities in their animated films.
Not only is the fruit flinging silly, but also it is unnecessarily tough to accurately hit any of the evil denizens of the jungle. Usually it the fruits of death end up going over or under the desired target. There is another useless method of disposal Tarzan can use. Occasionally Tarzan can find a dagger, but the range is so pitifully short that you’ll likely take more damage than you can dish out.
Fortunately enough, eliminating baddies is the only serious problem in the game. While it still a serious drawback, the impeccable level design almost makes up for it. There are thirteen lengthy missions and each one is chockfull of secret areas and items. Finding all of the items is a challenge, but it never gets frustrating or redundant. The variety in the levels also stands out. For most of the levels you control either young Tarzan or the matured Tarzan, but there are also moments in which you control Tarzan’s love interest, Jane, and his best friend, Terk. The level with Terk is truly great. Instead of focusing on combat like most of the other levels, this level consists mainly of lighthearted exploration.
A couple of the levels take a break from 2D platforming. Tarzan can tree surf, much like he does in the movie. Tree surfing is basically just sliding down trees while collecting items and avoiding enemies. Tarzan moves blisteringly fast making these portions of the game intense. In two other levels Tarzan is chased by a pack of elephants and Jane is chased by a pack of baboons. Both these levels are fun, as are almost all the other levels in the game. If only getting rid of the enemies wasn’t so needlessly frustrating.
In one of the later levels in Tarzan there was perhaps too much of an attempt at variety. The level involves Tarzan riding an elephant while having to avoid things like branches. Each time you get clotheslined by a branch or fall in a hole you automatically lose a life. How exactly does getting hit by a branch end up being more damaging than being stabbed by a smuggler armed with a sword? This level was nothing but annoying, but at least the most of the levels are well designed.
Being able to replay all the levels already beaten is a nice touch, and it is almost necessary to collect all the items in the level. Collecting certain items nets you standard fare like bonus levels. These bonus levels are short and basic, but they are entertaining for the thirty seconds they last. You can also unlock scenes from the Tarzan movie, but the animation is a bit choppy when compared to the original movie footage.
The important areas from the movies are represented well on the Playstation. Everything from the waterfalls, tree house, base camp and boat has been transferred from the movie into the game. Each area looks great, especially the lush jungles. It would have been better if the backgrounds were livelier because they appear to be very static in areas. The polygonal character models look great when compared to their animated counterparts thanks to lively animations and solid details.
Most of the original voice actors returned with the exception of Rosie O’Donnell. Perhaps she was too busy publishing failed magazines or exploiting her sexuality for attention. The replacement for Rosie’s Terk does a good job but still does not sound anything like Rosie. While Rosie did not want to contribute her talents to the game, established musician Phil Collins does an outstanding job. Almost every song that was in the movie is in the game. Most of the music that plays during the levels is a variation of one of these songs. Considering how strong the original material is this is definitely noteworthy.
Tarzan is by no means a bad game. The level design is almost consistently excellent with the exception of that abysmal later level. The amount of the varieties from level to level is fantastic, but one flaw holds back this game from being a true contender in the dying 2D genre. Getting rid of the enemies is just so unnecessarily challenging and silly. If you’re a fan of the genre or movie, I suggest buying this game because it’s so cheap. Everyone else should probably give this a rental or just steer clear of it. Fruit flinging sucks.
Community review by djskittles (March 20, 2004)
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