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Jump Gunners (PC) artwork

Jump Gunners (PC) review

"Almost jumps the gun"

Know it or not, youíve probably played a game thatís at least similar to Jump Gunners. It revolves around a simple premise; offer up a 2D map filled with platforms and bottomless pits, then pepper the entire area with a literal overkill of wildly assorted weaponry. Then go to town killing everyone you can find via unspeakable violence.

Games like ZP2KX and Duck Game follow the same kind of formula, but Jump Gunners offers a new twist; it dials up its weaponís recoil and then presents it as a viable way to fling yourself around the mapscape. By firing a torrent of bullets at the ground, you can launch yourself skyward and, by adjusting your scope of fire, you can turn your sidearm into an impromptu jet-pack of sorts. One still ploughing deadly artillery into the ground below you, likely to chew up anyone foolhardy enough to be plodding beneath. Itís a new definition of death from above.

Each of Jump Gunnersí assortment of weapons behave differently; equip a flamethrower and you have the closest thing to an actual jet-pack, while something like a rocket launcher provides a much more sudden and explosive bout of velocity. Other weapons like assault rifles, miniguns and sniper rifles, exist somewhere in between. With a little bit of practise, you can use these weapons to effortlessly guide yourself to higher roosts, or to zoom forwards and backwards into or away from targets. It invites chaos.

Get a few friends together, and playing a deathmatch is nothing short of insanity, consisting of little isolated moments of pure luck youíll swear blind you meant. Try to steer a column of bullets towards an airborne target and youíll sometimes fling yourself off the platform towards certain death, or accidently hurl yourself to safety as someone else pings a volley of rockets at you. You canít stay floating above the arena without consequence forever; taking shots at other players will send you wildly off course, as will trying to evade enemy pot shots. But taking to the air gives you certain advantages when compared to the lumbering pedestrians who choose to shuffle about on the ground. Itís just that stability isnít one of them.

But Ė and itís a big but Ė the vast majority of Jump Gunnersí appeal will evaporate unless your PC is configured to host local co-op players. Playing solo doesnít really work, especially in the deathmatch stakes. With no online options and no way to insert bots into your game, its single biggest draw is lost.

It does attempt to make up for this; there are options available for lonely players with no one to game with. There are twenty four missions available where youíre tasked to zip around various maps and shoot targets while a timer ticks down in the background. Some of these are as simple as locating floating platforms lurking above your starting point, and some of these are Meat Boy-esque death traps that assume youíll die multiple times, so let you respawn with your previous progress intact. These arenít bad additions by a long shot; trying to keep yourself floating above a spike pit by the grace of an assault rifle as you glide past the mutilated remains of failed attempts is a decent way to spend your time. But itís not what Jump Gunnersí main selling point is.

Itís telling the puzzle stages (as well as another decent add on, Turkey Hunt, a clear rip off homage to NES classic, Duck Hunt) only feature the assault rifle, because the rest of the weapons are saved for the frantic bedlam which is the multiplayer mode. The commendably responsive one-man developer has publically stated that online features arenít included for all the right reasons Ė he doesnít want them in his game unless he can be sure theyíre fully working features that complement the effort heís already ploughed in to his project. Online options remain a goal, but only if it can be correctly implemented. The ability to insert bots is being prototyped but will only be included if they can replicate human players to a decent degree. He doesnít want games filled with lags and disconnects. He doesnít want artificially bloated lobbies populated with shambolic easily-annihilated bots.

I hope heís able to meet those goals because, right now, Jump Gunners is an excellent foundation that could be built into a real surprise package. If you have the means to couch co-op and a few friends you donít mind falling out of contact with once they spam a few lucky rocket attacks and you vow never to talk to them again, itís a great addition to a multiplayer rotation. If not, watch this space. It might just evolve into something that devours your time.

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (January 07, 2018)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Masters posted January 07, 2018:

Nice job, dude. Typo in sentence TWO though. :P

Game looks okay too, but I won't likely have the opportunity to do local co-op with anyone and online seems a ways off, so I'll pass.
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honestgamer posted January 07, 2018:

In the last paragraph, when you say "coach co-op," do you mean "couch co-op," perchance?
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EmP posted January 07, 2018:

You don't keep your PC in the burnt-out coach that serves as your home? How do you get anything done?
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NerdRageStudios posted April 26, 2018:

Hey, its the developer here. I have taken on a lot of feedback from reviews like this, and from direct feedback from players at GDC and EGX. 1.4 is now released which aims to address concerns such as Bots, as new AI opponents are in, along with new game modes and an almost complete gameplay overhaul. If you would like to try out the new version, that would be awesome :)
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EmP posted April 28, 2018:

I'll certainly give it a look - the inclusion of bots will be a gamechanger -- great work!

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