Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jump n' Bump

Well, I'm one up on Gen. MacArthur because I have returned. After a week-long hiatus spent not playing the game I took a week off for, I'm back with my nose to the grind reviewing Linux games, and we take up the quest once more with Jump n' Bump. Remember Mario Bros.? Not the 'super' one that got everyone so excited, the earlier one that was just Mario and Luigi trying to score points by killing each other on single-screen levels that also had monsters. Jump n' Bump is like that, only with bunny-rabbits that explode in a shower of viscera when they're offed.

Out-of-the-box, there's only one level, and the closest thing to a website for it that I can find is an empty blog that according to other websites actually had over a hundred extra levels for download at some point. With only one screen, the novelty wears off mighty quick, so here's to hoping that whoever's got that website adds their old content back at some point.

It's basically multi-player only as there's no AI, but I'm reviewing it anyway because I could play by myself using the keyboard and the mouse to control competing rabbits. The controls are good on the keyboard, and even decent on the mouse, which surprised me. You left click to go left, right-click to go right, and click both buttons at the same time to jump. I thought it would be awkward but it works well.

The mechanics being so simple, it's a decent formula for competition, and it supports four-player simultanous play both locally and via network. If you were pining to relive the game that lead to the game that started it all, this is a great version.

The graphics are cutesy, and therefore amusing when the gore happens, but itsy-bitsy when playing windowed at the default resolution. Checking the 'double resolution' box fixes that, leaving you with a game that looks like something from the SNES-era with decent art-direction. Oddly, it's in widescreen, but it may be that I only find that odd because I'm way behind the times and have a standard-ratio monitor.

The music is also of the cute, old-school shareware style: think games for kids. Thankfully, it's quiet and manages to be complimentary to the gameplay rather than a soul-destroying annoyance.

Honestly, if you're into competitive multi-player gaming enough to download and install a game, and make your friends download and install the same game, so you can play together, you're probably more into Counterstrike or Halo than Mario Bros.-meets-bunny-rabbits. This is definitely not for that crowd. It's also not for the famed 40-year-old-lady market that devours puzzle-games.

I can't imagine there are a lot of people out there who would be into the experience this game provides. If, however, you're a parent with a four-year-old who could benefit from the practice at audio-visual coordination the simple mechanics provide, and looking for something mostly non-violent (toddlers don't know what those chunks are, do they?), this is something you could play with them. It's a shame the appeal is probably quite limited, because it's a polished release with solid mechanics and a decent-enough feature set, reflecting what must have been a lot of TLC.

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