Comic Jumper Review

by on October 4, 2010

Game: Comic Jumper

Developer: Twisted Pixel

Publisher: Microsoft Games Studios

Available On: Xbox LIVE Arcade only

Formed in 2006, Twisted Pixel are a small independant studio that are best known for games containing plenty of humour and fun.  With “The Maw” they debuted on Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE Arcade to a mixed rection.  The follow up was “Splosion Man” which was universally praised for its simplistic fun and hilarious gameplay that never failed to make you smile. It also spawned “Everybody Loves Doughtnuts”, the cult classic song from the soundtrack to the game.

The pressure is on now though, with fans eagerly awaiting the next game, Twisted Pixel appear to have ramped up everything they possibly could to make this game bigger, better and funnier than before.  Did they succeed?  Read on to find out.

[singlepic id=279 w=320 h=240 float=left]Captain Smiley is an unlikely hero really, with a talking “star” on his chest, giving him argumental banter for everything he ever does, actively supporting and cheering his enemies.  Straight away you will fall in love with the humour and style of the game.  It’s very hard to dislike a game that plays up to every cliche (purposefully) whilst simulataneously being a lot of fun to experience.  Starting off with the classic supervillain about to bomb a bank, the introduction to the game (a tutorial of sorts) seems familiar, but soon you’ll realise the twist the developers have added to this simple idea is utterly brilliant.

After the initial act takes place and the third wall is broken down the story really begins.  Captain Smiley’s ratings are down, way down.  In fact he’s been cancelled!  To makes ends meet and to try and get his own comic book back from cancellation he has to guest star in other comics and carry out various tasks that those comic books’ cannon requires.

Most of the game sees Captain Smiley play out as a 2D (with verticality) twin-stick shooter, but Twisted Pixel have been rather clever and included gameplay elements which really vary up the fun.  At times you’ll have to enter quick-time melee event and completing them flawlessley ends up gaining you a bonus which is simply wonderful.  You’ll also take part in melee sections as well, which are usually short and sweet.  Twisted Pixel are part of the game, they are the ones funding your recovery from cancellation so if you you get stuck at a particularly hard part of the game they will come and help you, if you’ve earnt it!  The ensuing video after pressing that help button is nothing short of genius, it’s rare to have a game actually make you laugh out loud, but Comic Jumper achieves it in spades.

[singlepic id=278 w=320 h=240 float=right]You’ll also take part in on-rails 3D shooting sections, going down a hill killing birds and avoiding rocks. In one of the earlier levels it provides a nice change of pace and really helps break the game up into nice bite sized chunks.  Of course there are bosses as well, which manage to be both challenging and fun. The bosses will abuse you whilst you battle and more often than not your companion “star” will join in too!  There is also a home world hub where you can interact with characters from the games universe and you can even visit your own mini-arcade, where you’ll be able to directly download trials or full games of both The Maw and Splosion Man, which is a lovely touch and very clever.

Comic Jumper has personality in spades and it’s hard not to just spend time talking about that, it really does have what is soon to become known as “that Twisted Pixel personality”.  The difference of opinion between Captain Smiley and Star are a joy to behold.  Star’s angry, bitter and grizzled opinions are a fantastic contrast to Captain Smiley, constantly trying but never quite able to reach the heights he wants to.  Star seems to enjoy watching Captain Smiley suffer despite being a part of him and everyone else seems keen to have a pop as well.  Taking damage you’ll be told “50% health left, you having an off day?” or “25% health…getting kinda embarrassing now” by Gerda, Captain Smiley’s unwilling PA.  This game absolutely oozes charm even in the stats menus!

Graphically, Comic Jumper is great too look at.  As is perhaps obvious to any casual observer, the game aesthetically is a comic book, with Smiley leaping from frame to frame at times.  Even with the comic book stylings, it still retains a visual feel akin to Splosion Man or even The Maw, feeling similar yet different.  Jumping in and out of different comic books means every one has a different look and feel to it.  Captain Smiley has his standard uniform, but jump into a different comic book and everyone is changed accordingly to suit the look and feel of this new universe!

[singlepic id=280 w=320 h=240 float=left]The voice work is excellent as well and you can really tell a lot of love has been showered on the game by its creators and the audio in general is exceptional.  Without spoiling too much there are more songs in the game in the vein of “Everybody Loves Doughnuts” hidden around the game (cough, stats menus, cough) and they are of the usual Twisted Pixel high standard.

A rather complete package, Comic Jumper is a whopping 1.9GB in size including the usual achievements but also avatar awards, a free premium theme and even new levels for Splosion Man!  Obviously we are approaching the busy time for games right now, but at 1200 Microsoft Points, I urge you to find time for this game.  It’s personality and charm aren’t found in too many full retail games nowadays and this small team deserve recognition for their efforts.

Some developers manage one or two good IP’s and churn out sequel after sequel, Twisted Pixel have managed three original IP’s already and every single one is full of character and charm.  Comic Jumper is just great fun to play and some may find it a welcome relief from the barrage of more serious titles available out there.  Fun and at times laugh out loud funny, you should definitely check it out.

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