Comic Jumper is a game at odds with itself. It is entertaining, visually striking, well-written, and genuinely funny. To get to all of those things, though, you have to play a mediocre game. Comic Jumper can’t decide what it ought to be in terms of mechanics. Is it a beat-em-up? A 2D dual-stick shooter? A shmup? Or a Space Harrier clone? It is all of those things, but it isn’t especially good at any of them. Fortunately, you will have enough fun along the way that the gameplay won’t ruin it for you.
Captain Smiley is finished. His comic book was canceled and now to pay the bills he must make guest appearances in other comics. This setup allows for multiple art and play styles. You will fight through contemporary comics, silver age comics, old adventure comics, and Japanese manga. Each comic type features three levels and multiple play styles. Most will feature at least a beat-em-up section and a shooter section. Beat-em-up sections involve three-punching everything you come across while the shooting sections are all about doing your best to take out all of the bullet sponge enemies. Until you grind out some upgrades every enemy feels like a mini-boss and the whole thing just feels tedious.
The writing and voice acting in Comic Jumper are both top notch. Captain Smiley finds himself in some strange situations, but the voice actors really sell it. Captain Smiley can’t do it on his own though. His sidekick, Star, is always along for the ride but instead of helping you out in combat his primary role is that of wise-cracker. His quips don’t always hit the mark, but he has far more hits than misses and the game would not be the same without him. Star is not the only absurdity in Comic Jumper. Captain Smiley can use smart bombs to clear the screen when things get too hectic, but instead of a big explosion you’re treated to the guys from Twisted Pixel slapping the screen followed by a wink from a man with a great beard. There is no better description of Comic Jumper (or Twisted Pixel as a whole) than that.
I have a hard time lauding the virtues of Comic Jumper as a game, but you should pick it up nonetheless because it is smart, funny, all sorts of crazy, and you will enjoy the experience despite the middling gameplay mechanics.
Pros: Snappy writing, great art direction
Cons: Mediocre gameplay mechanics