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Reviews (0-9 / A-M)

Jumping Jack

984 (1-2 Players)



Overview and game play

Jumping Jack (“JJ”) is a cartoon-style platform game for 2 players. One coin is required per player and one credit buys the player 3 lives of Jack, a short, fat man with a white hat who the player guides through increasingly difficult levels filled with an assortment of enemies. JJ is different from most other platform games due to its control system. Jack does not run or walk but is only able to jump by pressing button 1, which causes him to jump on the spot. Holding the joystick left while pressing button 1 will cause Jack to jump left and he can jump down, right or up by pushing the respective direction on the joystick and pressing button 1. Each level is displayed on a static screen and Jack must jump his way over various obstacles to reach the top of the screen to complete the level. In the bottom right corner of the screen, the word “bonus” is written with a number counting down to zero. When Jack completes the level, he will be awarded whatever amount remains as a bonus to his score, so he has an incentive to finish each level as quickly as possible. Also, if the countdown reaches zero, Jack will loose a life as a penalty for being so slow which is another motive for the player to be quick. Players can earn additional points by collecting fruit bonuses such as cherries that appear at various points in the game. The next level then begins and the same procedure applies, only with a different scene containing different obstacles to jump over.



On some levels there are pieces of wood balanced on a centrally placed object to make them act like a seesaw or there may be something that is bouncy such as a giant mushroom that instantly springs Jack into the air in the direction he was jumping. When Jack jumps on to a seesaw it wobbles around but Jack remains on it. If an enemy is on a seesaw and Jack jumps on it, Jack’s jump will cause the enemy to be sprung off the seesaw and die on impact with the ground below. The same can happen to Jack if he is standing on a seesaw that an enemy jumps on, so players must be careful to time their jumps to avoid this happening. If Jack jumps on to an enemy that is walking around on solid ground, he will be attacked and killed by the enemy so timing jumping over enemies is a crucial skill to be learnt to progress in the game. At the top of the screen are the letters “E-X-T-R-A” and each of the letters is initially coloured gray. At any time, one of the letters is surrounded by a cursor that moves over each of them in sequence.  Pink monkeys are a common enemy in JJ’s levels, but occasionally a white monkey appears. If Jack kills a white monkey, the letter beneath the moving cursor will be highlighted and when all the letters are highlighted, a separate screen suddenly appears to award the player an extra life and the level the player is currently playing will automatically be completed and the next level then begins.



JJ’s graphics are of a good standard for 1984, when the game was released. The scenes and characters are all 2d but are viewed from a perspective that makes them appear more solid and attractive than some characters and scenes in other games available at the time. The animations used to represent the enemies movement and Jacks’ jumping are good and in some cases actually add to the game play. On level 2, some rhinos charge against some tree stumps causing the trees to shake violently. Players must control Jacks’ jumps so that he does not land on a tree that a rhino attacks; otherwise Jack will fall to his death instantly. On each level there is plenty of action on screen and there is a good variety of enemies to confront such as jumping monkeys, charging rhino’s and spear throwing tribal people as well as other people who roll boulders at Jack to crush him. Players must act according to what confronts them and the different enemies and their animations each add variety to the game play.




Mid-tempo, chip-based music plays throughout each of JJ’s scenes that is about average for a mid-eighties game. The sounds are simple but are sufficient to add to the interactivity of the game by providing some response to the players’ jump and movements during play.



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