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Jumping Flash! Review Rewind


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On 10/13/2015 at 12:45 AM by Jamie Alston

Better hop to it.
RECOMMENDATION:

A no-brainer for lovers of first-person platformers.

Ever since the Atari 2600 debuted in 1977, it's been fairly customary for at least one game developer to bring something new to the table just in time for the launch of a new gaming system, or soon after. In 1995, developers Exact and Ultra gave us a little ditty called Jumping Flash-- a game with roots that can be traced back to Exact’s previous 3D platformer Geograph Seal on the Sharp X68000. I remember playing a demo of Jumping Flash back in 1996. After a few minutes of leaping and smashing enemies on impact, I knew I was in love.

The story takes place sometime in the distant future. The greedy villain, Baron Aloha, has excavated vast chunks of the Earth, enslaved its inhabitants, and made off with the planetary pieces to use as a private retreat for himself. In response, the Universal City Hall put a plan into action to deploy Robbit- a robotic rabbit- to save the day. Robbit must find the 4 Jet Pods spread throughout each miniature “world” and bring them safely back to Earth.

 

Jumping Flash is one of the most interesting games of its time, it being a hybrid mix of the platformer and first person shooter (FPS) genres. Although you're armed with a beam cannon with infinite ammo, your main weapon is actually the ability to double jump. While it doesn't sound like much initially, the higher you jump, the more damage you'll do to your enemies. Stomping on foes from high altitudes is a big part of the game and pretty fun too. Particularly impressive is the forethought that went into the jumping mechanic. When performing a double jump, the camera automatically pans downward, parallel to the ground.  This allows you to see precisely where you are going as you descend, eliminating the guesswork of calculating your landing.

Additionally, Robbit can pick up special weapons and other items dropped by defeated enemies, or just lying around the area. You'll get to utilize quirky weapons such as exploding Cherry Bombs, narrow-shooting Roman Candles, heat-seeking Rockets, and spiral-spinning Twisters to give you some additional firepower. Other special items allow you to stop time, increase your health, or grant you invincibility with a psychedelic display to go along with it. No matter which power-ups you obtain, all of them prove to be quite useful in a variety of situations.

 

The enemies that populate each stage are just as interesting as the game itself. You'll see creatures like frogs wearing top hats, dung beetles that use bombs for "dung", red hippo-like animals that shoot missiles at you, and a host of other unusual (yet cutesy) creations. The bosses are also very diverse as well. All of them are colossal in size and may take a bit of strategy before being able to bring them down, especially in later stages. You'll be going up against interesting beings such as a fire-breathing dragon, large clown body parts that pop out of tea cups (which admittedly was a little creepy for me), and even a shape-shifting creature comprised of small cubes.

The game initially is pretty light in difficulty overall, but it can get hairy in certain levels. Most of the challenge comes in merely trying to find the Jet Pods that must be collected in each area. This is especially true in the extra mode, after you complete the game once. In extra mode, the Jet Pods are hidden in different locations from the first time you ran through the game. The time limit is also reduced, only giving you about half of the time that was originally allotted. In the later extra levels, you may find yourself frantically trying to find all 4 Jet Pods that you so badly need. You'll also take more damage which means that certain enemies may pose more of a problem for you than before, mostly in the areas with narrow corridors and tight spaces. The same goes for the boss battles too. Even so, the higher difficulty isn't impossible and it helps to prolong the enjoyment of an otherwise short game. Seasoned players can probably beat this game within an hour or two.

 

Robbit controls well for the most part. If you need to aim up or down while shooting, you can use the shoulder buttons in conjunction with the directional pad to get a fix on any air borne enemies in your sights. Unfortunately, aiming up or down and turning around feels just a little too slow at times, but you can usually compensate for the slowness by performing turns while in mid air since you can move significantly faster than on foot. So, despite the minor shortcomings, the controls are solid and responsive.

Despite being one of the earliest PlayStation games, Jumping Flash still looks pretty good 20 years later. In all, there are 6 worlds to explore, each of them with 3 mini-areas to complete before moving on the next world. The worlds come alive with fun details such as bright colors, floating blimps and platforms, and hidden passages. Plus, thanks to the well thought out level designs, some of the areas seem to go on forever without any real boundaries, short of running out of platforms to jump on. It gives you the feeling that you are truly free to explore as much of the area as you possibly can.

 

Also of note, is the solid frame rate that is maintained throughout most of the game. The only time things slow down a bit is when you've got a lot of moving enemies and objects in your view. But moments like that are kept to a minimum and it doesn't detract from the better aspects of the game. Although Jumping Flash may not be able to hold a candle to the HD-centric world we live in today, it still represents the old 32-bit era in a fine manner.

The music goes very well with a game like this. It ranges from mellow to a little zany, but nothing too crazy. Worlds 1, 4, and 5 are some the best examples of the game utilizing the true CD quality sound capabilities of the PlayStation. The music is crystal clear and even a bit catchy at times, my favorite being the quick fanfare that plays each time you successfully complete a level. The sound effects are right on par with the music as well. The effects are kind bouncy and really go with the whole "jumping" theme of the game. It's also fun to hear the wind rush as you're landing from a high jump. It’s a detail that could easily have been overlooked but thankfully it wasn't.

 

Looking back, I think it's a shame that the Jumping Flash series didn't have a longer time in the limelight than some of the more popular game series released after it. It did spawn two sequels on the PlayStation, but unfortunately the last one didn't make it over here to the States. But that's okay, because for what it's worth, Jumping Flash is still one of the best games to be released so early in the PlayStation’s life cycle. It also stands as an impressive 3D platformer that predated Super Mario 64.

Although I've never seen any other game series from Exact/Ultra, I’m sure glad that we at least got this one that reminded us that the platformer genre doesn't have to only remain in the 2D realm when it’s done right. So if you've never played this game before, or maybe you're just looking for a good memory of years past, try to track down a copy, or better yet, purchase it on the PlayStation Store. It is a delightfully quirky title worth adding to your collection.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Cary Woodham

10/13/2015 at 07:44 AM

I got my PlayStation a couple of years after it had already released, so I didin't play this game at first.  But when I did get one, i rented Jumping Flash and liked it quite a bit for a rental.  Many, many years later I played the sequel and never could get into it for some reason.  The first one was definitely an interesting take on 3-D gaming, since that genre was still in its infancy and developers didn't know what to do with it yet.  Too bad the third one in Japan never came out over here.

I came up with an idea for a sequel to Jumping Flash one time, and you could play as three different jumping robot characters: Robbit from the first game, who could shoot carrot missiles.  Ribbot the frog could grapple things with his long tongue, and Roobot the kangaroo could send a little Joey-bot from its pouch to explore small places.  Sometimes silly ideas get into my head for some reason.

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

10/13/2015 at 02:09 PM

Yeah, Jumping Flash 2 might have been difficult to get into to because it wasn't as much a leap forward (pardon the pun) as it could have been.  It felt more like Jumping Flash 1.5 instead of benifide sequel.  Still a good game for me though.

I think your ideas for a future Jumping Flash game are brilliant!  A robotic kangaroo with smaller joey-bot?  That kind of stuff is right up my alley!  Now you got me wishing they would have done something like that in JF 2.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

10/13/2015 at 03:53 PM

I had the demo disc for this somehow. I remember playing it. Never bought it, never played the real game. Always curious about it.  It's on PSN isn't?  I should pick it up.  I love the graphics.  I really like PSONE graphics, haters be damned.  

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

10/14/2015 at 11:21 AM

Yeah, don't mind the haters.  Yes, you can find Jumping Flash on PSN for $5.99.  You'd probably have a great time with this game.  It's a little on the easy side overall, but still fun to just move around in that 3D environment while leaping to greater heights.

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