Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Jump Gear



I'm tired, my head hurts and I've been suffering from back pain for the last four days, so for all I know Jump Gear is a really good game and I'm just in a pissy mood. But I doubt it.

You see, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of "tilty" games, where one drives a vehicle over a bumpy terrain, trying to keep balance and not crash. They're simple and addictive, and when I want to kill five minutes without exerting too much mental energy, more often than not I'll load one of these games.



I had high hopes for Jump Gear because it looks really damn nice. Normally top notch graphics aren't important in this type of game, but it's nice to see when someone makes an effort. The result is a title that looks cute but not to the point of annoyance.

The objective is to reach a checkpoint within a certain time limit, collecting good power-ups while avoiding the bad ones (I guess you would call them power-downs?) This sounds easier than it is - a lot easier. I should have known what I was in for when the very first level starts on a slope that flips the vehicle over immediately.



The good news is that you don't lose a life when this happens, and you can actually still move, but you're slowed to a crawl until you can right yourself again. the only effective way of doing this is to reverse while tilting in one direction. So, in order to get back on four wheels and reach the checkpoint, you have to back before you can go forward. And because it's so easy to flip over, you'll have to do this repeatedly.



God help you if you catch the ice power-up while driving through water. What could be beneficial (water slows you way down - so much for those big ass wheels) quickly becomes anything but. Even if you manage to pull yourself out of the ice, you're not going anywhere until the landscape thaws, and keep in mind the clock is ticking.

On the bright side, you have the ability to jump over obstacles. On the not so bright side, this feature is almost completely useless unless you like jumping backwards and landing upside down. It's not hard to figure out when to jump, it's just hard to know how best to land so you don't end up stuck for five seconds.



As if bumping across hills in almost zero gravity while you careen through the air isn't bad enough, in level two the game introduces these multicoloured balls that block your path and slow you down even more. If this happens while driving through water, you can kiss any chance of success goodbye. Yes, you can jump over them, but that's pretty pointless if you're driving up a hill and jump perpendicular to the landscape.



The less said about the bubbles, the better. Suffice to say, I hate them with the intensity of a pitbull and wish them a slow, painful death, even if they are nothing more than pixels on a screen.

Die, evil pixels, die!



Once the timer runs out a five second countdown begins. Cool, you think, five more seconds to complete the level. But all you can do is jump. That's great if you're right next to the checkpoint and perched on the side of a hill, but completely useless otherwise.



And, time after time, it's game over. Suddenly the cute graphics become that little bit more unnerving. The migraine you were nursing becomes that bit more intense. And your blood pressure rises just that little more, enough to make you say, "To hell with this!"

Once again, a game with so much promise falls flat on its face. Amazingly, as the title screen states, Jump Gear 2 is on the way. We can only hope and pray that it's a big improvement on this waste of bandwidth.

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