Publisher: Twisted Pixel
Developer: Twisted Pixel
by: Marc "DjinniMan" Alli
Comic Jumper is the latest offering from Twisted Pixel, creators of The Maw and ‘Splosion Man. The hero in Comic Jumper is Captain Smiley, a blue-and-yellow clad muscleman with a talking Star on his chest and a round head reminiscent of…well, a smiley face. Shortly after the game begins, Captain Smiley’s comic is cancelled due to low sales. His only option for renewal is to earn money by guest starring in other comics. In each of these comic books, the art style changes drastically; in the Conan-inspired fantasy world, the Captain is decked out in leather and sabre-tooth tiger skins, while in the manga world, he is a black-and-white, spiky haired protagonist and the normally gruff Star is more Hello Kitty than Dirty Harry. These changes in appearance and style will definitely keep a smile on your face, if you’ll pardon the pun.
The gameplay, on the other hand, may just have you tossing your controller at the screen in frustration. The fact is, Comic Jumper is very, very difficult. It’s a mix of platformer and dual stick shooter, with the Captain attacked from all sides by all manner of bad guys. If you didn’t grow up in the 8 or 16 bit eras, this might just be one of the toughest games you’ve ever played. Using both sticks to move, shoot, and then having to worry about jumping as well is finger-crampingly hard. There are no health orbs to help you, either. The good news? You respawn infinitely, so you don’t need to worry about losing lives. Dying will set you back a few minutes, however, and though the hilarious quips from Captain Smiley at his death (“I hope your friends aren’t watching!”) lessen the blow, you might have to replay a section dozens of times before you succeed.
You can upgrade Captain Smiley’s abilities by spending cash earned throughout the game, thankfully. In all likelihood, you’ll need to play through the special challenge levels multiple times in order to gain enough money for the best upgrades. Increased damage, especially, is vital to Captain Smiley’s success, particularly later in the game when the levels and bosses are incredibly tough.
The levels in Comic Jumper are somewhat repetitive, which, like the difficulty, is very old school. But there are several things that mix it up just enough to keep it interesting. A few punching and brawling sections, as well as sequences where the action goes over the Captain’s shoulder, much like a lightgun game are welcome changes of pace. The shifting art style helps, too, but the real reason you’ll keep playing even when the game gets a bit tedious is the humor. I cannot recall ever playing a game as outright hilarious as Comic Jumper. There are many self-referential bits that will have you laughing out loud, and the comic timing between Captain Smiley and Star is wonderful. It’s easily the most enjoyable aspect of the game. I highly recommend Comic Jumper; it is one of the finest downloadable titles I’ve ever played.