There has been a movement of late in regards to old-school video games. Mainly, ever since Shovel Knight came out, there’s been a desire to try and “recapture” the old days of video games. This has led to various games like The Messenger, Katana Zero, and now, Jump King. But whereas those other games had very simple yet deep gameplay, this one focuses on one very simple thing…jumping.
Now, on the surface I’m sure that sounds very fine. After all, Super Mario is honestly about jumping first and foremost, right? Except, you have better control of your jumps, and you have superpowers of course via your items. But with Jump King, the name of the game here is precision platforming to an extreme.
What do I mean by that? Well, in the game, you play a Knight who has heard a legend. A legend…of a babe. One who rests on the top of an impossibly large tower, and the only way to get to her is to jump to the very top and get her…if you can reach that far.
Just so we’re clear, this isn’t exactly a deep game. In fact, the world speed record for Jump King is actually a little over five minutes from the bottom to the top, and that’s with no falls. But for the average player, it’ll take a lot longer, and not for the reasons that make games good per see.
You see, you can control how high/far you jump in the game. You use the spacebar for height/distance, and then you use the arrow keys to guide where your character should go. But, unlike someone like Shovel Knight or Super Mario Bros, once you jump, you can’t adjust yourself midair. You literally go on a path until you land or hit something. That makes the jumping not just precision, but deadly precise. And I do mean deadly. Because while you can’t “die” in the game, you can fall, and if you mistime a single jump, you can find yourself crashing back to where you began at times.
Sadly, that makes Jump King a game that not everyone will want to play. Because you have to be a master of the controls and the abilities of the character in order to progress through the game. Again, it is possible, but there’s no real tutorial here, and so you’ll have to learn on the fly. Which can make the early levels very frustrating.
While the mechanics of the game aren’t the best, I will give credit to the level design. They could’ve simply made a game with different kinds of platforms, and in the early levels they did, but they eventually change it up to add things like weather changes. Including the wind blowing you around, or snow pits that will much up your sense of sight and how high you can jump. For those who make it that far, you’ll be in for a challenge.
As noted before, Jump King isn’t the deepest game around. And it’s a bit on the nose with its story and its visual style. The main character is almost an exact copy of Shovel Knight, and the 8-bit style is easily a reference to it. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks beautiful, and the 8-bit soundtrack picks up as the game goes on, but still, it could’ve tried to be a little more original.
Also, there might be a few people kind of insulted with the basic premise being that there is a “smokin hot babe” waiting for you at the top of the tower.
Still, for those who want a video game that will challenge them in a certain way, then Jump King is definitely something you can check out. And, there’s a game plus mode coming to it in June for you to look forward to.