Comic Jumper Review

Comic Jumper (Available only on Xbox Live Arcade)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1
Genre: Shooter
Publisher: Twisted Pixel
Developer: Twisted Pixel
Release Date: October 6th, 2010

Parent Talk: Comic Jumper would very likely offend with its insulting, misogynistic portions.  Do be on the lookout for the second part of the adventure, titled ‘the Silver Age’.  You’ve been warned. Now onto the fun!

COE’s Steven is convinced that DeathSpank is the most hilarious and value-driven Arcade game.  Well, Comic Jumper is my personal DeathSpank! Hands down, this is the Xbox Live Arcade game you should download this fall.

The Great:

Incredible dialogue. There are two protagonists, Captain Smiley and Star, the latter literally being a star plastered on Captain Smiley’s chest. Ironically, Star can’t stand the so-called Superhero, and constantly harasses him about everything and exploiting his goofy attitude. One example is when the two stumble upon a character reaching into its pocket. Star screams, “He’s got a gun!”. Before you know it, Smiley shoots the innocent bystander who was never packing heat. After that, Star gloats, “I can’t believe you killed an innocent person! You’re sick. You need help, man,” putting all the blame on poor Smiley. Now…imagine this chemistry throughout the entire game. It’s hysterical, but also mostly potty-mouthed. If that’s not your cup of tea, then Comic Jumper isn’t for you.  (Ah, who am I kidding? You’re already downloading it, aren’t you?)

The Good:

+ Humor. The awesome dialogue, and everything else outside/in-between is funny.  Smiley glances at his stats, a song plays out to the vocals, “Sit back and enjoy these stats”. Every facet of Comic Jumper is packed with little touches that go far in making this a rip-roaring experience. Mark my words, you will laugh.

+ Presentation. Imagine reading a crappy comic book. That’s where our dynamic duo unfortunately reside. Their label has been canceled due to poor sales.  Like any intelligent superhero, Captain Smiley and his allies sell themselves to other comics in order to acquire the cash to reboot their series. Examples include a Conan ripoff titled Nanoc, the late fifties/early sixties for the Silver Age, and finally…a manga. With each new universe, their appearances and equipment change to match the setting. It feels like you’re playing four different games, no word of a lie. No matter which you jump into, the attention to detail is terrific. From the little hearts that fly out of your gun in the manga to the authentic pastel colors of the Silver Age, Comic Jumper definitely delivers on all fronts.

+ Gameplay variety. Hand-to-hand fights, basic platforming, all-out shooting, flying sequences, first-person areas and more.  There’s so much to experience, and it all manages to fit perfectly…a pleasant surprise.

+ Old-school challenge. You may very well curse at the screen as I’ve done on several occasions.   Comic Jumper isn’t as tough as classics like Gunstar Heroes and Contra, but its gameplay similarities makes it close.

+ Nice length, just what the doctor ordered. I know some may have a problem with such short length in exchange for 1200 Microsoft Points, but it felt just right due to CJ’s AAA-caliber experience. I’ve had so much fun that I finished it in one sitting, purchasing all the bonus items/character upgrades and unlocking ten out of twelve achievements.  You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll return whenever friends are over, as they’ll also eat up the dialogue like nobody’s business.

The Bad:

– Unlocking bonus items. Boy…does this get boring after a while! The hub contains an upgrade/item shop. The former includes stats such as damage modifiers and health boosts, while the latter consists of content like avatar goodies and documentary videos. However, I didn’t like having to purchase each individually.  You may not think much of that at first, but hearing the vendor repeat a joke three times with each purchase (147 times!) is annoying!

The Ugly:

Black and white. AHH, my eyes! Remember when I said the visuals are awesome? Sadly, that statement doesn’t include include the manga part. While it’s solid in terms of art style and level design, it’s a killer to be in plain black and white.  It was tough to distinguish between the bullets flying at me, the background, and my character.

The Lowdown:

On our staff boards we’ve been talking about modifying our review format because we’re not totally pleased with its current objectives. We’re sticking with the basic concepts for evaluating digital releases such as this, but the point is that we typically give our games glowing reviews.  Why?  We don’t willingly invest in games that are mediocre or poor in quality. After all, COE isn’t a hotshot site with a big budget at its disposal. Lately, even games we’ve received from publishers are just as awesome as our personal purchases, Comic Jumper included. Any game that pokes fun at its own developers is an ace in my book.

I leave you with this exchange between Captain Smiley and Star, as they walk into a room and see Twisted Pixel’s hit, The Maw:

“Oh the Maw, I loved that game!”, the Captain exclaims.

Star replies, “Yeah, but they totally ripped you off with the DLC, which should have been included in the game in the first place.”

And because of lines like that, I wholeheartedly advise all to download this bad boy right this second.

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