GAME NAME: Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley
DEVELOPER(S): Twisted Pixel Games
PUBLISHER(S): Twisted Pixel Games and Microsoft Game Studios
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360
Games based on comic books are seldom great, so trust renegade indie kid Twisted Pixel to avoid this problem by making a playable comic book instead. Comic Jumper is not the developer’s best game thus far – that honour still belongs to 2009’s sublime ‘Splosion Man – but it is the most ambitious and polished title, sporting unbelievable production values that perfectly complement robust gameplay.
Captain Smiley is a has-been comic book hero who agrees to be a substitute protagonist for other comic books, all in an effort to re-establish his popularity. Each of the four comic book realms crafted by Twisted Pixel is excellent, marked by superb attention to detail and impeccable visual style that makes the game seem like animated comic pages, replete with each “BOOM!” and “BANG!”
Serving as both parody and homage, it expertly draws upon the qualities of each comic style (the exceedingly weird manga section is a particular treat). Consistently crisp and genuinely funny writing help out quite a bit, as does the spot-on voice acting.
Comic Jumper mostly plays like an old-school side-scrolling shooter – think Contra or Gunstar Heroes. As can be expected with such influences, it presents a stiff, frantic challenge that some might find irksome. The combat can also get regrettably repetitive, although creative boss battles and occasional on-rails sections help alleviate recurrence. Countless bonuses to unlock add lasting value to the game and help to ensure that your time with Captain Smiley will always plaster a smile on your face.