Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley is the third Xbox Live Arcade outing for independent developer Twisted Pixel Games. If you don’t know them by name than surely you know their two previous titles ‘The Maw’ and ‘Splosion Man’. And if you’ve played either, you know that Twisted Pixel can deliver not only a great game but some big laughs, and that’s exactly what they do with Comic Jumper.
Comic Jumpers tells the story of an unpopular comic book hero appropriately named Captain Smiley, due to his head being in the shape of a big round yellow smiley face. Like most comic book heroes, Captain Smiley keeps a sidekick around named Star, who finds an infinite amount of time disagreeing and arguing with Captain Smiley due to the fact that he is biologically attached to him. Anyways, their comic book series is a flop and are on the verge of cancellation until Twisted Pixel jumps in a lends our heroes a hand. Captain Smiley is to travel, or Comic Jump, into three different comic books and lend his helping hand.
As Captain Smiley continues to comic jump through different era’s and styles of comics, it allows Twisted Pixel to change up the look of the game. The fantasy styled comic entitled, Nanoc The Obliviator, has a Conan the Barbarian look to it. It even has a character doing a full Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation. The Silver Age comic entitled, Improbable Paper Pals, takes place in the 1950’s and has an old school cel-shaded art look to it. It is also the most controversial as it continually makes anti-feminist remarks and pokes fun at Asian stereotypes. Lastly is the manga series entitled, Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids, which looks pencil shaded in black and white and changes the side-scroll gameplay from right to left. All three different comic styles, along with a modern style gives Twisted Pixel the opportunity to do something really unique with not only the character design but also the look of the game, and they handle each one perfectly.
The gameplay consist mostly of 2D side-scrolling platforming shooter. As you move from left to right, you can constantly keep your finger on the right trigger and aim with the right analog in a 360 degree direction; Think Earthworm Jim. The gameplay mechanics also switch up from simple beat-em-up controls, to a top-down shooter. Comic Jumper does plenty when it comes to different gameplay mechanics and pulls it off naturally. It did eventually start to feel a little repetitive, but the story keeps it fun.
It will be a sad day when a Twisted Pixel game doesn’t make me laugh. Luckily that day has not come. Most of the humor in Comic Jumper is delivered with visual gags, like seeing a chubby kids face as a boss battle. The voice work is pretty good, and the voice actors do a fine job of delivering some of the comedic dialogue. And if you remember those funny songs in ‘Splosion Man’ than you’ll enjoy the Stats song, Brad’s theme song, and Captain Smiley’s ringtone.
I haven’t even mentioned how much content this game has. For the price of 1200 Microsoft Points you get two gamerpics, a premium theme two extra ‘Splosion Man’ levels, and two avatar awards. Sold separately that would cost you at least 600-800 Microsoft Points, how’s that for value? The campaign alone took me around six hours to complete but I assure you I haven’t unlocked half of the extra content like character models, comics, audio clips, and more.
Twisted Pixel continues to have fun when developing their games and it shows, which in some terms makes me have fun playing the game. Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley may be just a tad repetitive but it is overall a fun time and well deserving of your money. Comic Jumper is not only the best Xbox Live Arcade game this year, it is also one of the year’s best games.