Comic Jumper Review

So does anyone want to clue me in as to when download-only console games became more than just expensive filler? Games like Shadow Complex, Limbo and Shatter have proven to me that disc-less experiences can be just as amazing as ones I've got to drive to the store to get. But when did this change actually happen? Was there one game that did it, or was it a gradual process? I may never get an answer I agree with 100 percent, but the age of great downloaded games is here. And Twisted Pixel's side-scrolling action/shooter Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley is just the latest in a line of impressive titles that you won't find at any retail store.

Comic Jumper tells the tale of a down-on-his-luck super hero and the obnoxious, hilarious star that lives on his chest, seemingly only for the purpose of delivering one-liners. Anyway, the duo are they a duo if they share a body? are tossed into various comic book-style worlds where they must battle from point A to point B. Its not very inspiring stuff, but the game's sense of humor makes the meh story one you'll want to play through.

I've often said nothing is worse than a game that tries to be funny and fails, which is too often the case. Comic Jumper stays mostly out of that hornet's nest by being consistently, genuinely funny and entertaining. The exception to the nod-and-wink humor is a certain Asian stereotype, I mean character, that makes The Phantom Menace's Nute Gunray look tame. I'm not usually so sensitive to this stuff, but the character in question stops just short of giant front teeth, squinty eyes and an "Ah-so." Luckily, this is the only aspect of the game's plot and humor that doesn't consistently entertain.

The gameplay almost cashes the check that the jokes write. Almost. You'll spend your time doing one of three things: Side-scrolling blasting, side-scrolling brawling and on-rails shooting. The brawling and on-rails segments work quite well and contain some genuine challenge. The side-scrolling gun combat, which makes up the majority of the gameplay, doesn't fare quite as well. The main issue is hit detection. If an enemy manages to run right into you, you'll take damage. No biggie, right? Wrong. An enemy that has collided with you disappears into a phantom zone slightly behind your character, which prevents your bullets from doing any damage. So basically, the enemies become unkillable until you can manage to get far enough away from them to get off a few shots. Its tough to explain and doesn't sound that bad when read aloud, but one or two deaths from this will frustrate most players to no end.

And speaking of frustrating, unless you are used to the twitch shooters and brawlers of yesteryear, Comic Jumper is going to kick your ass. Period. There are no health pickups, checkpoints are scarce and tough-as-nails bosses will almost certainly kill you. I had a lot of fun with the higher challenge level, but the previously mentioned hit detection problems kept me from enjoying things to their fullest.

Really, Comic Jumper is a very, very fun game. It has a sprinkling of problems and can be amazingly difficult, but the humor carries it past these beefs. And Chris Sabat, the voice of Piccolo and Vegeta in the U.S. dubs of Dragon Ball Z, plays the role of the star on Captain Smiley's chest. So how bad could it be?

Final Rating: 79%.


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