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Jungo

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Forget everything you know about Bejeweled and the five hundred other 3-in-a-row games on the planet (and that's a conservative number).

Jungo has changed the rules of the game and added a clever animal theme, great graphics and unlockable goodies worth working towards.

Here's the scoop: players are introduced to the story about a villainous vulture named Vargas, who has trapped all your animal friends inside of orbs. Yep, he went ahead and encapsulated elephants, rhinos and giraffes in multicolored spheres so you must break them open to set them free. Who are you, you ask? You're a cheetah, of course, and you take it upon yourself to bring things back to normal in the jungle.

The game-play board looks like a 3-D version of Bejeweled, with a number of rows and columns of colored orbs; you must drag and drop adjoining orbs so that at least three or more of the same-colored orbs are in a row or column - or both. You see, unlike Bejeweled you can connect as many same-colored orbs as you can, so long as they're touching, even if it results in a wild zigzag shape. The caveat is that you only have a limited time in which to do this. After the white sparkle rounds the outside of the orbs, time's up, and whatever you've done up until that point will explode, making way for new colored orbs. Got it? Good. The more orbs you pack together, the more juice gets added to your power meter. When it climaxes, a star appears on the board and when you create a 3-in-a-row or more with that star, all animals are freed and you more onto the next board.

The game features eight long chapters, but with many levels and locations within each chapter; you'll visit jungles, riverbeds, swamps, villages, and more. The board layout will get increasing difficult, too, with spaces missing on the board (so you can't swap with the orb beside it), cracked orbs or rocks that can't be moved, and so on.

Power-ups appear every few levels that give you a bonus in some way, shape or form. Whirlwind, for example, changes all nearby orbs into one color, while Lightning will change all orbs to the same color in a straight line. The Freeze power-up, though, temporarily halts Vargus' shadow magic that slowly sweeps across the board, making every orb it swallows unusable; Rainstorms can wash away the damage already caused by Vargus' wrath.

Special orbs appear, too, such as a points bonus or the ability to spell the word J-U-N-G-O for extra lives.

Every location also has a hidden cheetah paw somewhere on the level and you'll have an opportunity to find this cleverly hidden imprint on the ground at the end of the levels. If you collect enough of them, it will unlock a number of bonus material for you. The first one, for example, unlocked by collecting four or five paws, gives you a high-resolution comic book with very humorous dialogue.

Speaking of the game's look, Jungo is very attractive and everything fits into this jungle theme, from its graphics to the story to the music and even the power-up sound effects! Well done.

There isn't much to complain about after playing Jungo, though it would score even higher marks if it had more than one game mode to add to its replayability. That said, 3-in-a-row fans won't be disappointed with this highly-polished game, interesting spin on the genre and unlockable content to keep gamers clicking until the wee hours of the morn. Thanks, Gamezebo.


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