Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley Xbox 360 Review
Publisher – Twisted Pixel Games – Developer – Twisted Pixel Games – Genre – Action – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 18+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A
Twisted Pixel are old hands at this XBLA lark. While their first title, The Maw, received brief acclaim, ‘Splosion Man became a real favourite with critics and customers alike. Its twist on the traditional 2D platforming style giving us quite a few late nights with its unique brand on puzzle solving platforming.
Their latest, Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley, continues the 2D action (although mock on-rails 3D sections do appear later on) but takes another new approach. Using the left stick to move Captain Smiley around, and the right to aim his guns, this certainly has a feel of a good old twin stick shooter. Things can, at times, become a little too convoluted with basic movement, aiming, platforming, and avoiding projectiles all required at once, but that’s more a case of gamer brain power struggling to hit top gear than any problems with the control system.
The game starts in a pretty bombastic manner, with lots of hectic action to sink your teeth into almost immediately. Unfortunately the gameplay twists do start to become few and far between as you progress, and there are a few instances where you’re seemingly fighting the same enemies in the same manner over and over again.
Luckily the ever changing visual style does an excellent job at keeping things fresh and exciting. The star of the show, Captain Smiley, has fallen on hard times. His comic book has bombed, and he’s forced to take on guest starring roles in order to pay the bills. This allows each level to look completely different to what’s preceeded it, and there are some absolutely superb pieces of visual design to witness as you progress through the games’ 11 levels.
And through it all there’s some fantastic banter ever flowing between Captain Smiley, and Star, the big yellow star splattered across Captain Smiley’s chest. Twisted Pixel have gone down the route of ‘breaking the forth wall’ and creating a story that’s very self aware. While they could have easily included too many in jokes that only hardcore fans of the developers would giggle at, they’ve actually created something that’s certainly going to induce a few titters. It’s not absolutely rip roaringly hilarious, but certainly a cut above what you’d expect from any video game.
The only real major minus point you could honestly use against Comic Jumper is the absolutely maddening difficulty spikes. At various points – even including the first few levels – the game will suddenly toss a wide variety of enemies that can happily soak up a mass of bullets before parting with life. And when these enemies are flooding from every corner of the screen, tossing almost unavoidable projectiles as they go, frustration can start to mount. Twisted Pixel have done an excellent job at making things a touch less irritating by frequent (though not signposted) checkpoints, but there will be sections where you’ll swear to the gods that it’s absolutely impossible to progress.
Longevity isn’t much of an issue here, despite what sounds initially like a small number of levels. Though there are only 11 in total, there’s also a multitude of challenges to take on to boost your cash reserves. This money can then be utilised to purchase all kinds of wild and wonderful stuff, including the usual sets of concept art, as well as theme’s, avatar awards, and even levels for other Twisted Pixel titles.
Comic Jumper may have its awkward moments thanks to a few horrible difficulty spikes, but it’s still a superb overall package. There’s enough depth there to keep you hooked for many a week, and plenty of opportunities to come back to bag better scores. If you can stomach almost getting to the point where you toss your controller through your TV, Comic Jumper comes highly recommended.