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10 Worst Jumps In Video Games

Lists! We all love em, I love to make em; everyone wins. I have a new one in mind, which I will contextualize right now: I've been diversifying my playtime on the Nintendo Classic Mini lately, after breaking my face on Final Fantasy enough times. That volcano might be the worst dungeon I've ever seen. So, I've dipped into what else seems like a reasonable completion on the limited gadget. You can see every game on there and how they rank in my previous list.

I don't think I've ever rage quit a dungeon before
I don't think I've ever rage quit a dungeon before

I've played a bit of Contra and, with some effort, made it to the second stage, where they pull an Ikari Warriors. The thought of playing more Ikari Warriors makes me barf, so moving on. I played more Dr. Mario and don't really understand how the pill turning works. Tecmo Bowl: I still don't know what the hell is happening, but maybe one day. I then turned to Mega Man and was able to cross a barrier I've never crossed before: I killed a Mega Man boss and finished a stage. In all my years; I guess there's a first time for everything, still.

With a few of these games, your success rate really depends on how well you navigate the controls. Sure, Mega Man is hard, but a lot of it comes from being able to parse everything on screen and pressing the buttons at the exact right moment. The other half comes from what happens after that button press, as you do. It's playing the hand you're dealt. In this case, a big part of that hand is the jump button.

That got me thinking, which is a dangerous occurrence. When going back, what are some games that present you with an obstacle and expect you to jump? From that pile, what are the games that failed the most to give you the tools to success? Bunch of faff made short: What are the worst jumping systems in video games?

I'm going to keep the list unnumbered this time, mostly because Giant Bomb doesn't have an option to order it in reverse. Consider these, mentally, as going from least to most egregious, but don't fixate on that fact. I spent little time weighing the entries against each other.

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There are some loose guidelines to the list. For one, these will only mention games that at least have the expectation of quality. I'm sure you can find barely functional shovelware on Steam, but this isn't a race to the bottom. Secondly, that also means that a game like Clayfighter is ineligible. Yes, the jump sucks, but so does the entire rest of every part of that game. It's just a bad game; the jump follows the trend. If the game has no redeeming quality, then there's nothing egregious about the jump itself. Finally, a personal item, these are only the ones I remember as being memorably bad jumps. I've played hundreds of games in my life, but I wouldn't be able to tell you just how bad Mickey's Magical Quest's jump was. I remember it being poor, but I wouldn't be able to quantify it from memory. That's the cutoff line. I did a bunch of research, to look at gameplay from both stuff I remember and things I heard about, but at the end of the day, I haven't played every game in the world.

Feel free to sound off in the comments about your jump nemesis.

Here's the list!

List items

  • This is much more about raw game feel, but for a game that makes traversal its core element, it sure feels bad. I know the point of it is that the game is goofy, but bad design on purpose can still feel bad. And it does. Every jump feels like sand. If you don't pack every shred of hope into your mushy leap, you can bet that you will be left wanting and unsuccessful, in any part of that process, from takeoff to landing on your wobbly feet. The camera being your mortal enemy doesn't help. I like Fall Guys, the video game, but I also curse the movement almost every time I play.

  • A lot of games didn't make the cut because, while their jump is bad, their failing is more about level design. For Lion King, however, there are too many compounding factors. For one, a Disney game shouldn't be this difficult. Additionally, the weirdly vertical arc and bendy animation of the jump itself gives you borderline confusing information about where you're going. With that in your pocket, you need to make specifically accurate assessments of your environment. It's a task that feels nigh impossible, especially given that the pixels that start a precipice are often blended into the scenery. Good luck.

  • Now that I've gone back to Ghosts 'n Goblins, I've become reacquainted with its foibles. Again, half the fault is in level design, but still the jump also feels like it loses steam just a bit too much, making it hard to parse. Then, take into account that this is a fixed jump game and that projectiles might creep into that arc after you press the button. There are plenty of times where pressing the right button still results in death, taking you right back to the start of this grueling challenge. Later iterations adjust for this limited action with more thought, but the first game is absolutely brutal.

  • There hasn't been a monolithic property that has suffered as much from the transition of its two dimensional roots to 3D as Sonic. Any example works, because the tight gameplay and movement in a full 360 degree plane are rarely complementary. Particularly as, in every game, Sonic has way too much air control, making the jump feel incredibly loose. You could argue that Sonic 3D Blast was worse, when the design was in its infancy. Maybe Sonic Adventure could make the cut. However, the latter can still flow in some horizontal environments without a lousy jump. In Sonic Heroes, the jump is a primary reason why the game grinds to a halt, time and again, throughout its otherwise linear tubes of stages. There's nowhere else to go and still the jump gets in the way. That's a failure of enormous proportions. That said, I understand if you take your pick.

  • There's another debate to be had with Assassin's Creed. By modern game standards, the functionality of the major production's jump is sound. You click the thing and, after years of focus testing, the thing does what you tell it to do. Why this franchise makes the cut is because you rarely get the result you really want, partially by too much tweaking. At the slightest breeze of a press, you'll run up a wall, get stuck in an endless ledge grapple or suddenly veer 90 degrees to a nearby anchor point. At its worst, you simply leap to your death, inexplicably. The addition of trees made this even more confounding. This is a case of writing yourself into a corner.

  • Older games received a lot of leniency, since it takes time to codify even the simplest of game elements. Not even the first Super Mario Bros was the end point of this train. That said, some experimentation was just nonsensical. As a super simple game, this Smurf title has only the barest of obstacles, overcome by a little hop or a longer one. For some reason, to do the latter, you need to first go straight up and only then move forward. So, to jump once, you jump twice. It's an act so confusing that it has stuck with me to this day. It's like someone tried to recreate the double jump, but from the memory of a coworker explaining it across the hall at a water cooler.

  • Another obsolete jump that got some slack is the static leap from Prince of Persia, Another World or whoever you attribute this version to. Most games were able to pair this mechanism with their level design. Heart of Darkness doesn't just fail to do so, makes failure a brutal reset, but it also commits the aforementioned sin of obfuscation. The exaggerated cartoon style makes the jump look more energetic and malleable than its set state actually is. At the same time, most leaps have a ticking time bomb behind them. You don't want to jump in this game, because it will be a bad time, but you must, expeditiously.

  • I don't know why the teetering in Ice Climber's jump manifests itself in the way it does. Sometimes the jump feels straight, the other time it feels like silly putty. You can press the button a thousand times and it never feels like it will end the same. The game is all about jumping. That's not a great combination. At the same time, the stages push you further into a random direction, the ceilings push you back and down a hole you just created with previous jumps. If you refuse to create this self-inflicted hell, enemies will patch the holes, making you repeat the process. There is no escape here.

  • I cannot understand who designed Sora's jump. Why does it look like that? Who would jump like they just shit themselves? Why does it feel like you get no elevation? Why did they have so much platforming when this is the jump you give us? Why are so many of these platform sequences so precise, when it's clear that precision was not a concern in the base design? This might be the worst, specifically crafted jump in game development. This process could've been halted at any point, but it was made for the exact purpose of being terrible, all the way through.

  • The creators of Dark Souls have never played a game where you jump before. That's the only explanation I have for putting the jump button on an analog stick. Not just that, but if you manage to be precise with the loosest part of a controller, you'll be met by the limpest jump a person could make, barely lifting off the ground at all. Dark Souls is the wet fart of video game jumps. And just like a wet fart, if you misjudge it even a little, you'll be in deep shit. In this case, it's fumbling into a chasm, losing any progress. Why even create this, other than adding yet another miserable state of existence? In a game all about perfection, the jump is the furthest thing from this tenet.