Twisted Pixel is undoubtedly one of the more high profile independent studios developing for Xbox Live. Having released games such as The Maw and Splosion Man, Comic Jumper looked like a very promising title from afar. The unique style and humor offered to you in Comic Jumper is more than enough to intrigue any gamer.
The question is though, is the gameplay as high quality as the aesthetic, or does it fall short in the most important of areas? I’ll save you the suspense: put simply, this is the most disappointed I’ve been in an extremely hyped Xbox Live title since Limbo.
The story behind Comic Jumper is simple: Captain Smiley is a second rate superhero and is offering his services to work his way back up to his own comic book. While the story isn’t what would interest most, it is the humor and the banter in this title that shines. It has been a long time since I’ve laughed out loud at a game, so it is extremely refreshing to experience that once again.
However, the humor and the art style of Comic Jumper is all it has going for it. It is nowhere near enough to forgive the outrageously repetitive and at times frustrating gameplay. The question for you is, whether you can forgive the gameplay for the unique elements it provides. I can’t.
At its core, Comic Jumper is a side-scrolling twin stick shooter and, at times, a simplistic brawler. If you were to play just the first level, or even the demo, the gameplay during that time is as much as you’re going to get. Each and every level is a rehashed version of previous levels and is one of the most repetitive games I have ever experienced.
Each stage provides the chance to win money, which is then spent on upgrades or unlockables. However, the majority of the money in each level can only be obtained by completing reader challenges. All of the reader challenges are nothing more than completing a small section of the level without being hit. Sounds easy, right? Think again. The fraction of time spent in these reader challenges are full of cheap tactics as you are continually limited by the poor controls and the uninspiring “strength by numbers” difficulty.
As you make your way through each mission and reader challenge, you will immediately notice a pattern in the level design, AI, and the small variety provided. Each level is nothing more than a small dose of brawler, a large dose of side-scrolling twin stick shooter, and a small dose of vehicle combat. From beginning to end, in the middle of each level, you will have that feeling that you’ve played this level before. This is where the repetition I spoke of earlier sinks in enough to frustrate anyone.
Boss fights are another area of frustration in Comic Jumper. Again, it is nothing more than cheap tactics and wait and react combat. In all honesty, it is worse than the boss fights in Shank — something I never thought possible.
Finally, the last area of frustration for me was in the user interface — there is none. While having a dedicated area of the screen for a health bar is a use of important screen space, to not have one is a mistake. It worked in games that made it less intrusive — for example, Dead Space. But to have someone yelling at you every time you lose 25% of your health is some of the dumbest design I have ever seen. The two or three voiceovers provided for losing this amount of health quickly becomes yet another reason for you to want to throw your controller at the screen.
One thing that can’t be denied though is that Comic Jumper provides a ton of content here and maybe enough to warrant the desire to replay levels if leaderboards are enough to entice you. However, the things you can spend money on aren’t really that great. Leveling up Captain Smiley’s attributes don’t prove to be useful when a majority of the money you can win is by not getting hit in a fraction of a level during reader challenges. Therefore, you are left with unlockables which really aren’t worth the time.
Overall, Comic Jumper is filled with brilliant humor and writing, horrendous design, and repetitive gameplay. I have no doubt in my mind I will never revisit this game and I urge others to seriously evaluate what this game has to offer. If the humor and art style are enough to overshadow the many downfalls of this game, then have at it. Otherwise stay as far away from this title as you can.
The humor and art style is this title's only strength.
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Comic Jumper features some of the most uninspired, repetitive gameplay I have ever been exposed to.
Mediocre voiceover work and subpar soundtrack plague this game.
While there is a good amount of content and leaderboards, the desire to replay missions and challenges will vary by player.
Comic Jumper fails to overshadow poor, repetitive gameplay with its humor and art style.