Review – Jungle Race Digital on iOS

Jungle Race Main Image

 

Designer Simone Luciani

Artist Roberto Grasso

Publisher Cranio Creations

Length 5-20min

Release Date July 16th, 2021

Player Count 1

Price $2.79 in Apple Store

Jungle Race Digital is a digital adaptation of Cranio Creation’s lightweight animal racing game, Jungle Race. In Jungle Race, players influence the 5 animal drivers in order to ensure their favored drivers emerge victorious and their opponents’ drivers end up eating dust!

Review

Jungle Race Digital is a racing game where, rather than having each player control an individual racer, players influence 5 different animal drivers, trying to have their favored drivers end up placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd by the end of the race. There’s not a ton of strategy here, but that’s okay; the game is meant to be a fun one, not a brain-grinder. 

At the beginning of each race, the player and bots will receive 7 stickers, each sticker representing a driver. On players’ turns, they will either choose one of their stickers and place it on the corresponding driver or pass and forfeit all future turns in the race. The sticker will cause that driver to pass the driver ahead of them, so if you placed a sticker on the 3rd place driver, they would move to 2nd, and 2nd would move to 3rd. If anyone places a sticker on the 1st place driver, they immediately move to 5th place, and everyone else moves up once. 

Points are scored at the end of each race. Players receive points based on the sum of how many stickers they placed on that driver and how many stickers they still hold of that driver at the end of the race. The 1st place driver gives 3 points per sticker, the 2nd place driver gives 2 points per driver, and the 3rd place driver gives 1 point per sticker. So, in order to maximize points, players should try and make the driver who they received the most stickers for win. 

It’s a very simple concept but it’s deeper than it first appears. For instance, if you have 4 stickers for a driver, you could use all those stickers to get that driver into 1st place, but then someone else could place a sticker on them and send them back to 5th. Moreover, maybe you have 2 stickers for a driver who’s in first place, but an opponent has already placed 4 stickers on him. Is it worth it to lose points from that driver to make sure your opponent doesn’t score an easy 12? There are engaging yet simple decisions like this in every game of Jungle Race

Though there is a lot of luck as to what players get what stickers, there’s some strategy in when you play your stickers. It’s often prudent to play stickers on a spread of drivers, so the other players don’t know who you favor, and then boost your favored drivers at the very end when everyone else’s stickers are low. However, if everyone else uses that same strategy, you won’t have an advantage, so it’s really all about mixing up strategies and bluffing to get your drivers in the top positions. 

Jungle Race can be easily grasped by kids, and I could see the min-maxing and risk-management of sticker-placing being beneficial and educational, even if just to help them learn more complex board games as they grow older.

The short tap-through tutorial featuring text and graphics does an excellent job of teaching players the game, and I felt ready to jump into my first race. I found the AI satisfyingly challenging: it’s not easy to win, but it is doable and therefore brings with it a sense of accomplishment. 

The graphics and animations are simple and fun, adding to the lightweight nature of Jungle Race. The drivers themselves are funny, and their cars often riff off the animal that rides them (the rabbit drives a carrot supercar). The racing course’s background is interesting, if a bit repetitive (I usually found myself staring at the drivers themselves, so it didn’t bother me). 

Jungle Race doesn’t offer a ton of game modes, as the only way to play right now is single-player against 1-3 bots, but you can customize how many races you want to do before the final score is calculated. Choosing how many races there are in a game is a great way to mitigate sticker luck, if you want a more cerebral experience. Players can also choose what sticker logo represents them as they place their stickers on the drivers. 

I do wish the tutorial would have told me what the makeup of the deck of stickers that get dealt to each player is, but the designers said they will be working on a way to put that in the app somewhere (there are a total of 10 stickers for each driver, which makes up the 50-card deck that is dealt to the 2-4 players playing). Two other critiques are that I wish the numbers depicting how many stickers each player has played on each car were a bit easier to see, and I wish there was an online or pass-and-play option. There’s a lot of potential in Jungle Race for some back-and-forth player interaction, but it just doesn’t feel the same against bots. 

If you’re looking for a highly-strategic experience with stimulating visuals, look elsewhere. Jungle Race isn’t that and shouldn’t be expected to be so. Jungle Race is great for what it is: a lightweight, single-player, bluffing racing game that you or your kids can spend spurts of 5-20 satisfying minutes playing. A digital adaptation of the Jungle Race board game makes sense, as an app can capture the excitement and movement of a race, and Jungle Race Digital does an admirable job. With such a low price point, if it sounds intriguing to you (or your kids) at all, it’s probably worth a look. 

The Bottom Line

A digital adaptation of the Jungle Race board game makes sense, as an app can capture the excitement and movement of a race, and Jungle Race Digital does an admirable job.

 

7.5

spencer
Author: Spencer Patterson

I'm a resident director, writer, and board game reviewer. My wife is my favorite gaming partner, and our daughters are my favorite reading partners. X: @unstuffedwhale