Review by sanhedrin

"Like Doom, but with kiddie/psychedelic graphics and lunar gravity. Ok, not like Doom at all."

First Person Shooters have never been as popular on consoles as they have been on the PC. Graphical sophistication aside, the things are just too hard to control without a keyboard and mouse. Using the mouse I can turn my head in Quake faster than I can turn my head in real life. But using, say, the Super Nintendo controller to move my whole body in Wolfenstein 3D is painfully slower than real life. The console answer to this problem is to make Third Person games like Tomb Raider. When the perspective is set outside of your character’s body, you can see beyond their normal field of vision, so that you don’t have to worry about not being able to see the cyber-demon wailing at you from 9 o’clock because you can’t turn around fast enough.

The Jumping Flash games for the Playstation go beyond the point-of-view limitations of First Person Shooters ingeniously: they let you jump twelve stories into the air whenever you want. You don’t have to worry about your turning speed and area of vision when you’re freefalling from 150 feet, right? Like the hot air balloon corps of the Civil War, you can gaze upon the battlefield from a bird’s eye view. And if you aim your descent properly you can smash through that cyber-demon’s head like a penny off the Empire State Building.

The only problem is that there are no cyber-demons in the Jumping Flash games. In fact, I don’t think there are any demons at all. And you know how much the kids these days love their demons. The levels and creatures in Jumping Flash are of the psychedelic circus variety. Everything’s just sort of happy and pastel, like a place you would actually take your kids to if they wanted to leap tall buildings in a single copyright violation. I’m sure this is why the series wasn’t the seller it could have been. If you like games that have heavy plots done in a serious style,
Jumping Flash 2 is not for you.

The big difference between Jumping Flash 1 and 2 is comically odd main bad guys. The baddy from 1 is an evil German scientist with a monocle and a Hawaiian shirt, like a bad caricature of one of those Nazi war criminals hiding out in Argentina. The guy from 2 looks like a giant blue Mushmouth from Fat Albert dressed for ballet practice. And he’s the scourge of the universe, folks. The graphics in Jumping Flash 2 are a good step above the first game, but still a far cry from any kind of modern game. Halo it ain't.
The real reason to pick JF2 over 1 is for the ballerina guy. I will never understand Japanese culture as long as I live.

Games that are heavy on the jumping tend to turn a lot of people off. It’s easy to get frustrated when Mario has got to make a huge jump and the block he’s standing on is about to fall and there’s a winged turtle hovering between him and his destination and the level is slowly moving to the right, etc. Makes you want to draw yourself a bath, plug in your Super Nintendo next to the hairdryer, and drop it into the tub. Game over! And think how awful it must be for Mario to fall off all those cliffs. Usually he’s resiliently stoic, but falling is so horrifying to him that he is able to propel himself, contrary to gravity, back up onto the screen, where his spread-eagled body and contorted grimace betray his agonizing terror. Thankfully, the jumping in Jumping Flash is more forgiving.

Somewhere back in prehistory there was a computer game called Alpha Waves that claimed to be able to alter your mood by playing it. Some of the levels in Jumping Flash 2 have a similar effect on me. Yeah, there’s weird creatures shooting at you, and yeah, there’s a time limit, but it seems so soothing and dreamlike to jump from building to bigger building to biggest building until you can freefall down from 300 feet up and land without a scratch. Any game that elicits an emotional response like that has got to be some kind of classic in my book.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/09/02, Updated 09/09/02


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