The 2D platformer genre is one of the most common among indie games. And lo-fi graphics seem to be all the rage these days, So why should you play Jumpman?
Because Jumpman brings the platformer back to life in a beautiful way and then hammers a few more nails into the coffin. Despite the familiarity, Andrew McClure has created a game to which all platformers following should be compared. Jumpman not only feels like something new, but it raises the bar for inventiveness so high that you will be left wondering what more can be done with the genre. If you are a game designer, it’s a damn tough act to follow, and every bit as important as a study of the genre as Super Mario Galaxy. If you’re not a game designer, this is a crazy inventive and mind-bending game which may just make you feel like a kid again, in a good way.
Many of the best independent games have deconstructed familiar genres in order to build them up again into something entirely (or at least mostly) new. Although VVVVVV and Braid do this by completely stripping off basic mechanics, the ability to jump (VVVVVV) or the threat of death (Braid). Jumpman is a fresh experience, even with all of the standard platformer mechanics present. Much of this freshness is due to a blatant disregard for the conventional platformer feel. A game designer’s inner voice begs “Tighten these controls down. Make this level easier. Hard does not equal fun,” but Andrew McClure does a rare and wonderful thing in Jumpman, he shuts up and actually listens to the game.
So yes, the game plays like you are on ice, and yes, it’s certainly not a cakewalk, but it’s these seemingly frustrating aspects of the game that make it truly special and beautiful. If Katamari Damacy didn’t control like a forklift, do you think it would have been so successful? So I beg of you, don’t give up when you die for the 50th time on a level. Persevere.
I will warn you, Jumpman is deceptively long. Several times, you will think, “I thought it would end here.” So, please have the time to play all the way through to the end. I guarantee the final stages of this game will stay with you forever.
Overall: I’m done with these number ratings…