Platform hell awaits.
Japanese developer Cave are well known amongst a certain type of gamer for their “bullet hell” shooters which present the player with a screen full of projectiles and enemies and the aim is not to survive, but to die as few times as possible. Within hardcore gaming circles, these type of games present a very real challenge and places on the leaderboards are occupied by incredibly skillful gamers.
But it seems that Cave wish to spread their particular type of “hell” to other genres and have released Nin2-Jump as one of the first examples of this. the game is a very simple-looking platformer that has the player collect a number of scrolls around a level before heading to the exit. Each of the levels are small and quick, with players ideally aiming to complete them in less than a minute. The faster the player finishes the level, the higher the chance of getting onto the games leaderboards. With some 50 levels in the main game, players of a reasonable skill could complete the game in under an hour. But completing the game is not really the point…
As with other Cave games, it is all about getting a better score than others. The player is graded on how quickly they complete a given level and completing the level in a decent time will take practice. Firstly the player has to learn how to finish the level successfully, when facing off against all manner of enemies and spiky traps. the player can take damage three times and then will have to start the level again from the beginning. If the player takes too long to finish a level, they will be chased and eventually killed by some kind of evil spirit.
Secondly, the player will have to learn how to use the abilities that they unlock as they progress in the game, such as the grapple hook. Every 10 levels, the player will come across a boss battle which has more in common with the classic “bullet hell” games and will see the player trying to learn the bosses weakness in order to defeat it.
Alongside the main adventure mode is score attack mode that sees the player try to survive for as long as possible whilst scoring as highly as they can. But the main adventure is where all of the action is, and the game will encourage players that are so inclined to go back and keep playing over and over to improve their skills and shave milliseconds from their times.
The fact that all of this is done with an incredibly artistic visual style is impressive. The visuals take the form of a puppet theatre with the player a silhouette against a colourful background. The characters on screen all appear to be manipulated by an unseen puppet master with sticks being used to move them around the screen. To further emphasise the puppet theatre feel, at the bottom of the screen the player will be able to see the shadows of the shows youthful, and slightly excitable audience.
Although being rather short in length, Nin2-Jump represents great value for money at 400 MSPoints,if you are the type of player that will attempt to master the game. Those who don’t have that competitive streak may still get some enjoyment from the quick, frantic gameplay and the visual style is certainly a joy to behold. But the game will be over far too quickly if you are not inclined to go back and replay the levels.