Twisted Pixel rarely disappoints. Those familiar with games like The Maw and Splosion Man will know that Twisted Pixel is a top notch developer when it comes to XBLA games. Their latest game is called Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley. With a title like that, you’d be foolish to not at least check out the demo. After all, the demo is what sold me on the game.
Captain Smiley is a fully self-aware comic book hero who has recently fallen on some tough times. His redearship is faltering and his public image just isn’t what it used to be. When his comic book gets cancelled, it is up to Captain Smiley to earn some cash so he can relaunch his comics. How does he do this? Simple, by jumping into other comics and helping out their characters.
In classic side scrolling style, Captain Smiley runs, jumps and shoots his way through the various styled comic books as Twisted Pixel fills the game with never ending and truly funny humor. Twisted Pixel throws in some funny film references, witty social commentary and even pokes fun at themselves during the game. The dialogue, especially the scenes between Smiley and the talking star on his chest, is a pleasure to listen to and will evoke much laughter, even from the most serious of gamers.
The gameplay is simple and easy enough to learn. The majority of levels will have you running from one side of the screen to another. As you do so, you’ll be tasked with shooting or using melee combat to clear the enemies in your way. You also have the ability to jump and slide which both will come in handy when trying to avoid projectiles.
A couple of sections do change up the gameplay and these sections appear often enough to keep things fresh and exciting. Various sections will have quick time events, on rails shooting and other types of gameplay to break up the side scrolling flow.
Like Spolosion Man, this game is no walk in the park. It may seem simple, but to succeed you’ll have to exercise caution when playing. Sometimes there is just so much going on that it seems near impossible to escape unscathed. There are checkpoints so even if you die you’re never sent too far back. It should be noted though that if you turn off your XBOX or quit out in the middle of a level you will have to restart it. Luckily, none of the levels are too long and while it’s annoying at first, you will eventually learn to just clear out levels in one sitting.
I’ll be honest though, when you first start out, you will die and you will die a lot. Without any upgrades, you’ll have a tough time getting through the first few parts of the game. It is recommended that you play the challenge mode for a bit first until you earn enough money to buy some upgrades.
If I had to level a complaint at the game it would be that certain sections do feel a bit monotonous. The first level of the game shows off quite a few styles of gameplay and it always feels exciting. This momentum doesn’t exist throughout though. During some levels, after you’ve done the same thing over and over, and fought the same enemies over and over, you’re itching to get to a new level or experience a new style of gameplay. Luckily, none of the levels are that long and each one is visually exciting which helps with the repetition. The visuals in the game change with every level and they really are superb. They’re exciting to look at and they boast a very appealing style.
On the audio front the game is equally as impressive. All the characters are a joy to interact with as the voice acting for just about everyone is great. Some of the characters are a bit over the top but it’s still very funny watching them interact with each other and seeing the story play out. Also on the audio front, there is a great soundtrack with some original songs that are seriously laugh out loud funny.
In addition to the main story line which spans 11 levels, we get a challenge mode where you can earn money and have a bit of fun and with the money you’ve made. You can buy upgrades to level up Smiley as well as bonus items like themes, videos, audio clips, concept art etc. These bonus items also give you money multipliers so when you play through levels and challenges, if you’ve collected a lot of bonus items, you’ll receive more money.
To sum it up, Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley is a pretty solid effort and yet another impressive offering from Twisted Pixel. While it may be a bit too hardcore for some and while it may bring back severe Mega Man memories for others, its light tone and well written humor will keep you coming back even after you’ve had to retry a section one too many times. It offers enough originality and charm to entice even the most jaded of gamers and if you can deal with the at times ‘hardcore’ gameplay, you’ll find one of the better XBLA games of 2010.
Comic Jumper: The Adventures Of Captain Smiley boasts great visuals, strong writing and gameplay that is easy to get the hang of, making for a very enjoyable XBLA title.