A superhero with a smiley for a head – why wouldn’t he be called Captain Smiley? And what is with the Starfish?
I must confess that I did not have very high expectations for Comic Jumper, the latest offering from Twisted Pixel, the guys behind The Maw and ‘Splosion Man. Going in completely clueless, I really did not know what to expect.
The game starts off with the player in control of Captain Smiley. Let me first explain Captain Smiley to you – He is the star of his own comic book, surprisingly called “The Adventures of Captain Smiley”, and is a muscle-bound hero type with a smiley face for a head and a smart ass starfish attached to his chest. It was at this point that I had to accept that this game is likely not going to make any sense.
So, I ran from left to right punching Dr.Winklemeyer’s henchmen out of the way (Dr.Winklemeyer is a crazy scientist who has decided to blow up the bank as revenge for bank charges…) Once outside of the bank, the action continues as I continued to run along shooting Bradbots (female robots – the creation of Brad, Captain Smileys egotistical arch nemesis) until I come to a showdown with Brad, in his helicopter contraption. The running then pauses for a single screen scene which involves shooting the hell out of Brad whilst avoiding his missiles. The it is back to Bradbot shooting and a scene involving falling from a building whilst shooting Bradbots that are hurtling towards you. This took on a different gameplay style in that the player had to maneuver a crosshair on the screen to shoot these falling enemies. Eventually, I got to the end of the chapter.
It should be noted that I died a fair few times during this first chapter. The gameplay is very frantic and the player will find themselves being assaulted from all sides by enemies. Not that I am making excuses, but the game is damn hard. Death results in being put back to a checkpoint, which is no problem, and the player has an infinite number of lives so there are no penalties for dying, thankfully.
In the main left to right running bits, the movement is controlled with the left stick and the direction of shooting with the right, meaning the player can fire behind them whilst running away. The player can also jump, slide and, in times of need, activate the “help me” power. This special power can only be unlocked in certain parts of the game, or bought from Dr.Winklemeyer, and will wipe out all of the enemies on the screen, in quite a funny manner. Basically, one of the Devs will appear on the screen and pound everything for you, in a hilarious fashion.
It is not until that first chapter is finished that the game really starts to hot up. Y’see, after the first chapter, players are treated to a real life cut scene that demonstrated how unhappy the readers are with Captain Smileys comic. So the comic is canceled. The only way for Captain Smiley to get his comic back is by hiring himself out as an extra of sorts, in other peoples comics – hence the title. With the help of gerda, his attractive assistant, the Captain must take on these jobs to earn enough cash to relaunch his comic.
In his main base of operations, the player can find his next job, which can take him to a variety of classic comic book settings. Also loitering around the base are the other stars from The Adventures of Captain Smiley, including Brad and his bradbots. Dr.Winklemeyer is on hand to provide the player with upgrades to Captain Smiley, all for a fee of course, and unlockable bonuses. There are even a couple of arcade machines offering demos of Twisted Pixel’s previous games.
As far as the presentation of the game goes, it really can’t be faulted. The main bulk of the game is finished in a cartoon style, crisp and colourful, with great voicework and sound effects. But within the various different comics that Captain Smiley travels to, a number of different graphical styles feature. Each of these are finished to the same level and work extremely well.
But the true star of the show is the humour. Many times during the game, I found myself laughing out loud. With the constant bickering between the Captain and the wise cracking starfish, and the bizarre things that can be seen in the background (such as the Devs and posters of Llamas) to the subtle digs at various popular media and the abundant use of stereotypes, the game really does have a laugh a minute, as long as you don’t mind a bit of cheese.
With varied gameplay, changing settings and humour that makes you want to keep on playing, there is very little negative about this game. Aside form the fact that you have to be a fan of shooters to really get the most out of it, the only fault I could find was the level of difficulty. Having to keep replaying certain areas as a result of constantly dying, can get a bit frustrating.
For 1200 MSPoints, you would hope to get a fair amount for your money. And that you do. There is plenty to see and do, and the main game will take a good while to complete. Comic Jumper is fun, entertaining and challenging. Did I mention it was fun?