Twisted Pixel Games are probably well known for their other games ‘The Maw’ and the more recent ‘Splosion Man’ which have graced the XBLA to much fanfare. Well, a new game has arisen from their studios entitled ‘Comic Jumper’ which sees you take the lagging career of obnoixious superhero Captain Smiley and turn things around so that he can be popular within the comic world. To do this means you’ll have to part with some MS Points and get involved with various roles in other comics across generations in this side scrolling shooter cum beat em up. It’s a mish mash of styles both visually and in gameplay, but does this ecclectic mix work in the game’s favour or does it mask what is essentially a very simple game?
Comic Jumper really excells in its presentation, and after the first introductory mission you’ll be giggling like a schoolgirl at the numerous wisecracks and movie references, as well as being infuriated at the leading character for being so dry. The amalgamation of two characters into one creates a sense of bitterness which is deliberate, and once the opening is over you’ll feel well in tune with the not so well gelled together duo as you punch two shades of s@!# out of the star attached to your chest. It’s amusing for all the right reasons, and the following video sequence after the first mission is over exemplifies what you’re probably already feeling (no spoilers here). Aside from the ticklish opening, you’ll have pretty much mastered what the gameplay offers in the first 20 minutes of play. Punch and kick with simple two buttoned attacks, and then aim and shoot whilst jumping around the screen to get from A to B whilst avoiding all sorts of enemies and their projectiles. It’s simple but effective, however, what really keeps the pace going are the laughs and high production value presentation graphics. It’s safe to say this is a comedy comic, and once you’ve traversed several of the ages of comics it mimics will feel right at home as you tape your finger to the RT (fire button).
Between missions you’ll head back to base where some of the background is fleshed out a little more, you see, during missions Smiley is transformed into a character befitting of the style of comic; so it’s during the inbetween bits that you see him in his natural state. The base also acts as a hub for unlocking extra game content, and even interacting with some of the characters you’ve met in your travels. It’s a neat way of providing a menu and works well within the context of the game.
Aside from undertaking the story based missions, you’re also able to embark on various challenges which can help you hone your skills, as well as earn credits for those unlockables. It’s a welcome addition, and if you’re of the competitive nature, then there are leaderboards so you can compare yourself to friends and the rest of the gaming community.
The game crosses the boundaries of several different comic styles include Manga, Silver age, hand drawn and modern, each one being very different from the last – although the black and white Manga style seems less easy on the eyes. The variety is welcome, and somewhat compliments the gameplay as you whisk from side scrolling shooter, to on rails shooter, even a game of asteroids is thrown in for good measure. The game copies pretty much every style and it works very well. The animations are good, the bright colours are fitting, and the overall level of presentation is probably the game’s biggest strength.
The audio has high production values featuring some great vocal performances, although Smiley is deliberately annoying, so how much you warm to him depends on your nature. That said, the game’s soundtrack is as entertaining as the visual style and offers a fair amount of diversity. Just beware of the stats screen ditty.
You’ll bowl through the game pretty much in an afternoon of solid play, and will most likely gain all of the achievements in the process. You can replay levels, and earn credits to the treasure trove of unlockables, but beyond this, there’s not much more to do other than try and best your high scores, or those of your friends.
Comic Jumper offers a veritable slice of old school gaming with a sheen of modern polish, a lot of humour to make a game which stands out in the crowd of similar action games. It’s full of laughs, and the reference to the movie ‘Total Recall’ has to be seen to be believed. If you’re after an amusing, and not too taxing arcade game that will keep you throughly entertained for a few days, then this is well worth checking out.