Disney Jungle Cruise: Adventure Game captures the leisurely and pun-filled appeal of the classic Disneyland ride, while also providing a fun challenge that mixes tile placement mechanics with a race to the finish. Available now at most retailers, Disney Jungle Cruise: Adventure Game, designed by Prospero Hall and published by Ravensburger, is a 2-4 player game set against the backdrop of the vague jungle toured by passengers of the Jungle Navigation Company Headquarters. Each player is tasked with getting a boat full of passengers and cargo through the tour, dodging fearsome threats like the Indo-Chinese Tiger or the Backside of Water, while also trying to determine which of four families has been named the caretaker of the Company. Along the way, they'll pick up lost cargo, make terrible jokes, and rearrange their boat to keep their most precious cargo secured.
At the start of the game, each player picks one of four boats named after ships from the actual Jungle Cruise ride, and fills it with passengers from all four families. The boat is divided into four sections, with the center section being the safest. Players are also armed with a Warning Flare that allows for a one-time re-roll of the Danger Dice that determines whether your ship's cargo lives to see another round, or falls into the water.
Gameplay is relatively simple - players roll a dice and then move along the river route, automatically stopping at any Outposts or Clue locations. Then, they draw four Encounter cards from a deck, each of which lists a Threat Level and a part of the boat that's being targeted. Players have to choose a number of Navigation Cards equal to the number of spaces they move, and then roll a number of Danger Dice equal to the card's Threat level. If the dice lands with an exclamation point showing, players pick either a passenger or a box of cargo from the part of the boat shown on the Navigation Card. After the encounters are resolved, players then pick up cargo from either a pile of Lost and Found tiles, or choose between a piece of cargo or a Lost Passenger if they've landed on an outpost. Players can also re-arrange their boat's load at the beginning of any turn, with the center of the boat being safe from all but a handful of cards. There's a bit of strategy involved here - as players can choose to spread their cargo out to minimize possible impact, or leave on part of the boat empty, as you can't lose cargo that's not already there.
While players have to stop at certain locations, they can choose to take shortcuts for a quicker journey. However, taking a shortcut means missing out on valuable Clue tokens, which show one of the four family's symbols. Each of the clues along the route indicates that family is not the caretaker family, and thus is worth less points at the end of the game. The clue at the Outpost represents the actual Caretaker family, who players will want to protect to maximize their point total. Knowing which family is the Caretaker Family will help players choose which passengers to protect, and which passengers are safe to lose overboard. There are also opportunities to retrieve lost passengers, so knowing which family isn't the Caretaker family can help players decide which passenger they want back on their board.
At the end of the game, players score 5 points for every member of the Caretaker Family left on their boat, and 3 points for every other passenger. They also score 10 points if they have a set of the three different types of cargo on board and 1 point for every piece of cargo that's not part of a set. Players also earn Tips for being the first back to the Headquarters, which are also worth points.
As a longtime fan of the Jungle Cruise line, I recognized almost all of the different encounters and most of the terrible jokes printed on the card that are a trademark of the ride. While the game's 45-60 minute length can feel a bit tedious at times due to how each round is basically identical, this is still a fun family-focused game that's a step up on typical family game night fare. There's enough strategy to keep adults happy, and the whole family will groand as they read out the bad puns. Thanks to the shifting Clue Cards that are randomly placed at the beginning of the game, there's also more than enough replayability to keep each game different...although, just like the ride, the jokes don't change from game to game. If you're looking for a lighthearted family night game, Disney Jungle Cruise: Adventure Games is definitely worth a look.
Rating: 4 out of 5