Stealing bananas from a monkey is like taking candy from a baby. It may be easy to do (if the monkey’s not looking), but that doesn’t make it right. I mean, really. What else do primates have to enjoy in life beyond their tasty yellow fruit? Not much. And, that’s true of Darwin.
In Darwin the Monkey, our adorable little ape is fast asleep when a tribe of hungry jungle frogs cart off all of his precious nanners. Not content with that, they pilfer his neighbors’ pelican eggs, too. Thus begins the task of reclaiming his edibles and rescuing as many eggs as possible from the nefarious frogs.
Darwin begins his side-scrolling jungle adventure following a brief comic-strip intro. A single, story-based mode of play leads you through the game’s 30 levels (10 in the demo), comprised of six varied mini-games: Rolling Bananas, Egg Rescue, Chick Rescue, Bonus Round, Boss Round and Hidden Bonus Round.
First up, Rolling Bananas involves jumping on crates to break them open, then “rolling” the contents to Darwin’s balloon (the number needed is marked on the basket). Egg Rescue entails recovering a lone pelican egg placed on the level. And, in Chick Rescue, your task is to safely guide each chick (an egg with feet) back to Darwin’s balloon. But, be careful. If they fall too far (by skipping a platform), it’s scrambled eggs!
On the Bonus Round, you simply need to collect as many pineapples as possible within a very short time frame. Conversely, Boss Round takes a while to complete. While you keep Darwin away from bombs hurled at him by Gargor, the frog king, you gather and throw apples at the green-skinned sovereign until he’s unconscious. Finally, if you collect enough letter tokens on any given level to spell out Darwin’s name, you’ll be whisked away to a Hidden Bonus Round to collect falling banana coins.
Of course, most of the above tasks need to be managed while avoiding your amphibian adversaries. Come into contact with a frog or be hit by an arrow and it’s instant unconsciousness for Darwin. Lose consciousness three times and the game ends. But, it’s really no biggie. You can resume at any time from the last level completed.
As for bonuses and obstacles, nabbing pineapples give you 1,000 points apiece. Meanwhile, three types of frogs will thwart your efforts — the Warrior Frog, who patrols platforms; the Archer Frog, who patrols platforms and fires deadly arrows; and the Ninja Frog, who hops freely about. All three can be stunned by having Darwin jump on their heads. But, they can’t be killed what with this being a family-friendly game and all. So, they revive in short order to trouble you further.
How does this jungle adventure stack up overall? Well, it receives the “Golden Banana Award” for its lack of violence, cheerful Lion King-style music, cute visuals and ease of play. However, it has its fair share of rotten bananas, too. The story is rudimentary at best, it offers but one game mode, play is simplistic and repetitive, power-ups are nonexistent and mouse control is quirky (stick with the keyboard for controlling Darwin). In essence, the developer’s decision to make the game family-friendly and Ã¼ber accessible also makes it too watered down and lacking in depth for the great majority of gamers. Play is reduced to collecting bananas, eggs and pineapples, and avoiding frogs. Pretty boring as it stands.
If you want a very simple diversion for the kids to play, Darwin the Monkey might be worth the investment. For most adults, however, it lacks the variety and challenge necessary to make it worth jumping on board to kick frog butt.