PAX impressions / Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley

Twisted Pixel’s stock is quickly rising in the world of indie games. The Maw was a fun little romp, but ‘Splosion Man showed off the team’s ability to create excellently designed platforming levels along with its absurd sense of humor. I had Everybody Loves Doughnuts stuck in my head for a month after finishing that game. Now the team just wrapped up their biggest and most ambitious game to date with Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley, and Japan is going to love it.

The neat thing about Comic Jumper is the numerous visual styles throughout the game. Each level is a different style from a different genre of comic books, and the demo in question featured the highly anticipated manga level. Lead programmer Mike Henry said the team at Twisted Pixel spent a lot of time reading many comic books for research, but the crew actually avoided reading too much Manga. “[The Manga level] was fueled more by a lack of knowledge of the subject, so we just did as many crazy crap as we could.”

Captain Smiley transforms into numerous characters throughout the game, and the Manga level features a character that Square Enix could probably pursue legal action over if they cared to. As the spitting image of Cloud Strife, Smiley runs through the halls of Hent High (Yup) slashing through love stricken anime schoolgirls on his way to a boss fight featuring a mammoth teddy bear…thing. Anyone who enjoys poking fun at absurd anime is going to get a real kick out of this level.

The game is primarily a side-scroller where you switch between melee and gun-based combat, but occasionally the game veers into a 3rd person rail shooter of sorts. The shooting feels a bit stiff, and would benefit greatly from a lock-on feature, but Henry informed me that the game is gold, so that’s probably not going to happen by the time the game launches on October 6th.

The highlight of the demo was the incredibly funny banter between Captain Smiley and the star on his chest, who happens to go by Star. The two are constantly bickering throughout the entire level, with Star taking the role of the bully picking on his favorite schoolyard target. The script is really sharp with verbal back-and-forth like this:

Captain Smiley: “Hey what the hell is Pocky anyways?”
Star: “Dunno, but it’s like crack to these kids!”

I don’t know how well Comic Jumper is going to hold up as a game throughout the entire campaign, but one thing is for sure: it’s hilarious. The shooting feels a bit weak, but the melee combat was satisfying, and if you’re the type of person who can value a game that’s truly funny when so few games are, Comic Jumper’s looking like it’ll be worth your $15.