|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Twisted Pixel||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 6, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Steve Haske
Youve got to be at least a little bit jealous of Twisted Pixels COO Josh Bear. Never mind the fact that the up-and-coming indie studio has already seen two solid XBLA titles in The Maw and Splosion Man. Forget that Comic Jumper only adds to the companys impressive pedigree. How cool would it be to see a character you created as a kid become the star of its own property?
This is exactly the case with Captain Smiley, who Bear came up in seventh grade. Right off the bat that makes Comic Jumper a true labor of love, which is evident both in the games quality and relatively slick production values (for an indie) as much as it is in Smiley and the various cast of ridiculous characters that populate his universe with him. Theres Smileys sidekick, an eponymous, sarcastic, and selfish star thats attached to Smileys chest; Gerda, Smileys personal assistant, whom the yellow-faced hero leaves in the lurch during adventures within his own comic; and Brad, the dude-brah villain with a sororitys worth of sexy female henchbots, and whom Star has a raging, uhm, star-crush on. Out of the whole games cast, in fact, there are only a couple characters who may grate on your nerves (particularly the increasingly obnoxious Dr. Winklemeyer, who talks like a cross between a stereotypical nerd and a caveman), and the writing here is as unique as it is, often, laugh-out-loud funny.
And for good reason, too; the basic premise for Comic Jumper is silly enough in its own right. Essentially, after screwing up one too many times in his own comic, Captain Smileys readership plummets, and now destitute, he is forced to take guest starring roles in other comics to raise enough cash to re-launch his solo comic. Aside from the plot, a lot of laughs come from Smiley and Stars bickeringthe two dont really like each other that much, and often find each other at odds with what the other wants, especially when Stars fawning over Brad, or either characters lusting after women, gets in the way. The duos past, which were only allowed to speculate on, also makes for great one-off jokes; Smiley can even punch Star on the rare occasion his chest-residing sidekick decides to bite him. The entertainment value of these two alone may be worth the price of admission for some.
Twisted Pixel plays a pretty big comedic role in the game themselves. After the first level, we see people in the real world throwing down or destroying Smileys comic in exaggerated disgust, so the fourth wall is almost instantly broken down. Shortly thereafter, Gerda arranges a business agreement with Twisted Pixel themselves, who agree to lend a hand with Smileys dire financial situation, providing a comic jumper that lets the embattled, smiley-faced hero take guest roles in other comics. Every so often you can even talk to Twisted Pixel from Smileys low-rent warehouse base via a large screen next to the titular jumping machine (or have the dev team save you using a kill-everything power-up during a level), and while its little more than a humorous distraction, just the fact that they decided to put it in is funny enough on its own.