February 27, 2021

No Toto, We're Not in Kansas Anymore - Jungles of Maxtheria PC Review

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TL:DR:  Jungles of Maxtheria offers a fun and challenging gaming experience that both older and younger gamers will appreciate.

Welcome to the jungle

Jungles of Maxtheria from developer Slifker Games takes you back to a time when side-scrolling adventure games ruled the roost. Taking the proven gameplay of Pitfall and mixing it with the vibrant visuals of Trine, Jungles of Maxtheria whips up plenty of action and old fashion fun.

But don't let the cute graphics fool you as beneath the lush foliage are cleverly placed traps and obstacles that will give even seasoned veterans a run for their money.

When you do make it through the massive six levels the wild inhabitants of the forest such as snakes, alligators, and giant bees will try to stop your progress.

TIP: Use vines to avoid the sand traps and other dangers lurking below

Taking the proven gameplay of Pitfall and mixing it with the vibrant visuals of Trine, Jungles of Maxtheria whips up plenty of action and old fashion fun.

Lucky for you, you're armed to the teeth to battle these charming but dangerous enemies. Armed with a knife, pistol, and a grappling hook, you'll shoot, dig and jump your way from various levels until you make it to the end. The grappling hook is effective in traversing wide-open platforms as well as using it for vertical climbs which can lead to bountiful treasures and secret areas.

Each level is nicely designed and gives off a uniqueness that hasn't been felt since the days of Pitfall. Graphically, the game uses lush colors and simple graphics to give the game a cool retro look that remains true to the spirit of the original. The lively visuals add a certain pop especially when blended together with the appealing background. Add the high spirited music and thumping soundtrack and you have a game that's as fun to play as it is to listen to.

Controlling your little fedora-wearing adventurer couldn't be easier. Simple button clicks and flicks of the directional pad is all that's needed to start your journey. While the game can be played with a keyboard, the controller offers the best gaming experience.

TIP: Explore every nook and cranny when you're underground. You'll never know what you might find!

Growing up in the late 80s and 90s, I adored games like this and look forward to seeing what this talented developer has in store for us in the future.

Despite all the positives I've mentioned so far, not all is perfect in the jungle. For one, the character animation is pretty stiff and robotic consisting of what looks to be a few frames of animations. Running towards a hill, for example, makes your character simply tilt oddly depending on which direction he's facing. It would have been nice if the characters had more realistic movements since much of the gameplay requires certain types of animation for swimming, climbing, and jumping. Imagine this game with Pitfall: Mayan Adventures type animations. Now that would have been awesome!

Second, the inventory system is a bit wonky with items needing to be purchased from an in-game store which breaks the immersion factor a bit because you have to pause the action. Other weapons, like your trusty knife, can become more of a chore to use than an asset due to its limited use. There's nothing more frustrating than being deep underground and then realizing you can't progress further because you're out of knives to break through barriers. I'm sure there's a better way to balance how this whole thing works.

And finally, the game is relatively easy to complete once you've figured out all the nuances the game has to offer.

TIP: Stock up on torches. They come in handy in the dark!

jungle love

In spite of these minor quibbles, Jungles of Maxtheria offers plenty of variety and challenges to make the first play through a grand experience. The simple premise and liberal gameplay elements mean that players can choose to go at their pace without having to be bogged down by time limits, end bosses, or complex patterns that require the memory of an elephant to figure out.

Growing up in the late 80s and 90s, I adored games like this and look forward to seeing what this talented developer has in store for us in the future.

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