One of the problems with playing games on your mobile phone is multiplayer. Playing across bluetooth or IR can be tricky, and playing across GPS or GPRS can be really expensive. Besides, these methods need two phones and two copies of the game and I want to challenge my phoneless friend who's right here beside me. The traditional method would be to share the controls, but how do you share out a tiny mobile phone keypad? Jumbo Rumble uses a simple control method allowing you to bypass these problems and to share your mobile gaming experience with a couple of friends.

Vital Statistics

Name: Jumbo Rumble
Publisher: Sumea
Released: 2005
Platforms: Most J2ME-enabled mobile phones
Formats: Available as WAP download
Original Price: £2.50 - £3.00 to buy / 50p for 3 day rent in the UK

Silly Name. What Happens?

So, you're an elephant. You, and some other elephants are on a raft. What have you gotta do? Push the others off, give them flies, trample on some melons; that sort of thing. Think Monkey Battle from Super Monkey Ball -- except with elephants, not monkeys -- and you're pretty much there.

Gameplay

The cleverness in the game is in the controls. In order to move your elephant around you use, wait for it, a single key on the ketpad. Whilst you're not pressing, your elephant rotates. When you press the button, he begins to charge forwards, and when you let go, he rotates again - but in the opposite direction. This is how the multiplayer -- up to three players -- can be acheived, as each player needs only to stick his thumb over his chosen button. To knock another elephant off, you simply charge at it. During a collision the elephants bounce off each other depending on their realive velocities and direction, so get it right and you can pound your opponent into the drink.

The Game has three modes of play:

Challenge Mode
No other elephants here, just melons. A melon appears randomly on the raft and you have to trample on it, after which a new melon appears. You have a few seconds to get each melon; if you don't get it in time you lose one of three lives. The aim is to get the highest score (number of melons trampled). As you get further, the time speeds up and multiple melons appear. It does seem, however, that the score you get is more related to how lucky you were with the positioning of your melons (oo-er) than your actual skill.
Fight Mode
Three elephants share the one raft. One, two or all three can be human players with not-too-bad AI taking over what's left. You score a point everytime you push an opponent into the water. Four points win a round, and the first to win two rounds win a match. The one-button control means that three players can fit around your phone relatively confortably -- depending on how happy you are with close human proximity -- and the on screen battles quickly degenerate to distraction tactics between the real life players.
Tag Mode
A little odd, this one. There's a fly. The fly follows an elephant and keeps biting him. Get bitten ten times and you lose. If the fly's on you , you can pass him to an opponent by bumping into them. This mode gets pretty chaotic pretty quickly and doesn't really work as well as it could.

Lastability

Most of the game's focus is on the multiplayer modes. If you have a couple of friends that don't mind jostling over a mobile phone screen then you could find this game being whipped out to fill may a bored moment. As a single player game, the melon-crushing Challenge mode is fun for a bit of old-style beat your best score stuff, but there's not a lot to keep you going once you start feeling the frustration. Mind you; the game seems to be available quite cheaply and may be worth a couple of quid if you look like you're gonna have some blank time to fill.

My Really Original Rating System

   Graphics: ######     69  - Not great but does the job
      Sound: ####       46  - Bouncy music, not much else
Playability: ########   87  - Can't fault the controls
Lastability: #######    75  - Multiplayer adds to bounce factor
    Overall: #######    70  - Not great but worth a bargain price

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