Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley

What we liked:
+ Absolutely hilarious
+ Superb level designs
+ Fantastic voice acting
+ Excellent writing
What we didn't like:
- Some frustrating sections
- Giant dinosaur skeleton
Rating
9.0
DEVELOPER: Twisted Pixel   |   PUBLISHER: Twisted Pixel   |   RELEASE: 10/06/2010

Captain Smiley is my new favorite hero.

Comedy is one of the harder roads to traverse when it comes to gaming. Very few people manage to get it right, and even fewer manage to make it genuinely funny. Twisted Pixel’s latest game nails just about every aspect of the art by creating some truly hilarious dialogue and character interaction. Comic Jumper is one of the funniest games I have ever played, so much that I actually laughed out loud more than once during my play through. The team at Twisted Pixel have truly found their calling with their latest title, and I cannot recommend enough how much you need to play this game.

Comic Jumper follows the exploits of one Captain Smiley and his complaining cohort Star (literally the emblem on his chest) as they leave the comforts of their own comic, and take odd jobs starring in other stories. This opens up the game to three very different set pieces for the game, and opens huge doors for future DLC issues. One of the best things about this duo is their back-and-forth banter in each level. It is usually contextual having to do with the predicament at hand, but there are also a set of running gags that get funnier as you progress through the game.

It has been a long time since I actually wanted to tell people lines from a game, but there are so many hilarious blurbs in Comic Jumper it is hard not to. The idea that the duo is completely self-aware that they are in a videogame, and a comic book nonetheless, opens up a whole new can of worms. It was also nice to see developers Twisted Pixel poking fun at things such as not being able to jump in the hub room as it would assuredly break their camera system. It is the little touches such as these that really draw you into this game.

Comic Jumper is essentially a side-scrolling shooter that thinks it is a shoot ‘em up title. Literally I haven’t seen this much chaos and things flying at you onscreen since playing DeathSmiles earlier this year. This also means that if you are not used to this type of twitch gaming you will die…a lot. Who am I kidding, you will die a lot anyways and that is just how the game works. Checkpoints are pretty generous except during boss fights, and the death animation and dialogue definitely keep your anger in check. That is the beauty of Comic Jumper, no matter how much you get frustrated at it, you will be laughing and smiling again in just a few seconds.

Outside of the shooting the game also breaks up the monotony by throwing in some on-rails segments where you can move Smiley back and forth while aiming an onscreen reticule to take down enemies. These segments do slow down the otherwise chaotic pace and make for a nice diversion from constantly holding down the trigger button to shoot. There are also some minor melee combat sequences and of course the quintessential QTEs, but both of these make up such a small portion of the game you won’t even notice them. The one attack that has to be mentioned though is the screen-clearing bomb which has the Twisted Pixel’s staff punching the screen to defeat all enemies. Again it’s the little things like this that truly set this game apart from the herd.

With this said there are some glaring issues with the game that need to be mentioned. First off this is an unforgiving game. As I said you will die constantly, and mostly through no fault of your own. This is an extremely challenging game. Enemies are relentless and sometimes the screen fills up with so much that it is impossible to make it out alive. Also some of the enemy encounters are downright frustrating thanks to trial and error, yes I am looking at you giant dinosaur skeleton. Still as I mentioned no matter how angry the game makes you, you can’t help but play it with a perpetual smile on your face. The team really has done an amazing job of capturing hilarity in digital form.

One area that Comic Jumper truly excels are the visuals and sound. Each set of levels in the game uses a different theme based on the issue at hand. This also brings with it some truly unique level design and characters. The first level is based on a Conan-inspired layout, the second follows a more silver-age art style, while the third area goes all manga on you. Each one feels unique and is constructed with so much attention to detail you have to be in awe at the level of execution Twisted Pixel has achieved.

Sound is equally impressive with outstanding voice acting and pitch-perfect sound effects. Having each universe offer up their own hit sounds is really a lot more immersive than you might expect. I also have to mention that this game may have my favorite soundtrack of all time. Some of the work here is absolutely incredible and hilarious. The stats song had me humming the entire weekend while the level tracks are so perfect that they secretly get stuck in your head after powering down the game. Seriously I have to give major kudos to the sound design team. This game truly excels in this department.

Comic Jumper is definitely the game that should put Twisted Pixel on the map. Their first two efforts were tremendous games, but nothing compared to what they have crafted with this masterpiece. I literally could not stop playing the first time I booted up the game, and I talked to every single NPC just to experience all of the hilarious dialogue. I can’t remember a time I have done that, ever. This is seriously one hilarious game that everyone should get a kick out of. Sure it has issues, but you will be laughing so hard most of the time you likely will forget about them before they truly frustrate you.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Ken McKown

Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.