Review – Comic Jumper: The Adventures Of Captain Smiley

Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley
Developer: Twisted Pixel Games
Publishers: Twisted Pixel Games, Microsoft Game Studios
Platform: Xbox 360 (XBLA)
Genre: Side Scrolling Beat em Up
Release Date: Out Now

Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley, or just Comic Jumper if you’d like, is the third game from Twisted Pixel, the guys behind Xbox Live Arcade titles The Maw and ‘Splosion Man. Both games were very well received, but will Comic Jumper follow on in their footsteps? Hit the jump to find out in our full review!

Comic Jumper stars the quite fittingly named Captain Smiley and his sidekick Star (who is somehow attached to Smiley’s chest) as they do whatever heroes do. After things take a turn for the worst in his newest comic, Captain Smiley finds himself being cancelled. With the help of the Twisted Pixel devs breaking the 4th wall, Captain Smiley and Star  jump into the worlds of other comics to raise enough money to re-launch their own series. It’s a rather amusing plot and the involvement of the Twisted Pixel staff makes it humorous.

If you’re looking for a game that will make you smile, then Comic Jumper should be  right up your alley. There are so many laugh out loud moments throughout the game, enough for me to lose count. The cheap jokes and puns will steal a laugh from you and you’ll love every second. The jokes vary throughout, ranging from the typical “your face!” comebacks to over exaggerated censoring and surprisingly, some sexist jokes too. If you have a sense of humour then you’ll appreciate the effort the game puts into it. Comic Jumper is littered with references here and there, and it’s quite fun trying to recognize them. But enough of the jokes for now, gameplay time.

Levels involve you playing in a 2.5D environment as you run and gun your way through several obstacles. On several occasions, you’ll be tossed into a different style of gameplay, most often an on-rails shooting section. At other times you’ll be dealing with melee combat and the odd quick-time event section every now and then. It’s a nice break up of gameplay but I can’t help but feel cheated a bit. I was hoping for much more combat based gameplay, but 80% of the game is gunning. It works well and it’s fun but a bit more of the other gameplay sections would have been better.

During stages, you will be given an opportunity to earn bonus money by completing a specific section without taking damage, or fulfilling the requirements. While these aren’t required to finish the level, it’s nice to challenge yourself and see if you can finish the task. Trust me when I say, it’s not easy. One little slip up and you can kiss goodbye to that money bonus. Comic Jumper is a very difficult game, despite the fact you can’t get a game over. The more you progress through the game, the more unforgiving it becomes. Don’t be surprised if you have to replay a section multiple times, we’ve all been there.

As well as comic jumping, pun intended, you have the option to partake in challenges similar to the ones you receive during levels. Successfully finishing the challenge will award you big money, with a little extra depending on your finishing time. Even if you fail the challenge, you are still awarded a little bit of money, so it all totals up. Game proving too hard and you want to practise up on your skills? Well you have a way now! It’s as rewarding as it is frustrating.

Captain Smiley visits several different comic dimensions throughout the game, each transforming his overall looks to fit in with the comic. You’ll be visiting Nanoc The Obliviator, a pre-historic fantasy world, Improbably Paper Pals, the silver-age comic with one too many censors and lastly, Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids, a Shoujo manga filled with magic, fairies and rainbow unicorns. Each comic features its own specific trait in terms of style and humour, including its own specific running gag. There’s just no way to avoid the fact that Comic Jumper is a very funny game, it’s everywhere!

When you’re not swinging through levels shooting everything you see, you’ll be wasting time in the main base, where you can interact with the cast and trigger some amusing conversations. What I found amusing was the inclusion of arcade machines in the base. When you interact with them, you are given the option to either download the demo or purchase the full games of The Maw and ‘Splosion Man. Nice bit of subtle advertising there guys!

With the money you earn from levels and challenges, you can purchase upgrades for Captain Smiley and bonus extras. For the good captain, you can upgrade his health, damage output and more. It doesn’t come cheap though, you’ll really need to work hard to power him up. The bonus content ranges from character art and sound clips to interview videos and Xbox content. With your in-game money, you can buy gamerpictures, a premium theme and addition levels for Twisted Pixel’s previous title, ‘Splosion Man! How nice of them, free DLC.

Comic Jumper is fun as an impulse buy, but it really isn’t the kind of game you can go back to. You’ll enjoy the first experience but there isn’t much to keep you coming back for more. If you’re a fan of side scrolling games with stupidly hard difficulty then Comic Jumper is your friend. As much as I love what Twisted Pixel have done with Comic Jumper, including the fact they inserted themselves into the game, the game just feels lacking in places. A co-op mode would have been a nice touch, bit of a missed opportunity there. It’s a nice game but it just doesn’t feel worth that 1200MSP price tag. Sorry guys.

Final Score – 8/10

A fun title with some hilarious scripting and jokes. Lacking in content outside of the main game and will only run you a few hours. Not worth the price tag that comes with it.

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