It's got the rhythm so don't be blue.
How the times have changed! Once, the 2D platformer was the genre of choice for any game with a recognisable license attached to it; TV shows, movies, children’s toys, even snacks and soft drinks had platform games to their names. Over the years, however, the 2D plaformer fell from favour, pushed aside by the new love of all things 3D. The genre was seeing increasingly less action, and was all but dead.
But then, something rather interesting happened. Independent developers decided to adopt this style of game as their preferred genre, and started to play within the confines of its limitations. Physics was an obvious thing to add, but soon all sorts of wild and wonderful gimmicks were being thrown in to the mix. It was not long before the sleeping giant was awoken, and 2D platformers became synonymous with the creativity that the industry was built upon once again.
Developers Bulkypix have headed into platformland for their new title. Jazz: Trump's Journey tells the tale of a New Orleans musician in the 1920's. His desire is to form the greatest jazz band in order to win the music contest. Armed with his trusty trumpet, he jumps about from platform to platform, pushing blocks onto switches and collecting trinkets in time-honoured platform game fashion. Naturally, these days, there has to be something beyond just jumping, and Trump's trumpet is imbued with magical properties. A quick blow on it, and time freezes. This, as you can no doubt guess, comes in extremely useful as a way to, for example, stop a spinning platform so that you can actually land on it. As the game progresses, the situations requiring usage of the trumpet and the solution to the puzzles you face become ever more creative.
So, as a platform game, Jazz is enjoyable. What lifts it above so many of its peers, though, is the presentation. Cartoon sprites hop about over hand-drawn backdrops in a sepia-toned world. It looks quite lovely. But, as appealing as the graphics are, the real star of the show is the soundtrack. Being set in 1920's New Orleans, the obvious direction to take things was right into Jazz territory. And this was a masterstroke of an idea, as the musical accompaniment to the hugely enjoyable on-screen action is likely to set your feet-a-tapping and put a smile on your face. As band members are collected, their instruments add a layer to the music, and this in itself is reason enough to continue forwards. Even without this, though, the platforming itself is draw enough. Things start out with practically non-existent difficulty, but it doesn't take too long before some head-scratching takes place.
On-screen controls are nicely unobtrusive, with context sensitive buttons only becoming visible when they are needed. Sadly, they are not always as responsive as they might be, and there will be times when you plummet to your doom through no fault of your own. This is alleviated somewhat by the instant respawning at one of the frequent checkpoints, so that death never makes you want to put your device down. This is much more likely to be due to the cut-scenes, which sometimes go on that tiny bit too long. Patience is a virtue, but they do press up against the limits at times.
This is, of course, nit-picking at its finest. These breaks in the action are only noticeable BECAUSE the action is so enjoyable. Jazz: Trump's Journey is a high-class game that wouldn't look out of place on the PC or XBox Live Arcade. Whilst not quite rubbing shoulders with the giants, it can still hold its head up high amongst its contemporaries. Collectables and Achievements offer additional replay value, but the likelihood is that one playthrough will be sufficient. And, while that playthrough lasts, your feet will be tapping as often as your fingers. Jazz: Trump's Journey is a true portable good time.
- Sound: 10
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 7
- Longevity: 7
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