Comic Jumper is what happens when a developer sets out to make a funny game, then forgets all about the game part.
A side-scrolling shooter in the vein of classic titles like Gunstar Heroes, Comic Jumper is a video game parody of comic books, as you journey through the pages of 70's fantasy, the Silver Age, manga and finally to the present day.
The kind of person who likes their games both old-school and a little tough, and/or thinks comedy found in material like American Dad is funny.
At nearly 2GB, Comic Jumper is one of the largest titles to ever grace Xbox Live Arcade. Plus, it's made by the guys who did indie hits Splosion Man and The Maw.
Is the game as funny as people say it is? No. Maybe it's because I'm not a young American male, I don't know, but I only laughed once, and that was at a power-up featuring a beard. The cast is almost entirely abrasive, in particular your "sidekick", who is one of the most annoying video game characters of all time. The potential inherent in parodying comic book genres also goes largely unfulfilled, with the developers relying on crude stereotypes and cheap gags when so much more could have been done with the idea.
This is a special attack. It is the best thing in the game.
Is the game hard? It's quite tough in spots. But not in a good way. Instead, it's tough because many checkpoints are placed unfairly, or even worse, because in many places the developers prioritised the look of a level over its practicality, so you'll miss a ledge or get hit by a bullet simply because you couldn't see it against a busy background. To compound this, you're berated every time you die. Which I'm sure sounded funny in the design stage, but halfway through the game just starts to piss you off.
Is it a long game? For a downloadable title, yeah, it's pretty long! It probably took me around six hours to finish. Problem is, I wish it had been over in half the time; it takes so many bullets to kill so many of the same type of bad guy over and over and over again that Comic Jumper quickly becomes tedious. Even the game's change-up levels, which throw some Space Harrier and Streets of Rage at you to give you a break from all that Gunstar Heroes, suffer the same fate. Many bosses repeat the same attacks and enemies still take too many bullets to bring down.
This is starting to sound like a truckload of suck, is there anything good about the game? While laughs are thin on the ground in the various pastiches of comic book genres, they are at least very easy on the eye, particularly the silver age and manga levels, the latter of which - while going overboard with the hentai and tentacle jokes - does include the neat touch of playing from right-to-left (as mangas are read) instead of the left-to-right found in the rest of the game.
Comic Jumper is a case of misplaced priorities. So much effort was put into the constant dialogue between characters, the gorgeous level art and attempts at humour every three steps you take that the actual game feels under-done. Once the humour wears off - and for me that was almost instantly - there's little left to hold your interest.
Comic Jumper was developed by Twisted Pixel for Xbox Live Arcade, released on October 6. Retails for USD$15. A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Completed the game.