Every now and again you're hit with a game that does everything perfect. If you're a big ol' geek like me, you love your retro games, comics, cheesy films... everything. Recently released onto XBox Live Arcade there's a game that parodies pretty much everything that I like. Surely it can't go wrong?... Let's find out...
#0000BF">Grumpy Ol Gamer's
Top 5 Grumblings about...
For those of you who haven't played the demo, you may not know what you're in for. You might have an indication, but you won't KNOW! Some people have made the obvious comparison to Sega's 'Comix Zone' (also available on XBLA for 800msps)
, or the new 'Spider-man:Shattered Dimensions'. I'd say the second is at least closer. I wouldnt compare it to comic jumper at all, thats like trying to compare Mario to Luigi... there's NO similarity at all... other than they look the same...But no, 'Comic Jumper' reminds me most of the classic OCEAN movie licensed games where the first section is a platform game, the next is a driving section, after that it's a beat-em-up. It's a collection of different gametypes rolled into one, and thats both what makes it excellent and annoying at the same time.
There ARE a few different game types in the demo alone : A scrolling beat-em-up, a run-and-gunner and an on-rails shooter. But the first gripe I have with this game is in the beat-em-up section...
5) UM, GUNS MAKE ME FLY?
In the first section, You're given two attack buttons. One that attacks forward, one that attacks both backwards AND forwards at the same time. The section plays kind of like the classic game 'Kung Fu Master (Aka Jackie Chan's Kung Fu on the NES.)
. You punch/kick anyone in your way (with humourous consequences) and hope that they don't grab you. But... well... you can't jump. Okay, this section isn't a platform game, but you'd expect a superhero with a cape would have the ability to leave the ground for a second. It would've added an extra dimension to the gameplay at least. But no, Captain Smiley's strapped solidly down to firm ground in this section... but not in the next? In the next you're suddenly bounding through the air twin-pistol shooting anything that moves like you're the lycra-clad version of Chow Yun-Fat in a John Woo movie. What? Guns give you the ability to jump? Is this a Peter Pan thing? He's so happy blasting away that... ...no, that probably makes a bit too much sense.
4) 'EXTRA EFFORT', OR LACK THEREOF!
The extras. Well, basically a bunch of em - and that's a GOOD thing. They're not half bad either. There's videos, music, artwork, a theme, gamerpics and a couple of extra levels for one of their other hit game : 'Splosion Man'. Unfortunately this is where it gets annoying. Everything on here has to be earnt. Which is fine - It's easy to rack up the cash required for them. Hell, you earn a multiplier bonus every time you buy something... so basically the more you buy, the more cash you'll earn for next time. But... ONE AT A TIME!?!? There's 160 concept pics, 25 comic covers, 25 audio clips, 6 videos and about 10 extra bits and bobs. Each time you purchase an item, it plays a little animation of a box unlocking and opening. Then you have to move to the next one and do the same thing again. That's over 200 times! Sure you could do it in waves, but when you've got the credits, and the chance to get MORE credits by unlocking them - the more you unlock at one time, the better, right. So just unlocking the objects takes a good half hour upwards. Then when you go to view the objects, another misdemeanor! For the videos and music, it's fine. But when you want to view a vast amount of artwork (I wanted to view it all in one go, because i didnt want any spoilers.) you have to press the 'A' button to open the file, then press the 'B' button to stop viewing it before moving onto the next image. Surely they couldve just made it so you press LB/RB to swap between them once you're viewing. But the thing that really got my goat up - NO ZOOM OPTION! What? With artwork, especially comic book pages... y'know with text on it, you want to be able to zoom in and read the text, right? Nope. No option at all. You could maybe buy yourself a billion-inch screen and squint to try and make it out, but that's still not what should be available. I know these things aren't anything to do with the actual gameplay. But when part of your audience is going to have an over healthy appreciation for comics - we're going to want to be able to see them properly.
3) WOW! DIFFERENT COMICS? WHAT SPLENDID VARIATION!
Um. Not so much. Credit where credit's due. This game does have a lot of variety. As stated earlier, it's like you're playing a variety of different games in the same level - One minute you're played 'Rastan', then suddenly its 'Metal Slug', then there's a section reminiscent of 'Panzer Dragoon'. But then you jump to another comic/level expecting big changes and... its identical. It's so formulaic that it ends up feeling that each comic is more like a paint job. You'd think there'd be a slight
change in weaponry or the way you manoeuvre , but its basically the same as the previous levels. Oh, sure it might look a little different. But as a self confessed retrogamer - looks aren't everything... and I expected better.
2) EASY MONEY!
As stated earlier, it's easy to gain money in this game. Not only do you get money for completing the levels, and killing enemies, but there are certain challenges within the levels where you have the chance to earn bonus cash on the side. Alls well so far. But then, outside of the levels you can complete challenge levels too. These usually take the form of small sections of the level you've played where you have to avoid all enemies. Except even if you fail those challenges... you still get paid! Hey, if this were the real world - I'd love it. But in the game, it makes unlocking things waaay too easy. You get cash multipliers for unlocking the extras, so when you fail a two minute challenge and then still get a good $3000 - you can unlock everything after the first level really. It's just another thing that hinders the longevity of the game. Speaking of which...
1) SERIOUSLY, IS THAT IT?
Okay, I would normally warn you about spoilers here, but between all the advertising and coverage you should know this bit here. You only travel between FOUR comics. Now four should be more than enough, right? When handled correctly, yes. But this wouldnt appear that way. The first comic is more of a short introduction to the game, then the next three comics are done in order - so there's no real sense of jumping back and forth between the books. You literally go through what feels basically like level 1-1 to 1-3, then onto level 2-1 onwards. It just makes the game feel a bit short. On top of that, add that there's no real challenge to this. When you lose a few lives in the level, you eventually become invincible. That's right, the game decides that you're lame and makes it so that nothing can hurt you for the rest of the level. Where does the challenge lie in that?! Okay, I don't want to have to restart the game again, but it's not a logic based game and how are you supposed to get more skilled at games in general if the game gets easier the more you die. Going back to the last checkpoint is enough for you to improve a little and progress. This hinders it totally. Now, back to the number of levels issue : If you could actually jump back and forth between the comics, doing something in one world that interacts with characters and events in another, you could lengthen the experience by a good couple of hours. But even if they had that, it feels like Twisted Pixel are planning DLC and have kept a couple of levels to one side. If this were an 800msp game, I wouldn't have minded. But this is a 1200msp game, and whilst the extra themes, etc are great - an extra comic or two wouldve been a bit more welcome.
Well, as I will always say. I grumble for a reason, mainly so that future developers will take note and improve their games. With a company like Twisted Pixel I hope so, 'cos even WITH these flaws its hard to dislike this game. Yes, its repetetive and kind of easy, but it bursts with such character and humour that you still end up loving it. Twisted Pixel are one of my favorite creators at the moment with both 'The Maw' and 'Splosion Man' being excellent games, and they seem to have their own brand of twisted humour embedded within these games. This is another piece of brilliance that holds only a few nigly errors that grind my gears, and whilst the 1200msps for this game is a little steep - I'd rather give my money to a company like this than whoever churns out the next CallOfDuty or DevilMayCry clone. In the end, it's a fun and mostly original game that fans of the comics world should really enjoy. If the bolts and screws were tightened I would be giving this a full 5 out of 5. But in the end, It'll have to settle for a 4. Now THAT's what makes me really Grumpy!
#BF0000">COMIC JUMPER - 4 out of 5
Grumpy Ol' Gamer - Graphics are to games, as Paul WS Anderson is to movies. Even when they look good, doesn't make it so. (And yet you'll buy them anyway.)