NOTE: I love all three of the games in the Arkedo Series, but since I've already written a review for Arkedo Series 03 - PIXEL!, I won't be including it in my 30 days of indie reviews.
Arkedo Series - 01 JUMP!
The Arkedo Series consists of three of my favorite games on the entire marketplace. Arkedo has a way of creating incredibly fun, genuinely humorous, and delightfully retro games. Jump is a 2D side-scrolling platformer, similar to Pitfall. Beginning with the invasion of Iron Crab, it's up to Jumboy to rectify this by platforming through 30 stages. In addition to platforming, there are a variety of other unique gameplay twists, such as bomb collection, treasure, and even bonus levels; all three are relatively uncommon for an indie game.
Consisting of 30 levels that must be completed in a single sitting (as with all truly retro games), Jump is truly amazing for a game that was created in only 35 days by two people. The game's core mechanic is bomb collection; each level has a set amount of bombs that need to be collected in order to open up that level's doors. Each level presents new challenges, such as bombs that are "locked" until a certain amount of treasure has been picked up, weaponry, increasingly difficult enemies, and more complicated obstacles (disappearing blocks, activation switches, etc). This gives Jump an incredible amount of variety, and subsequent playthroughs (that are required in order to unlock a bonus level) are still enjoyable.
In order to create a good platformer, one of the most important things to have is a good control of the character (in order to perform more difficult jumps, or dodge complex obstacles). This is one thing that Jump completely and totally nails. The control is responsive and tight; you will never find a moment where you can blame a death on the game or loose controls. Jumpboy only moves when told, he doesn't slide, there's no need to compensate for mid-air jumps (aerial control is just as precise), which is fantastic for a game of Jump's stature.
A staple of Arkedo's games, Jump is chock full of good-natured, charming humor. The game will encourage you if you die, telling you to "here, have a cookie" or to "blame it on the controller." The story, despite remaining bizarre (as with all retro games), also has its moments in the opening and closing scenes. This just really complements Jump's colorful graphics and blithe music, creating a very stylistic environment.
While the game isn't incredibly long, Jump is a very professionally made game. The faux-retro stylized graphics and sound effects (along with the humor) all come together to form an exciting, unique, and truly fun game. Considering the fact that Jump was made in a month by two people, and costs only 240 Microsoft points, this game comes very highly recommended. Jump is just a game that is a joy to play (which can't be said about a lot of games), and I know that I will be coming back to it from time to time to just experience it again.