Retro Review: Jumping Flash!
Developed By: Exact
Published By: Sony Computer Entertainment of America
Original Release Date: November 1995
Recommended. Although the original Jumping Flash! came out over a decade ago, it manages to feel innovative and fresh. The grainy, antiquated graphics do no harm to the fun, vibrant atmosphere of the game, filled with great music and fun character. The game is simply a blast, and one can only hope that a modern-day sequel will be made. The limited save system is annoying for gamers on the go, but those with time to kill will easily find Jumping Flash! to be the best downloadable PSone game so far.
Jumping Flash! is unlike any game out there, which is an impressive testament, considering how this game first game over a decade ago. It's one of the first games to truly explore a 3D environment, and it still has the ability to inspire awe in the player. The concept is strangely unique: a first-person platformer, which combines vertigo-inducing triple-jumps and pretty intense shooting.
The game is successful on many levels. Firstly, the controls. They are brilliantly simple. It's easy to turn on your PSP and just jump into the game. The intuitive controls feel natural, especially the first-person jumping. Many FPS games avoid jumping, simply because it's dizzying. However, the gravity-defying jumps in Jumping Flash! are so much fun thanks to some great decisions made by the development team. Firstly, you can jump up to three times consecutively mid-air. The ability to make stories-high leaps is truly refreshing. You look down after the second jump, allowing you to aim where you want to land your craft. The ability to jump a third time lets you make any corrections to your jump, or simply transcend to an even higher level. It's surprisingly effective, and makes you wonder why there aren't more first-person platformers out there.
The jumping system is absolutely perfect in the game, and I had fun simply traversing through levels. When a control scheme is fun, even without any goals, you know you have something special. However, the game isn't just jumping: you have to fight enemies as well. The Square button is used to shoot, and the R button can be used in conjunction to aim. It's simplistic, but effective. Combat is made even more entertaining through the presence of some truly excellent power-ups. Each weapon you collect can produce some devastating effects: my personal favorite is a laser-beam which destroys everything in your line of sight. Enemies will be completely decimated as you'll be able to stop time, become invincible, shoot bombs, and throw whirlwinds at enemies.
With its cute story and art style, it's easy to see why I've become so enamored with this game. However, Jumping Flash! still features some crucial flaws that would've helped make this game even more stellar. Firstly, the game's lack of memory can lead to some truly frustrating, and difficult situations. The game doesn't remember whether or not you've killed an enemy, so enemies will constantly respawn, even if you simply move a few feet ahead of you. Although your character is powerful, he's certainly not immortal, and this certainly ramps up the difficulty in an unfair way. Also, the lack of a strafe button helps the mobility of the character greatly. You can only stand still and aim, making head-to-head battles a much less elegant affair than they can be (boss battles will be especially frustrating in this regard). Also, the game's length may be too short for most (although the $6 price point makes it much easier to accept). Finally, the game's saving structure isn't ideal for portable gamers: you have to beat three stages consecutively in order to save. The game's relative difficulty will make this quite a trial, forcing you to spend quite a bit of time with it before you can progress.
Even with these flaws in mind, I couldn't help but find myself entranced with Jumping Flash!. The game is a testament to how fun, innovative and creative gameplay can overcome aging graphics. Although it may be an unfairly difficult game at times, you'll find yourself strangely motivated to try, try again. The game is simply a blast, and one can only hope that a modern-day sequel will be made. The limited save system is annoying for gamers on the go, but those with time to kill will easily find Jumping Flash! to be the best downloadable PSone game so far. This is $6 well-spent.
PSP Fanboy Retro Review: 7.5 out of 10
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