Tarzan Untamed Preview

We take Ubi Soft's upcoming GameCube title for a spin.

Avoiding alligators can be fun and good for your health.
Avoiding alligators can be fun and good for your health.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with a near-final build of Ubi Soft's GameCube launch title Tarzan Untamed. An enhanced port of the upcoming PlayStation 2 game, Tarzan Untamed on the GameCube will make some improvements to the graphics of its PS2 cousin. Developed by Ubi Soft's Canadian studio, whose previous work includes Speedzone on the Dreamcast and Batman: Vengeance on the PlayStation 2, the game is coming along quite well.

Getting tricky on the river.
Getting tricky on the river.

The game's story picks up where the movie left off, following Tarzan and Jane as they try to live happily ever after. Their jungle bliss is cut short by the arrival of hunters who begin kidnapping baby apes. You'll take control of Tarzan as he heads off to rescue the kidnapped babies and drive the hunters off. The game is broken up into two modes: story and Terk's challenge. Story mode will offer 15 levels spread out across three environments: the jungle, the swamp, and the elephant graveyard. Gameplay will range from standard platforming fare such as platform jumping, item collecting, and exploration to jungle-themed waterskiing, surfing, and bungie jumping. Terk's challenge will challenge you to beat a high score in levels you've already completed. If you manage to clear the various challenges, you'll be rewarded with new tricks to use as Tarzan and new playable characters.

You'll be able to perform a wide variety of moves as Tarzan. Those familiar with the Disney film will recognize many of his signature moves such as swinging on vines, sliding on branches, and yelling. In addition, you'll be able to collect spears and perform special tricks for points as you make your way through the game. The game's control layout works fairly well. You'll move Tarzan with the analog stick and jump with the A button. The B button grabs spears when you pass near a cluster of them, and the Y button fires them off. An auto-targeting system makes most shots bull's-eyes. The X button performs Tarzan's trademark yell, which can be used to call on friendly animals to aid you. Finally, the R trigger is used in conjunction with the analog pad to perform tricks. The layout is greatly simplified during the bungie, skiing, and surfing levels, in which you'll just concern yourself with avoiding obstacles.

Graphically, the game is very sharp, performing better than its PlayStation 2 cousin. Although development for Tarzan Untamed has gone on, in one form or another, for the past two years or so, the current build of the GameCube version was created in a relatively short period of time. In spite of that, Ubi Soft's Montreal studio has managed to get quite a bit of eye candy out of the hardware. The graphics are very clean, featuring such nice touches as reflections in the water and crisp textures. One of the most notable boosts seen on the GameCube is Tarzan Untamed's constant 60fps frame rate, which is a cut above the PS2's 30. Granted, the game isn't demanding too much of the system, but it's still nice to see a high frame rate. It should be noted that the animation on Tarzan was a bit stiff in the build we played, though.

In our time with the game, we found it to be a pretty engaging ride. The control was fairly responsive, and, after a few tries, we managed to get the timing for Tarzan's various moves down without too much trouble. The graphics were nicely done, featuring character design that was faithful to the spirit of the film, and the jungle-themed "extreme sports" levels offered a nice diversion. The game is on track to be a solid platformer for the GameCube. Gamers eager to take to the trees can look for Tarzan Untamed at the GameCube launch next week.

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