What do you get when you take comic books and turn them completely on their head? Other than complete hilarity, you get Comic Jumper, Twisted Pixel's (TP) brand new downloadable title. The question of the hour is simple: does the game live up to the hype that it's been pushing? The short answer, is yes.
Comic Shooter follows the story of Captain Smiley and his sidekick Star, a talking medallion on Smiley's chest. The Captain was the hero of his own comic series before the series went downhill and readership plummeted causing his publisher to drop him. The only way that Smiley can get his own comic franchise back is by acting as a hired hand in other comic series. Twisted Pixel builds Smiley and his team a lair that allows the Captain to warp to other comics. Throughout his travels, he comes into contact with a barbarian tribe that worships a miniature golf course, a 1900s feminist robbing a museum and attacking Smiley with Geisha's and ventriloquist dummies, and a world of manga with hearts, teddy bears and girls who fart tornados. With the help of Gerda, Smiley's female secretary, The Captain work's his way through 12 different levels.
The gameplay is both fun and entertaining, but a little glitchy here and there. The biggest hurdle that players will have to deal with is the physics engine when controlling The Captain; his run cycle looks like he should be running faster and his jumping can be a little difficult to handle in tight situations. Those complaints aside, the game plays extremely well. Smiley's guns are fun to wield while running and jumping, the platforming is enjoyable and varied, and the brawler sections are funny and entertaining. The game constantly changes the playstyle; at one moment it's simple platforming, then it moves to a rail shooter, over to a shoot 'em up and then a brawler. In no way does the game take itself seriously. Members of the Twisted Pixel design team make appearances throughout, (live action footage) including being part of a great "weapon" that, when activated, calls the Twisted Pixel team onto the screen to wipe out all enemies located there.
There are some RPG elements that were a nice touch, but they didn't seem to make a tremendous difference and felt a little tacked on. Players can upgrade their guns, health, and fighting abilities with the cash that they earn from the comics that Smiley visits. In addition to the powerups, the unlockable content that TP allows players to attain is incredible. There are hundreds of different things to buy with The Captain's cash: concept art, models of the characters, video interviews, music from the game, a new level for those who purchased Splosion Man, and much more. Twisted Pixel added a bonus to buying these extra items: each piece that's purchased adds a percentage increase to what Smiley earns for each contract that he fills. After buying all the misc pieces, players can earn a 325 percent bonus on any and every level; obtaining money becomes exceedingly simple after a short period. The idea is to buy now and earn a LOT more later.
The game lasts about 5-6 hours if players play it straight through. But, in addition to the main story mode, there are challenges; mini games based off the main levels with specific requirements. Completing all of them in addition to going after the achievements can take the player 10-15 hours. Unfortunately, there is no multiplayer or co-op, but that's a fairly minimal complaint and players level scores are posted on a public leaderboard.
The presentation in Comic Jumper is what seems to be the most impressive. From the visuals and art style to the music and sound and over to the writing and voice acting, the game brings it hard! The character models are very polished and play into the comic book genre well. Join that with the smoothly rendered and detailed backgrounds and Comic Jumper makes an impressive visual presentation. Since every comic has a different period/style, Smiley and Star change their appearances to match the style of the comic they're in and each one is just as creative as the next. The fusion of live action footage with animation was a bold choice. It looked a little goofy at times, but it worked well and added to the humor overall.
The music is fantastic; as with the scenery, it changes with each level and matches the tone of the comic that Smiley is exploring. Some have the classic superhero sound while others have the very intense orchestral score. Then they swap things up with some nice jazz and end it with classic manga songs. If that weren't enough, some of the characters have their own theme songs as well as there being a catchy song about the statistics that Smiley achieves.
The voice acting and writing are absolutely top notch. The characters are all fun and dynamic and the banter between Star and Smiley is beyond priceless. The game makes sure that they player will never take it too seriously. They poke fun at Star Trek, banks, women's rights, Japanese culture, Schwarzenegger, and the stereotypical frat boy, not to mention all of the inside jokes that Twisted Pixel decided to throw in there. Even with all that, that's just the tip of the iceberg! Each level is filled with great dialogue that is sure to have the player rolling on the floor more than once.
All downloadable developers out there should listen closely: this is how a downloadable title is supposed to play. An engaging and fun story, enjoyable and creative gameplay, good visuals, excellent sound and amazing dialogue makes this an incredible experience. Players will find themselves dropping more time into Comic Jumper than they thought they would. The challenges add a lot of extra gameplay that's challenging but not excessive. Comic Jumper is a game that should certainly not be missed - don't let it pass you by.