So, I know I usually lump one or two Xbox Live games together in these articles and make a huge production about it or something, but time is short and I sort of forgot to eat today. So, to save us all some time we’ll just touch on the best downloadable game I’ve played lately. I have been pumped for Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley ever since me and Elrood plowed through the exceptionally difficult Splosion Man a few months back. Twisted Pixel has proven itself to be a rare sort of video game company, the kind that has humor forefront in their minds, and those searching for a serious plot can go eff off.
Comic Jumper follows the adventures of Captain Smiley, a failed comic book super hero whose half-assed heroics have pissed off his fan base for the last time. This isn’t the end of everyone’s most hated hero, however, as the game company Twisted Pixel has stepped forward to front the bill for a new base, some unlockable upgrades, and most importantly, a car-like creation that rockets Smiley into other comic books.
Yes, that’s right. Twisted Pixel. Anyone who played Splosion Man to its inevitable conclusion (and I really wonder just how many people had that kind of patience) knows that Twisted Pixel has a fondness for throwing clips of real life in with their games. In his base, Captain Smiley can talk with people working at Twisted Pixel, see what they’re doing around the studio, and unlock video interviews with several members of the cast. The game is very, very self-aware, to the point where characters will comment on the camera angles if you try to jump in an area of the game where jumping is not allowed, or shoot in an area in the game where your guns are prohibited.
So, together with his sidekick, a surly wise cracking star stuck to his chest, his intel girl Gerda, and a slew of bizarre and seemingly ineffectual super villains, Captain Smiley must raise money to resurrect his series by providing cameos in other established series. Along the way he’ll have to deal with the general insanity of his supporting staff, including Professor Winklemeyer, who may or may not be more crazy than evil, the lame plots of the Puttmaster, and go head to head with renowned cool guy and arch nemesis Brad.
Combat is pretty basic if you’ve played 2D games in the past. There are about four basic methods of combat in Captain Smiley’s repertoire, and he switches between them with varying levels of ease. There’s the token “beat ’em up” sections, where you have only two different forms of attack, there’s the “guns blazing” sections where you dash from one end of the stage to another murdering everything in your path with the best of Contra characters, and there are two forced locomotion areas that play very differently. In one, Captain Smiley is riding on something and must alternately shoot and dodge items coming his way. In another, the camera pans behind Smiley, giving you a movable target. It’s up to you to dodge items as Smiley runs along, while continuously shooting at the baddies who show up to wreck your day.
This should be a good point to throw this in here. Comic Jumper is a difficult game. You will die a lot. A LOT. If you’ve played Splosion Man and enjoyed it, this shouldn’t be much of a problem for you. But even the most seasoned gamers will have a hard time making it through levels unscathed. Some of the things they throw at you go past the realm of difficult into the realm of complete and utter bullshit, so keep that in mind.
Here’s where I can tell you’ve paused, hand thoughtfully stroking your chin as you try to decide if Comic Jumper is actually a good or bad game. “Sure thing, Tophat,” you’re muttering to yourself. “That’s all well and good, but is it worth my money?”
The answer to that lies directly on your own preferences. Comic Jumper is a fantastically hilarious game, filled with witty banter between Smiley and Star, creepy dialogue between Star and Brad, not to mention throwbacks to comic books from all sorts of genres. During the course of his adventure, Smiley will visit a barbarian, silver age, manga, and his own style of comic book, which switches up the scenery a bit, if not the action. The art is different in each book, scene transitions are shown by turning pages, and if you’ve had any love of comic books during your life you should check it out.
The characters are where the game really shine. From the racist and sexist characters in the silver age universe to the over the top emotional characters in the manga comics, there’s always something for Smiley and Star to freak out about. The writing in this game is fantastic, there are tons of unlockable items and upgrades for Smiley, and plenty to keep you playing for a long time.
That being said, the actual combat sections of this game are like watered down versions of every other 2D game you’ve ever played. At least Contra had other kinds of weapons, for crying out loud, and most beat-em-ups have at least a strong and weak attack. Some of the forced locomotion levels hang on a little too long and have a tendency to get really old fast, especially when you’re dying three or four times before you realize the enemies patterns.
I did, however, really enjoy the other forced locomotion combat sessions, but even then there were some problems. Nothing major, just some problems the game has determining how long it takes things from the background to actually reach you. But since you should be avoiding everything in the game anyway, if you get hit by something you should have been faster anyway.
Despite its flaws, Comic Jumper is totally worth the money you can put down on it. The game itself is a bit on the short side, but I think if Twisted Pixel added another genre there, it would have quickly worn out the game’s welcome. And hey, as far as downloadable games go, this is one of the best put together games you can probably find.
Oh, and a tip? Punch Star. Punch him right in his big fat liar mouth. No really, you’ll get an achievement for it.
Filed under: Games | Tagged: 2D games, Barbarians, Brad, Captain Smiley, comic books, Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley, Dr. Winklemeyer, Gerda, manga, Mistress Ropes, Puttmaster, Silver Age comics, Splosion Man, Star, tophat, Twisted Pixel, upgrades, XBLA, Xbox Live Arcade |