This "Smiley" Makes My Face 'N' Fingers Hurt!
Oh Captain Smiley. How much I wanted to think you were a big bag of awesome. Unfortunately your superpowers are no match for my critical analysis, and dude I have many issues with your video game debut.
Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley comes from the folks at Twisted Pixel, the same guys who brought us the lovable 'Splosion Man. Our titillating title character, Captain Smiley (voiced by Christoper Sabat), is in a bit of a pickle. After 23 issues of total suck-a-tude his comic book is cancelled, and now he and his cohorts are out of a job. Fortunately the folks at Twisted Pixel help pick up our not-so-beloved hero and push him towards getting his comic relaunched. Unfortunately, in order to do that, Smiley and his talking logo Star (also voiced by Sabat) have to guest star in various comics; ranging from the tough guy-styled Nanoc the Obliviator to the shoujo manga-based Cutie Cutie Cupid Kids. With the assistance of Gerda (Brina Palencia) our semi-hero tries to kick enough ass (and sometimes sings!) to earn the dough to restart his series.
Comic Jumper is probably the funniest game since Conker's Bad Fur Day, thanks in part to the dialogue and comic parodies. The appearance of the racially-insensitive Origami Kid in the 1950s comic Improbable Paper Pals had me in stitches, bringing back fond memories of the Dick Tracy character Joe Jitsu and Benny Hill's Mr. Chow Mein. It's offensive, but it's still funny as hell. Then we have the manga scenes, where Captain Smiley is dressed like a Final Fantasy character and has to ride a unicorn that farts rainbows. Once the characters start singing and dancing you won't be able to contain your laughter. I would go into Captain Smiley's ultimate attack, but I don't want to spoil the funniest part of the game.
The graphics in Comic Jumper are also very impressive, and with each different type of comic brings its proper style. The Nanoc levels look butchy, the Cupid Kids are cutesy and the Paper Pals are very retro. For a downloadable title Captain Smiley has the visual power of some of the strongest disc-based games. The voice acting from Sabat and Palencia is also superb, and it's backed by a great soundtrack that fits with each respectable comic.
Here's my first issue with the game: it's a tough one to control. When Captain Smiley is battling it out with minions you will have to use almost all of the buttons and analog sticks to maneuver Smiley through the level. On top of that you'll have to aim and shoot at the same time while you try to avoid other villains from killing you. It's seemingly impossible to aim, shoot and run at the same time, and having to use your guns in almost every moment of the game wound up making my fingers hurt. The folks at Twisted Pixel could've made it more simpler, but they sadly made Comic Jumper a bitch to control.
Then we get to the worst part about Comic Jumper: it's ridiculously hard, and not in a good Scott Pilgrim VS The World: The Game way. You will find yourself dying hundreds of times in each level, thanks in part to there being no power-ups or health boosts to help you get through the level. There are checkpoints, yes, but you won't be too happy where you'll find Captain Smiley reemerging. You'll be cussing at your TV when you see our semi-hero appear in an area that was about ten minutes of gameplay before you died. Gamers will not pleased with Comic Jumper's difficulty level, as it will make them more enraged than glad. With a gameplay run of just about seven hours, too, it's not really worth 1200 Xbox points to play a short and impossibly tough game like this.
- One of the funniest games around
- Voice-work is great
- Beautiful graphics
- Unforgivably hard
- Controls are tough to handle
- No health boosts
- Not enough checkpoints
I really wanted to be in love with Comic Jumper, as I was in awe of the demo I witnessed at this past year's PAX East. Unfortunately it difficulty level and control scheme make it a hard game to enjoy thoroughly. Yes it's side-achingly funny, but those who played The Simpsons Game will remember how silly and terrible that game was. While Comic Jumper isn't as bad, it's not as good as it should've been. If I were Twisted Pixel I would create a patch to either fix the difficulty level or add power-ups; otherwise Comic Jumper is a game to wait for the price to drop before purchasing.
FINAL GRADE: 6.8 (out of ten)