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Written by  :  SomeRandomHEFan (55)
Written on  :  May 13, 2020
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars
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Summary

A solid edutainment game. Nothing more, nothing less.

The Good

This is the third and final entry in the Junior Field Trip series. Although it follows the exact same formula as last time, there are some notable improvements.

Said improvements are especially apparent in the graphical department. Not only is the linework more polished for the most part, but the coloring has notably more detail. By the standards of its time, a lot of the scenery actually looks rather nice. Furthermore, Buzzy's animation has gotten a lot better.

The encyclopedia is also a step up. Its entries tend to be more lengthy than before, with a few of them even having a second page. There are also new features for informing you of endangered animals as well as the geographic location of each and every one of the things it covers.

Like last time, there is also an abundance of clickpoints. They're not as wacky as some of the things that happen in Let's Explore the Airport, but there are still plenty of amusing surprises among them.

The game delivers in the minigame department, too. The unique educational minigame this time is Jungle Jumble. It's a very simple game in which you're supposed to unscramble the word you're told. Since many among the game's target audience are still learning how to spell, the game provides visual feedback in the form of a scrambled picture that gets increasingly unscrambled as you fix the word. Seeing how I'm way too old to need this feature, I can't personally attest to its efficiency, but I could see young children getting some enjoyment out of this. The non-educational minigame, Anteater Feeder, is a decently enjoyable shooting gallery with a fair amount of variety and a good balance of risk versus reward. It doesn't have an ending however. It simply stops naming levels after 100.

The Bad

All that said, this is still a Junior Field Trip, and so old problems with the series still remain. That is to say, the educational aspects of the game are rather dry and lacking in personality. And what little there is in the way of music isn't very good, though I will admit that Anteater Feeder's music is somewhat better than the rest.

The recurring minigames are pretty much the same as usual, although I found this version of Find It to be notably harder. Because the entire game takes place in three jungles, individual locations don't stick out as much as in previous games, which makes it harder to keep track of exactly where everything is.

Also, while most of the game's visuals are decent for their time, some of the images in the encyclopedia are drawn and colored far more realistically than the rest of the game. It makes for a jarring contrast and just looks creepy. Perhaps they didn't seem so bad back in the day, but graphics tend to age more quickly the more realistic they are. Plus, they're generally static, which feels like a step back from Let's Explore the Airport's occasionally animated encyclopedia images. Considering most of the images depict animals, animation could have worked really well here.

Finally, while the game does have plenty of interesting information about Jungles that I imagine even most adults don't know about, it's not free of factual errors. Some of the animals don't actually live where the game claims they do (for example, the antbird is native to Central and South America, not Africa). The script also falsely refers to venom as poison. It's possible that the writer just wanted to avoid confusing children with a word they may not know, but the difference between the two could have easily been explained in the encyclopedia.

The Bottom Line

Overall, this is a relatively solid edutainment game. Certainly better than Let's Explore the Farm, and arguably slightly better than Let's Explore the Airport as well. Its improvements over the latter outweigh its new flaws overall. That being said, all of the issues inherent to the general formula of the series still remain. It's not hard to see why these games are nowhere near as fondly remembered as the Junior Adventures and the Backyard Sports titles. At their core, they're simply fairly ordinary edutainment games. It's possible the series could have turned into something better, had Humongous Entertainment continued working on it, but I'm glad they invested their resources into other projects instead, as many of those would end up being far more memorable.