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Comic Jumper (Xbox 360) artwork

Comic Jumper (Xbox 360) review


"Captain Smiley is a pretty lousy hero, as the first stage humorously illustrates. His sidekick (a star named "Star" that seems grafted to his chest) hates him, while idolizing arch-nemesis Brad, a "too cool for you" dude who's a good fist-pump away from being part of the Jersey Shore cast. Smiley, so named because his head freakishly resembles an emoticon, starts the game on an adventure that places him in opposition to Brad, his army of sexy female robots and a mad scientist who seems mentally handicapped. Not exactly a murderer's row of super-villains — a sentiment that Smiley seems to share, as the bad guys wind up getting away while "our hero" gets in a prolonged argument with Star over how horrible this particular adventure was."



With Comic Jumper, Twisted Pixel has created a feel-good, heart-warming tale of a beloved hero who falls upon hard times, but due to his generous, helpful nature is able to get back on the right path to the delight of all.

Or not. Captain Smiley is a pretty lousy hero, as the first stage humorously illustrates. His sidekick (a star named "Star" that seems grafted to his chest) hates him, while idolizing arch-nemesis Brad, a "too cool for you" dude who's a good fist-pump away from being part of the Jersey Shore cast. Smiley, so named because his head freakishly resembles an emoticon, starts the game on an adventure that places him in opposition to Brad, his army of sexy female robots and a mad scientist who seems mentally handicapped. Not exactly a murderer's row of super-villains -- a sentiment that Smiley seems to share, as the bad guys wind up getting away while "our hero" gets in a prolonged argument with Star over how horrible this particular adventure was.

Unfortunately, fans of the comic share that opinion and Captain Smiley finds his series cancelled. Fortunately for the Captain (and company, including now-unemployed villains Brad and the "special" scientist), Twisted Pixel, for whatever reason, is supplying a base for a very special purpose: to get Smiley back on his feet by allowing him to guest star in other comic franchises. Hilarity ensued until the frenetic action caused my thumb to fall off my hand. A great time!

Comic Jumper is to classic shooters like Contra and Robotron 2084 what Twisted Pixel's previous game, 'Splosion Man, was to retro platformers -- a fun and challenging re-imagining where the frequent checkpoints are more a godsend than a way to dumb down the difficulty. It can be a battle of attrition just to make it from one checkpoint to the next, especially as you get farther into the game.

Captain Smiley will go through a Conan rip-off, followed by a Silver Age comic, some manga and finally back to his own adventures, this time with a bigger budget. Each comic style has a different look and feel, even if you're doing the same sorts of things in each one. At times, you'll be engaged in side-scrolling shooting in the style of Contra; later, the screen will freely scroll as you move around blasting enemies while using the right stick to aim your gun. A few simple brawling segments are thrown in, with the reward for success being the ability to summon the game's developers to wipe out all enemies on a given screen. Each level also contains a handful of challenges that tend to be of the "get from here to there without taking damage" variety. Accomplishing them adds to your money earned, which can be spent on upgrades for Smiley and a slew of collectables that ranges from concept art to all of the game's music to exclusives such as a pair of bonus levels for 'Splosion Man.

You'll want to purchase these things, too. Each collectable adds a certain percentage of cash to your take from each level, eventually making it a breeze to purchase even the most expensive upgrades. A certain early-game level which I was good enough at to obtain around $7-8 grand suddenly became a money-maker that provided well over $40,000. When you're bringing in that kind of bank, Smiley can easily max out his abilities to the point where he can hold his own in the game's tougher levels.

The challenging action makes Comic Jumper more than a worthwhile title, but it's the offbeat and often hilarious comedy that makes it great. The game just overflows with personality and quirkiness. The first thing Smiley does when entering the realm of Nanoc (the Conan rip-off) is inadvertently kill a native. This becomes a running gag culminating in Smiley also destroying the poor chap's funeral while delivering beat-downs to the vengeful mourners. The Silver Age comic is an hilarious satire of sexism and racial stereotyping, while the manga adventure is a pure acid trip featuring things like Smiley shooting down smoke monsters while riding a pony past bizarre landscapes...and then singing a comically mindless song (that never will leave your head) to send the animal to heaven after it perishes.

Having multiple comic styles is of great benefit to Comic Jumper, as it keeps things feeling fresh. Each world has a completely different art style with Smiley's appearance being altered to fit in with his location. While there isn't a huge amount of variety in what you do, as you'll be spending large chunks of each level frenetically blasting anything in sight, I tended to have a great time gradually working my way through levels and taking out bosses with monstrous hit point totals (don't be intimidated; Smiley's blasters can whittle away thousands of hit points in no time at all) with my only real complaint being that backgrounds could occasionally get in the way and make seeing what's going on a bit tricky.

Those boss fights were among the game's highlights, as they tended to have wide variety of attack patterns for players to memorize. When fighting feminist activist (and therefore, villain in the Silver Age) Mistress Ropes, she'll fling asteroids, force you to jump ropes coming at you, maneuver around other ropes boxing you in and dodge ones being flung at you -- while attempting to use the right analog stick to keep a steady stream of fire directed her way. After I got proficient enough in reading her attacks to get a head start in dodging them, she wasn't THAT difficult. Until that moment arrived, I'd died many times from blundering into one of her ropes too many times.

Much like 'Splosion Man, Comic Jumper is a simple game to get into, but an addictive and rewarding one. It does the job of bringing me back to my gaming roots, while modernizing the experience to make it more accessible for the gamer of today. Adding checkpoints and loading the game with hilarious dialogue is the perfect formula to keep players hooked. Throwing in what feels like a million goodies to unlock only adds to the experience. After getting through Comic Jumper was first instinct was to play it again, which I will...as soon as I can remove the ice packs from my thumbs. They aren't used to the sort of workout this game provided!

Rating: 10/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (October 07, 2010)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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CoarseDragon posted October 08, 2010:

Good job on that review. You did a good job of detailing things. Sounds like a pretty fun game.

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