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Jungle Rangers (PC) Review

 
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At a Glance...
 

Formats: PC/Mac
 
Genre:
 
Publisher:
 
Final Score
8.5
8.5/ 10


User Rating
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We liked?


A comprehensive approach to improving focus that kids enjoy.

Not so much?


Requires complete concentration right from the start, difficult for those the game is intended for.


Final Fiendish Findings?

Jungle Rangers is an interesting concept – a game that kids will enjoy, that also leads to improved focus. As part of the ifocus system, you and your child will both work on a variety of strategies that will promote improved concentration, and the success of that will depend larger upon your consistency as parents. Even without any added techniques, though, the Jungle Rangers game itself requires near complete concentration, and playing it on a regular basis should help kids get into the habit of better focusing on their surroundings. Even better, kids like it and enjoy playing it – what more could you ask?

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Posted March 19, 2013 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

Jungle Rangers is a game that promises to improve focus in your six to twelve year old. But will your kids actually want to play it?jungle-rangers-exploring standard_lrg_01b standard-deluxe_lrg_03

Now here’s a twist: a video game you actually want encourage your kids to play. Jungle Rangers is an education based game that purports to increase focus and concentration, all while being fun and engaging for the kids who play it. The Jungle Rangers game comes with a comic book that is meant to introduce your child to the characters and get them interested in the game, so it’s recommended that you have them read that before they begin playing. Aside from the fact that reading is always a good thing, the comic book is actually quite well done. It is printed on thick paper that will stand up to multiple reads, and the characters are drawn in a colorful and appealing style. My kids picked it up and started reading right away on their own, no encouragement needed.

When you are ready to begin the game itself, you’ll find that it is capable of holding up to five profiles, each keeping track of the age and progress of the individual player. This is important, as Jungle Rangers is a game that claims to “learn” the player. Each player begins on the same playing field, and works on the same type of challenges, but Jungle Rangers will adjust the difficulty level based on how each player performs, which will hopefully result in challenge without undo frustration.

You play as a new recruit to the Jungle Rangers team (you may choose between a male and female character), invited to join them on their mystical island and aid them in their quest to stop evil Dr. Bearhead from destroying their island home. As you work your way through the island, you will be met with a variety of challenges that will help you improve your concentration. While these vary in type, they all require constant attention if you want to succeed. And I don’t just mean for kids. Parents are encouraged to play the game as well, both to be able to discuss it with their children and to improve their own focus. While the concept of each game is generally simple (at least to start), looking away or not paying attention in another manner (for instance, trying to explain what you are doing to watching small fry) will result in instant losses, and I can see where regular play would really help in the area of just plain paying attention.

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Each of the challenges themselves are quite lengthy, although you are allowed to exit at any point and return another time. They start out with something relatively simply; for instance, watching a little boy in a frog costume hop across tree trunks and repeat his pattern. But, as you succeed, the difficulty ramps up significantly, adding various patterns and distractions that will require your constant attention. It really is an ingenious approach to the idea of improving focus. The only complaints I had with the challenges were that, at times, the instructions that explains the escalating difficulty were not always clear, meaning you end up losing a few times before you figure out what you need to do. For the most part, it wasn’t a big deal, but it could lead to added frustration for certain personalities (and for those, the parent playing first and helping when the child gets stuck should take care of the issue).

The other complaint is that you play the same simple game (with increasing difficulty) for a long time. For the kid who likes to play for a while, or the completionist who wants to finish a level before moving to the next, this might cause a bit of boredom. Yes, it gets harder, but you are watching the same character, in the same environment, doing essentially the same thing, and that can be a bit tedious. There are two thing that ease that. First, you can exit the game (it will save your spot) and go back and forth between several for variety. Second, the ifocus system suggests the game be played for thirty minutes a day, so if you keep to that schedule rather than allowing extra game time, they shouldn’t be playing long enough for true boredom.

Jungle Rangers is part of the ifocus system. Based on principals created by some pretty impressive minds in science and child psychology, the system is meant to be a comprehensive approach to increasing concentration and focus in any child – from the overly hyper kid who just can’t seem to sit still long enough to pay attention, to the model child who is always looking for another challenge. It combines the fun aspects of the colorful video game (meant to be played for thirty minutes daily) with suggestions for the whole family to work on. The set includes the Jungle Rangers game itself, as well as Quick Start cards and audio CDs that attacks the goal of better focus on multiple levels. While most of the parent techniques given aren’t something completely new, it is a comprehensive approach that, if followed consistently, should lead to improvements in concentration overall.

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Let me just admit this right here: I am exactly the sort of person this game was created for. While I am not ADHD in the clinical sense, I love multitasking, I don’t like to sit still, and I absolutely abhor doing only one thing at a time. To be honest, I don’t generally consider that to be a bad thing. It gives me a certain amount of energy and drive that keeps me both creative and striving for bigger and better things. However, I grew up in a different time, where kids were allowed a lot more physical freedom and free time than they are now. I have children myself, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and neighborhood friends, and today’s education environment is not one that generally allows for a bouncy kid to do well. Plus, for anyone, a lack of concentration and focus can lead to stupid mistakes, on anything from a test to your daily commute. Being able to focus on one thing does have its purpose.

That being said, it pretty much drove me insane to just sit there and watch, which is the main mechanic of the game. Watch what’s going on and repeat it, watch what’s going on and react, watch what’s going on and remember – you get the point. You need to play this game and do nothing else, and that was difficult for me. From the standpoint of one end of the spectrum, I can see where the thirty minute a day suggestion has another purpose – you want your kid to enjoy playing the game, and much longer than that for people like me would simply be unpleasant. From the other side of the spectrum, I have children myself – two of which are in the target age for the game, and both of whom have my genes diluted by their much calmer father.

Both my six year old daughter and eight year old son enjoyed the game. They found the characters and environments very appealing, and the controls very simple to use (pretty much just the space bar and arrow keys). They were excited to play Jungle Rangers when they saw me playing (and offered lots of suggestions to me), and it held their interest quite well, both as spectators and players. They did feel some frustration, though, as both found the ramping difficulty quite difficult. However, it was more challenge than frustration, and both asked to play again.

Jungle Rangers is an interesting concept – a game that kids will enjoy, that also leads to improved focus. As part of the ifocus system, you and your child will both work on a variety of strategies that will promote improved concentration, and the success of that will depend larger upon your consistency as parents. Even without any added techniques, though, the Jungle Rangers game itself requires near complete concentration, and playing it on a regular basis should help kids get into the habit of better focusing on their surroundings. Even better, kids like it and enjoy playing it – what more could you ask?


Amy

 
U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)