At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players
Dave Wickham Nintendo DS Atari Atomic Planet Entertainment 1-4
Requirements Also on... Buy from Amazon.co.uk
1 cart per player for local wireless play Wii Click here to buy Jenga World Tour.

Jenga World Tour review

Upon hearing of the existence of a Jenga game on the DS, my first thought was "why?". Not because of the platform, mind - the DS and Wii would seem to be the best current platforms for a Jenga game to exist on. No, simply because the mere concept of a Jenga video game at all seems pointless to me. Still, it's possible that its transition into video game form has brought along some compelling gameplay tweaks, so let's crack on.

The titular gameplay mode, World Tour, sees you playing Jenga in numerous exotic locations, starting in the USA in the present day, and ending in China in AD 785. Many of these locations try to add variety to basic gameplay by throwing in special conditions, such as immovable blocks or external hazards determined to disrupt your game, but apart from these minor (and sometimes annoying) changes, you're basically playing Jenga.

Of course, real Jenga is a highly tactile game; a lot of the time, you're thinking about how loose a particular block feels, and what the effects of pulling it out will be. Likewise, it's common to look around the tower at different angles, seeing what the likely outcome of moving blocks will be. So, how do these elements translate into a crude stylus-based interface (without any rumble pak support) on a 2D screen? The answer: not very well.

Jenga World Tour tries to compensate for the lack of physical touch feedback by outlining a "touched" block in one of three colours: red, yellow, or green. This shows how "stuck" the block is, and hence how likely it is to affect other blocks. There is also a button that you can use up to three times in a game to show you this colour coding for the entire tower at once, replacing each block's texture with the relevant colour. It will also let you pin up to 2 surrounding blocks in place, allowing you to emulate supporting blocks with your hands. As for the visual element, you have a decent amount of camera control, but it still doesn't compare to being able to move your head to see exactly what you want.

Apart from its namesake mode, Jenga World Tour has three other gameplay modes: arcade, quick play, and multiplayer. I was unable to play the multiplayer mode since it only allows for local multi-cart play, so I can't comment on that. Quick play mode, however, does allow you to play against up to 3 opponents, either human or AI, passing the DS between human players. It also lets you choose the location, block type, and any extra annoyances you may want, such as UFOs shooting at your game. Finally, arcade mode is a strictly single player mode, which challenges you to beat your high score, with a different special - such as stuck blocks - thrown in for each turn. None of these modes are any more compelling than world tour mode, and all leave you with a distinct sense of tedium.

Having played through the entirety of world tour mode, and having given all of the other modes except multiplayer a go, I stand by my initial reaction; I see no reason for this game to have ever existed. The Jenga gameplay is far more suited to a physical set of wooden blocks, not a simple video game system, and it really doesn't translate well.

Ratings

Overall Completely lacking in the social interaction and tactile gameplay present in actual Jenga, World Tour leaves you wondering why you're bothering to play it. Go out and buy a real set and invite some friends over instead. 3/10

Click here to buy Jenga World Tour from Amazon.co.uk.

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