Monday, 15 June 2015

Jumpman (C64 review)

Developer: Randy Glover
Publisher: Epyx
Released: 1983

Jumpman is a multi-screen platform game that was originally released on Atari 8-bit computers.


It's similar to Chuckie Egg (1983, home computers) in many ways and your job is to collect and defuse all the bombs in each static screen to move onto the next level. The fire button performs a jump but only if you hold a direction at the same time; this is especially important when you want to reach items above you and it takes a while to get used to the control scheme. Enemies come in many forms and each has specific attack patterns. For example, in the first few levels alone you'll face bullets that home in on your location, speedy robots, bombs that drop in from the sky, vampires that follow you around and UFOs you can actually shoot. The sheer amount of variety is one of the game's many high points and it never seems to rest on its laurels. Some interesting levels include Builder where you must detonate certain bombs so new platforms appear and Runaway where you need to chase the bombs around the screen while avoiding bullets. Although there are 30 levels the game rapidly gets difficult and it will take a lot of practice to even get through the Intermediate screens. New environmental factors are constantly thrown your way and whilst the Advanced levels take some serious patience you'll have tons of fun throughout. One thing I didn't like is that when you die enemies don't reset; this means it's possible to land directly on top of them when you respawn and you'll instantly lose a life. Bullets also have a tendency to shoot in when you're at the far corner of the screen giving you no time to react.

Jumpman was well ahead of its time and the excellent level design and gameplay still hold up well today. There's nothing flashy about it but clearly the developers put a lot of emphasis on the fun factor and for a 1983 game it's seriously impressive how much variety is on display here.



Random trivia: The success of this game led to the release of Jumpman Junior in 1983 which featured 12 levels. It's not technically a sequel as the developer saw it as an opportunity to provide a 'lite' version to users without a disk drive.

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