The Game: You are the king of the jung…uh, pirate ship! Swinging from rope to rope! Swimming through shark-infested waters! Jumping and ducking huge rolling boulders! And vanquishing knive-weilding pirates (wait, aren’t they supposed to be on your side if you’re a pirate too?) to rescue the damsel! (Taito, 1982)
Memories: So…Pirate Pete. I’m sure you’re not fooled – this is Jungle King again, with different scenery. (At the end of the second stage, the Jungle King / Jungle Hunt music still plays.) A few changes were made to the program itself as well, but not many.
The “vine” screen – uh, sorry, “swinging ropes above the boat deck” – seems to be longer, and much more difficult. Not to mention infinitely sillier, because if I fell off of a rope while swinging above the deck of a pirate ship, I’d dust myself off, make sure no bones were broken or clothes embarassingly torn, and I’d walk the rest of the way. Pete’s clearly a swinger.
The “alligator” screen – now the “shark” screen – also seems to have had its difficulty increased a bit, mainly by the more frequent appearance of those aggravating (but oxygenating!) bubbles that immobilize you at the most inopportune moments. I will admit, however, that watching the sharks plummet to the floor of the sea/lake/ocean/river is a cool touch. The “rock jumping” stage is virtually unchanged, except for snakes who pop out of the foliage over your head.
The “natives” screen has perhaps undergone the most drastic change, adding a whole new enemy – a pirate who stands atop a cliff, throwing knives at you. (Your only remedy is to jump out of the way.) Other than that…well…it’s still the same.
I’m not sure what spawned this game’s transformation; it has a finer visual sheen than Jungle Hunt, but a little bit less fun. Was Taito worried that the removal of the Tarzan-inspired elements from Jungle King wouldn’t appease the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs? (Burroughs’ estate sued over those elements in Jungle King shortly after its release, which is how Jungle Hunt‘s new title – and pith-helmeted explorer – came about in the first place.) Whatever spawned Pirate Pete, this was the final iteration of this particular game – and if you wonder which version Taito prefers, ask yourself which game wound up on the recent Taito Legends retro collection?
More visuals, less fun. Pirate Pete makes a strong anti-piracy statement.