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Jumping Flash!

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Released: 1995

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: PlayStation

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Developer: Exact/Ultra

A screenshot of Robbit looking at a frog enemy, which is wearing a top hat

This review was originally published in Official UK PlayStation Magazine issue 2, January 1996

Platform games have been around since the dawn of man but it’s taken until now for them to enter the third dimension. PSM reckons this game’s a real gas

Be warned: gamers of a nervous disposition, afeared of precipitous heights and prone to attacks of vertigo and nose bleeds should turn the page. For Jumping Flash takes you on a perilous platform adventure, leaping majestically from pillar to post high above the ground (which in turn hovers above the clouds). And you also get to shoot stuff, too.

Robbit – a robot rabbit – is the hero of the moment, charged with a mission to thwart the dreaded Baron Aloha, an intergalactic property developer, no less. The Baron has stolen vast tracts of your planet, in order to create huge floating holiday villas in space. And that’s the honest truth.

But apart from some glossy video sequences, scenario and game actually share little common ground, so let’s dispense with the made-up-ities and progress directly to the hands-on stuff.

The real point of Jumping Flash is simply to collect four large carrot-shaped power-ups. These are secreted around each level on platforms of varying height and accessibility: some are very low and easily seen, some are mind-bogglingly high and buggers to locate. Predictably, Robbit is able to hurl himself skyward with some force. Time your button-presses correctly and the mechanical leporid performs three such gravity-defying jumps, cumulatively hurling himself hundreds of feet in the air. And therein lies the game: by a mixture of precision leaping and seat-of-the-pants-throwing-yourself-into-the-abyss-type manoeuvres, you have to seek out the four carrotty objects and exit the level.

Hindrances include a variety of nefarious, missile-gobbing creatures – flowers, hippos, giraffes, frogs, fat purple things on legs, and so on – that bar your path and fire harmful substances at you. These are dispatched by shooting them or by landing on them from a height – preferably a great one.

Complete three levels and (surprise, surprise) a boss monster appears in its own arena, waiting for you to kill it – or, more typically, vice versa. These end-of-world guardians are often the biggest challenge that the game offers up, as the straightforward platform stages – especially the early ones – are far from impossible (although the time limits have been tightened up from the Japanese original). This is slightly annoying as battling the bosses merely gets in the way of the real fun, which is throwing yourself around tiny platforms, buildings and balloons suspended in the stratosphere.

A screenshot of Robbit looking down from above at a fire-breathing dragon enemy

The play mechanics of Jumping Flash are brilliantly honed, so that you frequently have to take leaps of faith toward platforms you’re not quite sure you’ll reach. Later levels have tiny ledges and floating balloons which you have to negotiate with your clumsy big bunny feet. And the superlative fairground world has Robbit scooting around the place on towering, multicoloured rollercoasters – a singular gaming experience and no small error.

There are some six worlds in all, split into two areas plus the boss bits. So in total there’s just 18 areas – and a couple of them are boring underground levels, where Robbit is like a caged bird, unable to utilise his greatest asset. However, SCE has updated the UK game with a redesigned World 5, and Ridge Racer-style ‘Extra Worlds’ which you access upon completion of the game (as long as your score is high enough!). So there’s actually a lot of game to be had if you stick with it.

To suggest that Jumping Flash is innovative is a criminal understatement: there’s never been anything quite like this in terms of sheer brain-popping wow factor. Peering over a ledge, about a thousand feet in the air, is an awesome feeling: jumping off that ledge is a blast.

The ability to shoot things does feel like something of an afterthought: you can envisage the designers thinking. ‘Well, if we don’t put some shooting in, no one will buy it! But it might have been more in keeping with the theme of game simply to rely on Robbit’s size 27 stompers to stroy the baddies. Blasting them out of existence feels like a cheat, somehow.

Still, Jumping Flash is a very, very clever game. The hazy depth-cued graphics are spot on, and the gameplay – though less than perfect – is captivating enough to keep your average player battling away for a couple of weeks.

And should you defeat the good Baron, you’ll no doubt find the odd moment when you load up Jumping Flash, just to revel in the sheer thrill of jumping around like a rapid Robbit. This, dear readers, is what 32-bit gaming is all about.

VERDICT

GRAPHICS: 8
Vertigo-inducing

SOUND: 5
Standard aural accompaniment

LIFESPAN: 5
A flash in the pan, really

GAMEPLAY: 8
Astounding airborne action

PRESENTATION: 6
Bizarre video clips

ORIGINALITY: 9
Totally new concept

OVERALL: 8 out of 10
Jumping Flash is one of the new breed of games that only PlayStation can do. It’s a whole new gaming experience, so if you I can afford it, jump at the chance!

A screenshot of Robbit leaping over stage 1-2, with scenery including a hot spring, lava river and frying pan with fried egg

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