|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Twisted Pixel||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 6, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
With such a strong emphasis on humor, you would hope that the games mechanics would balance out. Thankfully, it does, at least with the right point of view. Essentially most of the time youll play the game like a dual-stick analog shooter in the vein of Contra or Gunstar Heroes, with the occasional brawling, platforming, or on-rails section (think Sin & Punishment) thrown in for good measure. Its actually better to go into the game with an arcade mindset, since the mechanics dont really change or evolve over time. The slick visuals and general feel may lull you into thinking the game is going to evolve, with new abilities to unlock and additional gameplay elements that will crop up, but Comic Jumper is really much more of an old-school arcade game with modern trappings. If youre cool with that, youll probably enjoy it, though you should be prepared to take some punishment from the games steep difficulty.
It is a little bit disappointing that the game changes so little from level to level, or even world to world, however. Essentially, once youve played a couple of levels of Comic Jumper, youve probably played them all, with minor variations. Only the level and character skins change (which are admittedly pretty neat). There are still some definite surprises to the game, though. Smiley and Star take a trip back to the Silver age of comics (read: the 1960s), which gives our heroes, as well as the world around them, a Jack Kirby-style makeover; the villainess of the Silver age comic is a hardcore, second-wave feminist, which lends itself to countless jokes about either gender stereotypes or misogyny. Twisted Pixel also makes fun of the cultural attitudes of the time, blatantly subverting them with, say, a comics censorship board that fines Star or Smiley every time they do something indecent during the game. I was pretty surprised at some of the jokes seen here, although the manga section may be even more ridiculous. I dont want to spoil anything, and I hope for your sake you dont end up reading about Smileys makeover, let alone some of the other things that happen in the manga section, before playing the game; lets just say that JRPG fans and Otakus will likely get a kick out of what happens. Even the Conan-style rip off, Nanoc the Obliviator, has its moments, though youll have to experience them for yourself.
Ultimately, Comic Jumper is a good game with a fantastic script and limited range in terms of gameplay mechanics. For once, this is a title I would recommend based on its narrative rather than how it actually plays, a total-180 compared to most games made these days. If you can stand its arcade-rigid mechanics and a few repetitive stages, this one should keep you entertained for a while, considering the challenge levels and all the extras and jokes Twisted Pixel have stuffed in here. Just one word of advice: youll enjoy it more if you dont blow through it in a day. Its rare to find a game thats as entertaining as Comic Jumper, even when its gameplay lags a little. Do yourself a favor, and dont spoil it.
CCC Freelance Writer