Jumping Joe & Friends
Developer: Qubic Games / Vixa Games
Publisher: Qubic Games
Release Date: 25 May 2018 (US) / 1 June 2018 (EU)
Price: $4.99 / £4.49
Reviewed by Josh Brant
While the Nintendo Switch is rife with deep and engaging gaming experiences, it’s nice to also have more casual sessions when you're on-the-go. Developer Qubic Games seems to be the masters of fun, bite-sized titles, and their latest release, Jumping Joe & Friends, might be their best yet. It’s a really simple game, consisting of only jumping left and right, but I’d be remiss not to mention how much fun I had with the premise.
Jumping With a Cause
You start off playing as the hero Joe; a baseball cat-wearing, jumping master, who is destined to hop and jump as far up the mountain as he can. Hot lava continuously rises making jumping with Joe hectic, but there's enough lenience to avoid it becoming too stressful or frustrating. The goal is simple: jump left and right and see if you can make it higher in repeated sessions.
The main single-player mode is Arcade, and this consists of having Joe or his friends jump up the mountain ledges as high as they can. Every level is set between two walls with numerous procedurally generated platforms to jump to. As you make your way up, there are gems, gem bags, and power crates to increase your score and help you continue your ascent. For every 100 platforms you scale the mountain colours will change, and you’ll have new threats and hazards to deal with that get progressively harder.
Stay Away From the Lava
To help avoid these obstacles, powerups can be collected as your climb, consisting of a super rocket jump - automatically blasting you 50 platforms higher - and a magnet to help pull the in-game currency towards you.
The coins you collect can be used to buy new characters and cosmetic options, or to level up your characters for improved skills. For example, Rocket Bird can unlock longer boost speed, or Rage Bomber can gain the ability to blow up more hazards.
All your highest scores are tracked, including tallest climbs and how many coins were collected in a single run.
Controlling Joe and his friends is simple, and it’s in this simplicity that Jumping Joe & Friends truly shines. You can use either the left and right D-pad buttons, the triggers, or Y and A buttons to make your character jump side to side, that’s it.
Along the way, there will be enemies and spikes to avoid and jumping in the wrong direction can result in an instant death, although each character can take one additional hit from spikes or enemies with their hats acting as a hit point.
Grab Some Friends to Play
Even with the simple gameplay mechanics, the high replayability and charming tone, make this the type of game that's great to play with friends. Thankfully, in keeping with it's title, Jumping Joe & Friends supports up to four players in local multiplayer mode, letting you race Joe and his cubic buddies to the top of a level, giving an additional tension to the standard arcade format by requiring both awareness and speed. My friends and I definitely had fun playing a few rounds against each other, although it did quickly become repetitive, and it’s difficult to see this lasting long for multiple gaming sessions.
Overall, Jumping Joe & Friends is a simple and fun little indie title for anyone to play. This simplicity becomes repetitive fast, but it's certainly fun for a couple hours, and it’s the type of game I can see myself coming back to occasionally when I want something quick to play. It’s best played in short-bursts, with the straightforward design and arcade-like gameplay providing quick, fun, pick-up-and-play sessions.
Pros & Cons
+ Fun pick-up-and-play controls
+ Local multiplayer is a great time
+ Plenty of unlockables
- Lack of depth in presentation and aesthetics
- Simple gameplay can become repetitive
- Needs more game modes