Giant Bomb Review

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Comic Jumper Review

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Comic Jumper isn't a great game, but it's such a hilarious one that it's still worth seeing from start to finish.


 This is an unedited gameplay screenshot of Comic Jumper.
There are terrific things in Comic Jumper. It's astoundingly absurd and, at times, absolutely hilarious. It's a game that reaches Amped 3 levels of FMV-laced madness, and if you've seen the cutscenes and story in Amped 3, you know that this is not faint praise. But there's a catch in Twisted Pixel's latest Xbox Live Arcade release. Actually playing Comic Jumper can be something of a chore. It's ambitious in spots, with a lot of surface variety, but once you've seen its few tricks, the gameplay's repetitive nature really starts to grind against the great sense of humor.

The real premise behind Comic Jumper is fantastic. Faced with a poor performance in his own comic book, Captain Smiley--a bulky superhero with a smiley face for a head and a wise-cracked star named Star on his chest--finds himself canceled. In order to make ends meet and prove his worth for an eventual relaunch, he'll have to guest star in other comics to earn money for his comeback. Additionally, Twisted Pixel--that's the company that developed the game--buys the rights to Captain Smiley, making him an employee of the game's developer. This ends up leading to everything getting incredibly self-aware, with plenty of opportunities for the characters to directly reference the game's development and, as has become something of a Twisted Pixel trademark, a lot of terrific live-action video. It's almost as if the developer took the wildest parts of 'Splosion Man and The Maw and expanded it all into an entire game.

It's funny, the writing is strong, and it also has a great visual style. What starts out as a fairly generic modern comic look quickly gives way to three additional styles. The fantasy style '70s comic, Nanoc the Obliviator, has an appropriately desaturated look and lots of fur boots, evil birds, and... uh... golf balls. It makes sense in context. After three levels of that, you'll move onto a silver age style, where "invisible" ropes are clearly seen as dashed lines and a governing body attempts to maintain moral standards by fining you every time Star decides to swear. Things really go off the rails after that with a manga style, which, cleverly, has you moving from right to left instead of left to right. Smiley takes on a Cloud Strife sort of look in the manga style, and jokes are made about how the game's creators probably didn't bother to do much actual research into the source material before writing a bunch of easy, yet great material, all of which is well-delivered by a pretty seasoned voice cast.

The manga art style gets especially delirious. 
All of that good, fun comedy makes it a little easier to get past Comic Jumper's weakness: it isn't much fun to actually play. The action rotates through a few different basic concepts, but the majority of the game is a sort of dual-joystick platformer/shooter, where you use the right analog stick to aim at targets and can also jump or slide. The controls are mostly mapped to the triggers and bumpers, to make things easy to manipulate. But the action is very basic. Enemies fly or run onto the screen, you aim at them, they eventually blow up, you move on. Many of your foes soak up way too many bullets before falling, even if you've upgraded your attack power. Some of them shoot back, forcing you to jump or run out of the way, but that's about it. Occasionally the game will break into a Quick Time Event, a flying stage, an extremely dry melee system, or something reminiscent of Cabal or Panzer Dragoon, where you control an on-screen reticle to aim at enemies while also dodging incoming projectiles. The game is certainly ambitious, and it's cool that it manages to switch styles on the fly, but with no one type of gameplay feeling particularly exciting, it all seems a little academic. At times it can get challenging, but a lot of that is muted when you play the game as a slightly slower pace, so as long as you're upgrading your abilities frequently and aren't just blindly running into enemies, it's never impossible.

But middling gameplay isn't enough to stop Comic Jumper. While I found myself disappointed with portions of the game, the sense of humor and green-screen madness on display make Comic Jumper something much, much more than a basic platformer, and it's this aspect of the game that makes it relatively easy to recommend.     Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
73 Comments
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Edited by Wiseblood

Was expecting 3 stars after the podcast and quick look.

Posted by Newjack

Cool!

Posted by Woodtsunami

not first...

Posted by OverLord00

Niice.

Posted by MisterDunlap

About time.

Posted by Sil3n7

It has some cool art styles and it probably is funny but the gameplay looks lazily designed.

Posted by OneKillWonder_

Good review, though I was surprised you still gave this 4 stars. Either way, looking forward to buying this tomorrow. Still looks like a lot of fun to me.

Posted by Milkman

I'm going to play this video game. 

Posted by ColinWright

Woah, Comic Jumper is as good as Reach?  
 
 
Im just kidding btw, please don't rape me.

Posted by scarace360

HENTAI HIGH! I WANNA GO THERE!

Posted by cooljammer00

How is this not a 3 star game?

Posted by Lurkero

How can you give this game 4 stars after this line?:

 All of that good, fun comedy makes it a little easier to get past Comic Jumper's weakness: it isn't much fun to actually play.

After reading that line you immediately turned me off of this game. I know what type of humor you guys like (listening to the podcast weekly), and I doubt Comic Jumper would be my type of humor. If Twisted Pixel wanted to make a humorous cartoon, then yes, but a not fun to play game on top of a humorous cartoon, then no.
Posted by Yummylee

It does look to be hilarious, with the Manga comic being the high point for my giggle meter =P. Though knowing just how much of a chore it is to play, and with so many more games coming that I do want to enjoy playing, this'll be yet another downloadable pass.

Posted by Jolt92

I want to like this but man that looks boring as fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

The Maw, awesome. 'Splosion Man, boring. Now this seems like a step in the right direction, they have found their style, but man  shooting those same enemies for that long looks boring as shit. And I am pretty interested in comic books, I spend around 50$ a month on them and such, so this seems like it would really appeal to me. But dude, I don't know... We'll see, I will get Costume Quest and Super Meat Boy instead. Good luck in the future Twisted Pixel, I truly believe you can make a kick ass game.

Posted by Ratinho
@cooljammer00 said:

" How is this not a 3 star game? "

 SOMEONE HAS AN OPINION AND I DON'T LIKE IT!  Do your own review and give it 3 stars then?
 
Knew there'd be a few people crying about the score when i saw 4 stars. Even knew why there'd be bawling about it, what part they'd whine at, and why  it would get a high score, having seen the GB guys videos and how much they loved it even though it was a pretty average game for the most part. Yay me?
 
Sharing that sense of humour, this is a definite pick up for me later today. Much preferred the game play in the earlier QL though from a while back.
Posted by MooseyMcMan

I wish the game didn't cost so much. I'd get this in a heartbeat if it were $5, or maybe even for $10, but $15 seems too steep. 

Online
Posted by IkariNoTekken
@Milkman said:
" I'm going to play this video game.  "
Same, I've been excited for this since it was announced. Both QL's have shown me the humour and that alone is great but as someone who used to play a ton of brawlers back in the arcade, I am also  fine with repetitive gameplay. I'll be buying this immediately.
Posted by EgoCheck616

Would be nice if it came to either PC or PS3. 
Good day, sirs.

Posted by Cube

It's not a great game, and it's not fun to play, I'm not getting the 4 stars here. 
 
I don't even know what this game is but giving a game 4 stars when you blatantly say it's not actually fun is sort of wonky. 

Edited by bybeach

Okay Jeff, and all I remember was that you wanted to qualify what Vinny was saying in the bombast. Anyways..you were reviewing it. I'm getting the game, and will lay a loosing bet with myself that I will finish it. I still go back to s'xplosion man..but am basically stalled.
 
I saw the ql to Amped 3, and the game pissed me off. It seemed a game very much self aware, and not much else. But I want this game, I just do. I like this developer, and this, plus Costume party (my first Double-fine title), will get me there or close to that 800 X-box points. 
 
I need a good laugh, a bunch of them. And at least  ithis is mostly a shooter.
Posted by Branthog

I've never been impressed or enticed by this company's games. They all have this weird sort of cheap, sloppy, goofy feeling that doesn't compel me to buy or play them at all.

Posted by Skillface
@Lurkero:  He gave it 4 stars because he is RECOMMENDING the game. He is telling us to play it, despite it's flaws. If it was 3 stars, half of the community would look at it and say "I'm not buying it anymore."
 
Man, stars sure do suck.
Posted by jkz

Review scores clearly do nothing but good.

Posted by animateria

This seems like a more emotional 4 Stars than a real one.
 
Whatever that's supposed to mean...

Posted by cooljammer00
@Ratinho said:
" @cooljammer00 said:

" How is this not a 3 star game? "

 SOMEONE HAS AN OPINION AND I DON'T LIKE IT!  Do your own review and give it 3 stars then?  Knew there'd be a few people crying about the score when i saw 4 stars. Even knew why there'd be bawling about it, what part they'd whine at, and why  it would get a high score, having seen the GB guys videos and how much they loved it even though it was a pretty average game for the most part. Yay me?  Sharing that sense of humour, this is a definite pick up for me later today. Much preferred the game play in the earlier QL though from a while back. "
It was more the "it's not a great game" in the header, and the times they mention the game not being fun or looking good in the quick look.
Posted by ArbitraryWater

From the quick look, this game looks positively dull from a gameplay perspective. However, it also looks hilarious. Hmmm....

Posted by InfiniteGeass

The game looked really boring from the quick look. I'll probably try the trial, but I'm not so sure I'll buy it.

Posted by Nfinit_Vylence

Kinda weird that you guys killed this thing in the QL and wound up giving it the same review score as Case Zero or Guardian of Light.

Posted by kitsune_conundrum

the comments are on fire!

Posted by mcmets93

Will not even try this game out. I really hate button smashing games or games where you are just hitting the same buttons over and over again for combo attacks

Posted by George_Hukas

Boring gameplay is hilarious

Posted by sixghost

So basically youtube the funny parts in a couple weeks and save $15?

Posted by Diamond
@sixghost said:
" So basically youtube the funny parts in a couple weeks and save $15? "
That's the plan
Posted by skadbob

The premise and setup of the Captain Smiley character is enough to convince me to get this game.

Posted by BagSquad

really. really? 4 stars?

Posted by Undeadpool

It's good that the humor comes through, in that E3 preview it was looking REALLY fucking hit-or-miss. I'm glad it seems to have turned out more hit than miss.

Posted by radioactivez0r

How do you recommend a game that isn't fun? 

Posted by Lurkero
@Skillface said:
" @Lurkero:  He gave it 4 stars because he is RECOMMENDING the game. He is telling us to play it, despite it's flaws. If it was 3 stars, half of the community would look at it and say "I'm not buying it anymore."  Man, stars sure do suck. "
I dunno how you interpret the context, but recommending a game that you just told me isn't fun to play sounds very contradictory. What's the incentive if the game doesn't have good gameplay? A few jokes for $15? I get jokes on the Bombcast every week.
Posted by Brackynews
If you liked Comic Jumper
you might also like...
AMPED 3
Posted by MasterMind34

Surprisingly looks pretty funny.

Posted by bybeach

Once again I feel uncomfortable with the 5 star system in single whole increments. It may be Unrelenting in it's 'Fer or Agin' point system, but sometimes there's a reason to play the middle. , It prevents a tyranny of terminology defining a game that's better than the sum of it's components, some of which that may lack..
Posted by HydraHam

If it ever drops to around 400 points (on some sale) i will pick it up, it looks fun but not 1200/800 points fun.

Posted by JacDG

'Splosion Man was my favorite game last year, can't wait to get home and download this! Great review Jeff, this seems exactly like the experience I thought it would be. Gameplay looks okay, but the crazy style Twisted Pixel delivers in every game they put out, has made them one of my favorite developers. Exept for a little Halo: Reach, I'll be playing nothing but arcade games until Black Ops.

Posted by TwoOneFive

that was fucking hilarious in the quick look .. might have to buy this. 

Posted by Swarfigo

Super pumped. I loved the other two Twisted Pixel games that were on XBLA and this one looks great too. 

Posted by billyblaze

Just ignore the stars and watch the QL, which is way more insightful than a silly rating. It's hard to convey an opinion with "stars", hear? And since reviewing games is 250% subjective, you'll get more out of the QL. Or the review. Or whatever. But not from stupid stars which are only there because you nutfuckers nag every site that wants to drops them. Bite-sized pieces of information may be what you want, but not what you need to learn something about the game in question.  
 
 
Oops. Little rant. Hugs all around.

Posted by Mrskidders

Well, I didnt really enjoy playing through this but its good to know its on the same level as reach.  This reviewing is getting a bit out of hand to be honest.

Posted by EveretteScott
@Mrskidders said:
" This reviewing is getting a bit out of hand to be honest. "
 
Que?
Posted by EveretteScott
@Styl3s said:
" If it ever drops to around 400 points (on some sale) i will pick it up, it looks fun but not 1200/800 points fun. "
There's no way it will go down that much. 800 though, sure.
Posted by SuperSambo

Rather tempted... Especially as it is effectively 800 points with the new promotion.

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