Review: ARKEDO SERIES – 01 JUMP!
When it was announced that Sanuk Games was bringing over the ARKEDO series of indie games from XBLA to PSN, I got pretty excited. I don’t own an Xbox360, so I often miss out on little gems that release on the Live Arcade. The first game released in the ARKEDO series was JUMP!, a platformer drenched in retro gravy. The graphics are blocky, the music is chiptune, and the objective is simple. One title card lays out the entire story. A giant iron crab appeared and dropped bombs everywhere it went. It’s up to you, JumpBoy, to collect the bombs. Jump from platform to platform collecting bombs before they explode. 8-bit crabs, skeletons, bats, and flaming jets get in the way of you completing your quest.
There are 30 levels in the adventure mode. It took me a few hours of straight play to get through them all. Part of me wishes there were more levels to JUMP through, but at such a low price I can’t complain. The game costs about as much as a candy bar and will keep your attention for a lot longer than a Snickers would. It looks and sounds better, too. All of the objects in the game have animation loops that repeat every couple of seconds. Foreground grass waves back and forth, crabs pinch and wave their pincers in the air, coins rotate and glimmer, etc. The whole package looks simple and old-school, which is right on the mark for what it’s trying to be. Remember that this is a full PSN title, not a minis, so everything looks crisp and HD-ified. The music tracks are catchy and switch up every 10 levels or so in order to keep from sounding stale.
JUMP! also has a pretty good sense of humor. The levels are humorously named (“Ghouls without Ghosts”, “Snake, Snaaaaaake”, “Army of Crabness”), and even the pause menu asks you to “plz wash your hands”. As funny as some of the levels were, a couple were a bit too telling. There’s one level that’s named “Trust the Coins” where you can’t see the bottom part of the level, only a line of coins. If you trust the coins, you won’t fall into a pit of spikes. It’s not that big of a deal, as any gamer would have intuitively trusted the coins anyways, but I didn’t think it was necessary for the game to hold my hand by the time I got to that level. Another thing that bothered me is the utter lack of pause menu options. In the sense that this is a retro game, I guess it succeeds in limiting what you can do in-game, but there isn’t even an option to quit the game when you press start. The only way to get back to the title screen is to kill off your remaining lives or quit the game from the XMB and start it back up. When you get a Game Over, there’s a line of text that reads “wish there were continues in retro games”.
All in all, JUMP! is a welcome walk down memory lane, with all of the looks, sounds, and challenges that retro games had to offer. After beating all 30 levels, you unlock a level select mode that allows you to play through each level with the intent of collecting all coins, diamonds, hearts, etc. If you complete each level in this manner, you unlock level 31, the “uberhard robots’ stage”. It took me about an hour of intense play to beat level 31, so it’s rather aptly named. I got that “one more go” type of addiction that pushed me into the early hours of the morning before finally completing it. Afterwards, it definitely felt worth it. I’m delighted that Sanuk Games is publishing this series for such a low price. If SCEA continues to fight them off, I recommend making a European account and purchasing JUMP! If you’re anything like me (who loves a solid 2D platformer), you’ll find JUMP! to be right up your alley. Pro tip: Press X to jump.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Retro graphics
- Retro music
- Level of difficulty is just right
What I Dislike:
- A bit short
- No in-game options