Usually when you download a demo from XBox Live Arcade, you’re able to earn at least one Achievement – then you’re asked if you’d like to buy the full version so you can keep that Achievement.
Comic Jumper is no different. What is different is that this time I shelled out for the full version. This wasn’t because I so desperately wanted to keep my Achievement by rewarding blackmail, but because I was actually enjoying myself and wanted to keep playing. I know, it should have been about the Achievement, but I guess I’m just “different”.
Comic Jumper follows the “adventures” of Captain Smiley and his sidek … erm … chestkick … chestpiece … friend/enemy/something, Star. Captain Smiley’s readership has disappeared and his comic cancelled. Some company called Twisted Pixels give Captain Smiley a chance to get his Comic back. He’ll start doing bit parts in other comics, in the hope of earning enough, and gaining enough readers, that he can get his own comic back.
Twisted Pixels furnish him with a “base” and from here he can upgrade abilities, buy Bonuses, admire his achievements, and jump into other comics. Each comic has its own style, though the basic gameplay is the same in each one.
The default playstyle is essentially a side scrolling 2D in a 3D world beat-em-up/shoot-um-up fighter. Captain Smiley changes between using melee attacks and guns depending on the situation.
I say “default playstyle”, because Twisted Pixels enjoy mixing up the styles a little. There’s also a “pseudo-on-rails” style where Captain Smiley runs (or drives) by himself, though you have limited movement across the screen, and you shoot or jump as the level progresses. While I’m tossing around the word “pseudo” I’ll also mention the “pseudo-quick-time-event” style. While it seems to be the standard “flash a button up on screen” type, the button stays up for quite some time, and it even appears in the relevant portion of the screen to give you even more hints (‘Y’ appears at the top of the screen, ‘B’ to the right and so on). It’s really more a lazy, relaxed section between the other, more frantic, sections.
You’ve probably already guessed that this is a game that doesn’t take itself seriously. I don’t think there are any comic targets it doesn’t let loose on. It’s not just that it mocks the comic world, but it mocks the video game world too. Tere’s also some wonderful humour in the interactions between Captain Smiley and Star, and between them and the various villains. I had quite a few “wry grin” moments, a few “wide grin” moments, and quite a few “chuckle” through to “glare from a housemate” moments as well.
It’s not all sunshine, though, as there are a few annoyances as well. The main one, I find, is that the character must complete their current animation sequence (say, swinging a sword) before they can begin the next. This means that often you simply can’t get out of the way of an enemy in time. This leads to trying to learn the patterns and sequences (especially in boss fights), and that is just frustrating to me. The other major issue is how far it is between “checkpoints”. While I don’t expect to keep all the progress I’ve made, It does get frustrating to be thrown back past a long, hard sequence.
Really, Comic Jumper dances that thin line between “just one more go” frustration and “throw the #$@%& controller across the room” frustration. So far the former is winning, but the latter is hovering far too close for my liking.
Still, that aside, I’m still playing it, still enjoying it, and still wanting to see what comes next, so I guess I like it!