Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Comic Jumper

Comic Jumper is the game that we've all been waiting for since 'Splosion Man. Ever since The Maw, Twisted Pixel have been on the radar, and the success of the aforementioned 'Splosion Man just cemented their position as a triple-A XBLA developer. Does Comic Jumper help them to defend their title? Short answer, yes. Long answer...

Comic Jumper is the 2.5D platformer which tells the story of Captain Smiley and Star, a crappy hero with a talking star attached to his chest. He is the star of his own comic book, which would be great if the readers didn't hate him. His comic is cancelled due to poor sales, but a mysterious company called Twisted Pixel come to the rescue. They have invented a ship which will allow Captain Smiley to jump to other comics, and being a guest star for 3 issues. By doing this, he makes money to restart his own comic.

The first comic you play in is Captain Smiley's own, before it gets cancelled. Basically an extended tutorial level, it gives you a taste of what to expect throughout the game and introduces the main enemies and more importantly, Captain Smiley and Star. The relationship between the two is not a good one, resulting in hilarious consequences and arguments. There are some amazing lines said by each and every character, and the script is clearly well written, unusual for an XBLA game. The best character is by far Star. He has a major attitude problem. He is chauvinistic, rude, and clearly needs to go to anger management classes. Captain Smiley always has good intentions but always manages to make sure people hate him. Whether by killing innocent villagers or destroying a museum, he never really does the right thing.

The first comic that you guest star in is Nanoc the Obliverator. Set in stone age times, Smiley gets an awesome costume which includes a horned helmet and a dead big cat as a cape. His look changes in every level, and as well as the savage look, he also rocks out a cute manga style and a cel shaded 70s version of himself. Each of the three main comics have distinctive styles, so the game always feels fresh in that department.

The main criticism I have with the game is the repetition. If you look past the graphics, every level is basically the same. They all have the same things to do, ranging from melée sections, to vehicle sections, to 3D sections, with the odd bit of climbing. Whilst that is quite a few things to do, it needed more to keep the player interested. Once you have played one level, you have pretty much played them all. The most interesting levels are unfortunately the first and last. They have the best pace and enough action to keep you hooked, especially the final level which just doesn't hold back at all, and also has a cameo from a previous Twisted Pixel game. I assure you, you will be surprised.

There are a vast amount of unlockables on this game, all in classic Twisted Pixel style. These range from fake interviews with the cast, to models of the characters, to full Captain Smiley comics. To unlock the extras, you buy them with money earned in-game. There really are a lot, and it's nice to see that the devs have taken a lot of time to include these in the game. So many games have no extras but Twisted Pixel deliver, every single time. One of the coolest extras that you can buy is DLC for 'Splosion Man. You can tell they care about their loyal fans when they reward them like this, and other developers should definitely think about doing the same.

Another awesome thing about Comic Jumper is that it's jam packed with references to other games and films. For example, in one of the Nanoc levels, keen eyes games will spot one of the 'Splosion Man cakes in the background. Also take notice of the scrolling text in the base above the desk. It definitely provided chuckles.

There is no doubt that this was always going to be good. The guys at Twisted Pixel just get better and better, each game outdoing the last. They never let their humour and wit falter, incorporating it into fantastic game design, and it is clear that they care about the games they make. Their storytelling skills have without a doubt improved, but the gameplay is too repetitive and needs more variation.

Even though this is the case, Comic Jumper should not be missed. Twisted Pixel have an ability to create games that you will love, with the best humour, wit and characters that anyone could ask for. If you love 'Splosion Man and The Maw, buy this. If not, try the demo and you'll still probably buy it.

8/10

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