Monday, September 21, 2009

PS1 Look - Jumping Flash! 2

I think the reason I never got around to playing Jumping Flash! 2 before was due to my fear of heights. It's so bad I get woozy just standing on a step-ladder. This fear extends to 3D videogames which makes it troublesome for me to get through quite a few of them(mainly platformers for obvious reasons). Surprisingly despite the concept and the level design I found myself not at all troubled by heights. In fact I was able to really push myself to make the game more challenging by trying new things.

The concept is very simple. As a Robbit the player must explore 11 massive levels to find four Muu Muus and then reach the exit. What makes this title unique is that everything is handled from a first-person perspective and Robbit is capable of performing three very high jumps in a row. As expected there's a lot of platforms of both the moving and non-moving variety to land on. To mix things up a plethora of enemies and power-ups await robbit. There's also quite a few bosses to contend with though for the most part they go down very easily.

First-person and platforming isn't my kind of thing. To help make it work the game offers a lot of visual feedback. Upon jumping a bar at the side of the screen gauges the player's ability to perform a second and third jump. After the second jump Robbit will automatically look downwards to show the player what's below them. This is especially handy for landing on tiny platforms and bouncing off of enemies. All of this is helped even further by the jumping & falling speed of Robbit. Though it gains some momentum if it falls for awhile it's still slow enough for the player to react accordingly. Even though I didn't so much as flip through the manual I was able to effectively pick up the game as soon as I started the first stage. 

In order to make a game like this work confidence in the level design, controls, and mechanics is required. JP!2 excels at all three by establishing the basics early on so when new objects are introduced they are sensible and give enough room for the player to react accordingly. Thanks to the open-nature of the levels the player can use all manner of short-cuts in order to accomplish goals more quickly. Aside from tilted platforms(which cause Robbit to slide off) and the possibility of nearby enemies there's always enough time to decide where to go next and it's very easy to recover if a mistake is made. 

Course on that same note it might also make the game a bit too easy. There's an additional mode that changes around Muu Muu locations and makes a few aspects of the game more challenging but otherwise there's only so much content to go around. On the bright side this game is at the right length to make it worthwhile for getting high scores and better times. What's also interesting is the inclusion of achievements. By accomplishing certain tasks the player can eventually unlock a mode which allows Robbit to jump six times in a row. These achievements can be simple like beating the game or they can be more complicated like "destroy 1 of every enemy in the game" or "find all of the Muu Muus in order"(since each one holds up a letter that spells EXIT). I find it funny that there are 12 of these achievements, which is the average number of an Xbox Live Arcade title.

In the end like many other games I've talked about on this blog, the future of Jumping Flash! isn't pretty. For one this game isn't even available on Sony's Playstation Network(the first game is though which is just odd). Aside from that the developer behind the game is probably no more or has moved on to something else. I'm not sure why it has to be this way since Sony could easily put together a new game. It could be on the Playstation 3 or even the PSP, feature level creation and sharing, and I don't know a deathmatch mode or something. 

While there are tons of 3D platformers out there I believe JP!2 stands well and above many of them. Even without the unique concept this game understands the importance of a solid foundation and makes for a game that's easy to pick up despite the perspective and abundance of tiny platforms. It also helps that the game is at a reasonable length for players who wish to beat their high-scores or simply test out new ways of getting around. 

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