On the 13th December 2008, a number of Escapist forum goers decided to meet in Sydney. We visited an arcade, and here found a truly amazing game which none of us had ever seen or heard of before.
It's a Jeep!
SEGA's Let's Go Jungle: Lost In The Island Of Spice (Or Lit-ee-os as I've nicknamed it) has many more appealing factors that its name, which I first found to be dull and off-putting as an immediate introduction to the game itself. I 'hopped into the console's Jeep set-up expecting nothing more than some piss-weak safari photographing. In terms of construction, it appeared as though someone had lopped the back off of a Land Rover and stuck it to a wall with a big screen and two mounted swivel-controllers. God only knows what made one of the other people drag me to it. I settled my hands about the controller and waited for the intro cut scene to pass.
There was a standard short animation for the introductory piece. Slightly geeky heterosexual couple decide to go on a safari while travelling the world. The woman had pulled back red hair and glasses, while the male of the pair reminded me quite vividly of a number of friends, skinny, short brown hair.. you know the drill. This is definitely something made with the broad pixel-eyed community in mind. Oh joy. Yaw-.. were those spiders I just saw?
My eyes did not deceive me and indeed they were. Big, fuck-off spiders. The hell? I thought this was a photograph-the-cute-little-animals type of game! I was plunged head first into an adrenaline-pumping ride, shooting down all manner of overgrown creatures. The aforementioned spiders got to eat hot lead from an AK-47, while at another point large frogs were swatted back with rowing paddles; or a slingshot was used to target mutant wasps and wetas larger than a Labrador. There were even boulderesque slaters to contend with. It was, in short, wild.
As a rail shooter, Lit-ee-os plays quite well. There's no point at which you will be asked to reload, and pointing the anchored 'gun' controller at the screen felt satisfyingly similar to using a tank gun turret that I found myself quite entertained. If you liked being able to hang on to the back of a Warthog in Halo but regretted not having something more real to actually hold, this is for you. The trigger set-up sent me back to my joystick days with Descent and similar things.
SEGA decided to toss some quick-time events in there for us, but they were (in general) very forgiving and had plenty of warning. Some even felt appropriate, like jerking the controller to one side so the jeep would dodge a long-collapsed stone column. Other times these were an irritation detracting from the fact that I was otherwise able to mow down legions of unfairly huge creatures out of phobic nightmares. On that note, a warning goes out to the Arachnophobes that unless you're up for dealing with giant spiders and similarly sized insects, you're not going to be thrilled. One comment made by a fellow player who is Arachnophobic was of immense satisfaction at being able to prod some spider buttox, in a very compelling way.
This is definitely a multiplayer game, if not only because it is a little too difficult for one person to successfully play, unless they have obscene amounts of cash available. Let's face it, that's not really the gamer style. So you'll need someone alongside you, and I'd recommend someone you like.
When there's something strange...
The two characters themselves suffered the same thing many arcade game avatars do, in that they were shallow and unappealing, but much of this was set aside by the thrill of the game itself. Then, at the end of a level, I realised that there was a match compatibility score given for progress so far. It was hilarious to see, especially as I kept wondering exactly what they used as a gauge of suitability. As mentioned before, definitely multi-player. The laughs are continuous.
Who else but SEGA would mix a light gun rail shooter with a dating sim? Who else would get away with it?
The amusement of this addition was increased when, once we had finished and were about to leave, closer inspection of the 'jeep' we'd been sitting in revealed various tacky-but-hilarious bumper stickers, with slogans such as 'love' upon them.
From the amount I've waxed on I think it's fair to guess that I really liked Lit-ee-os. The game is exceptionally satisfying if you're in for a challenge. This put the laughter back into the slaughter of critters. The satire was brilliant, leaving me with a monstrous grin and lack of breath from laughing (and swearing) at the game itself. It was an odd shock to find such action in something I'd expected so much less from and I can only regret running out of cash before we ran out of game to play.
Recommended? Hell yes. If you're an arcade owner reading this, get it, then tell me where you are
so I can steal it away in a jeep of my own.