Comic Jumper
PAX 2010: Comic Jumper Hands-On Preview - More Like Genre Jumper
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While Comic Jumper may be third game released by developer Twisted Pixel, the ideas behind it had been floating around the office for a long time. Captain Smiley, the star of Comic Jumper, began his life as the brainchild of Creative Director Josh Bear, back before he’d even graduated high school. Twisted Pixel had always wanted to use Smiley in a game, but hadn’t felt ready at first. After developing The Maw and ‘Splosion Man, they felt they were finally ready to make Comic Jumper, and we caught up with them at PAX to take a hands-on look at their latest creation.

In Comic Jumper, Captain Smiley is the star of a failing comic book, one that just can’t keep its readers interested anymore, and in a bid to stay relevant and draw in an audience, Smiley loans himself out to take part in other comics. Over the course of the game, Captain Smiley will punch and shoot his way through four distinctly different comic worlds, including a modern comic style, silver age comics, fantasy comics, and manga, which each have a different look and feel.

“It’s really four games in one,” said Mike Wilford, CEO of Twisted Pixel. “None of the assets we use in one comic style can be used in any of the others.” The effort involved in creating the assets needed to have such diverse worlds led to a total development time of 13 months, more than twice as long as it took to make ‘Splosion Man.
We began our hands-on time in the game with a brief look at the central hub. Between missions, Smiley can purchase upgrades to his health, the damage he deals, or purchase a “Help Me,” which we’ll explain in more detail shortly. When the time comes, Smiley hops into a special car that screams down a track toward a brick wall. “It’s an idea we got from the movie Time Cop,” Wilford explained.

Once in the Silver Age, we found ourselves inside a museum, beating up enemy after enemy while moving to the right across the screen in a manner that evoked memories of old-school beat-em-ups like Streets of Rage. While enemy after enemy fell before Smiley’s might, signs warning of “Violations for acts of Comic Obscenity” kept popping up on screen, an intentional parody of the Wesley Snipes movie, “Demolition Man.” At the end of the hall, enemies jumped Smiley from all sides. Time to call in the “Help Me” I reckon.

Comic Jumper is the only game in recent memory that has an entire gameplay mechanic devoted the breaking the fourth wall (and, of course, helping players). In the upper right corner of the screen you’ll find the Twisted Pixel logo, with the square starting off as an empty gray logo to begin with, but gradually filling with its trademark red color as Smiley executes combos on his enemies. Once the Twisted Pixel logo has been filled, Smiley can call in a “Help Me,” a screen-clearing barrage of live-action punches and kicks that eliminates all enemies, culminating with the face of the almighty Frank (one of Twisted Pixel’s founders) floating across the screen.

With that wave of enemies cleared, the camera view shifted. Suddenly, instead of beating up everything within reach, a targeting reticule has appeared on screen and Smiley uses it to blast away a group of enemies taking shots at him from the background; providing a slice of gameplay similar to old school SHMUP games. After clearing another hallway, a rope fell from the ceiling, and once again our play style changed. As Smiley climbed the rope, using his blaster to shoot at flying enemies on either side, we felt like we’re playing Contra with prettier graphics and tighter controls. At the top of the rope, we met our death several times while juggling the needs of shooting flying enemies and jumping from pipe to pipe. Clearly, we’ll need to be improving our Comic Jumper skills. In the interest of time, we zipped ahead to take a look at one of the manga levels.

Smiley probably isn’t too happy about finding himself in the girls’ love manga “Cutie Cutie Cute Cupids,” but gamers should enjoy the pitch-perfect recreation of manga at its most absurd. These levels are rendered in black and white to match the style of the comics, and, like traditional manga is meant to be read, the levels scroll from right to left. Without spoiling anything for manga fans, if you can think of any long-running manga cliches, the odds are good ol’ Twisted Pixel has parodied them in these levels. We took our long-haired Smiley down a hall, slashing our way through a throng of school girls, before having a shootout against an army of ghosts in the school’s gymnasium with the aid of Smiley’s bubble and heart shooting guns. Did it make any sense? Of course not, but it felt so right.

The HUD in Comic Jumper is deliberately limited so as not to disrupt the impression that gamers are looking at a panel from a comic book. Besides the Twisted Pixel logo that appears while building up for a “Help Me,” Smiley’s health will show up as a comic panel of its own in the upper left corner, but only when he takes a hit. This health box looks different in each comic universe, in keeping with its respective art style. As Smiley takes damage, his health panel begins to fade away, as if he’s being erased from the comic.

Everything we’ve seen leads us to believe Comic Jumper is set to match the standard of excellence set by Twisted Pixel with The Maw and 'Splosion Man. The Austin based developer has taken their off-beat sense of humor and paired it up well with four distinctive art and gameplay styles that seamlessly transitions from beat ‘em up to shooter to action platformer and more, bringing back fond memories of similar retro titles every step of the way.

Comic Jumper is set to release on October 6th for 1,200 Microsoft Points.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 22
Comment #1 by sumthingchronic
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 01:25:06 AM
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Gonna pick this game up, splosion man was a great game, the maw was ok-ish.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #2 by menoknow88
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 01:57:01 AM
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i wonder if this is going to be like the old sega game comic zone?

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #3 by Zz R3L3NTL3S zZ
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 02:15:12 AM
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This game looks pretty good,Looks like it could be one of the arcade greats.

Forum Posts: 417
Comment #4 by d00gler
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 02:22:49 AM
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Too early to crown it an "arcade great", but hopefully it's worth the $10-$15 it will cost!

Forum Posts: 38
Comment #5 by Kroesis
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 04:25:54 AM
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I've seen some gameplay of it, pretty funny it was too. I'll probably pick this up on release.

Forum Posts: 1033
Comment #6 by metallicorphan
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 04:36:59 AM
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yeah i am so in for this

trailer here...looks great

see that it says avatar unlocks and themes etc

Forum Posts: 17
Comment #7 by blinksmilewink
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 04:41:04 AM
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I will no doubt like this game, but it will inevitably be on DoTW, so I'll wait

Forum Posts: 467
Comment #8 by NawtyCawty
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 04:46:45 AM
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Would have been a must buy if it wasnt 1200 points. Fuck that will wait for DOTW in about 2 years lol.

Forum Posts: 813
Comment #9 by XxStuartxX 1990
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 04:47:29 AM
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looks good ill try the trial then decide. twisted pixel are great dev's when it comes to arcade maybe the best but recently alot of amazing games have been released on the arcade so we will see if they are able to keep up

Forum Posts: 468
Comment #10 by GDMFS0AB
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 05:33:09 AM
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I'm a big fan of twisted pixel. Spolsion man was amazing

I think this looks totally balls though! Captain smiley! The character is just lame looking.

I hope it plays well.

Forum Posts: 44
Comment #11 by Phool
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 05:55:53 AM
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Forum Posts: 418
Comment #12 by mailmanchris
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 06:03:37 AM
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After 'splosion Man, this is an absolute 1st day buy.

Oh and for my brother... 12th

Forum Posts: 137
Comment #13 by Voxael
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 07:43:15 AM
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I absolutely adored 'Splosion Man. Still need to pick up the Maw though.

Comic Jumper though has been a must buy since I heard about it months ago. Can't wait.

Forum Posts: 20706
Comment #14 by Barad
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 08:00:36 AM
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this looks pretty cool though I never actually played Splosion Man..

Forum Posts: 3580
Comment #15 by guillermo316
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 08:56:29 AM
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must buy i hope it isn't like shank~!

Forum Posts: 2099
Comment #16 by mjc0961
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 09:32:44 AM
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Well, it should be able to take solace in the fact that no matter what happens, it can't be any worse than the snore-fest known as Splosion Man.

How are they going to do an accurate demo for this, though? Does most of this game play one way and the stuff like SHUMP and Contra style playing make up a smaller chunk?

Forum Posts: 477
Comment #17 by iNf3Rn0 Lan
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 11:11:33 AM
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This game looks VERY promising. Will likely get it day one. Can't wait!

Forum Posts: 38
Comment #18 by Kroesis
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 11:29:59 AM
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@10 I believe his looks and name were intentionally done like that, not only for the fun of it but it probably also ties in with the reason why his own comic isn't doing so well.

Forum Posts: 143
Comment #19 by wolfzero01
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 12:52:47 PM
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I enjoyed splosion man, so this is a definite purchase

Forum Posts: 60
Comment #20 by slaptarze
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 01:37:58 PM
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remember when games were 400 points, okay it was sega stuff but they sold well. 800 points wasnt bad for most games but throw an avatar t-shirt unlock in and you can ask for another 400 points. Oh and add a prop that your avatar reaches for and it moves away, then he smiles. Yup everything is 1200 points since summer of extortion

Forum Posts: 239
Comment #21 by SuperWoody64
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 01:46:18 PM
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I agree that this game doesn't warrant the $15 pricetag. I'm sure it's funny and whatnot but whatever.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #22 by asilent boom
Saturday, September 11, 2010 @ 09:22:21 PM
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I'll put this on my waiting for the DotW list with Deathspank, Hydro Thunder, Plants Vs Zombies, Shank, and Monday Night Combat.

Forum Posts: 20
Comment #23 by Riverlution
Sunday, September 12, 2010 @ 04:27:17 AM
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I think Twisted Pixel along with The Behemoth are quickly becoming the Gods of XBLA in my books.

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #24 by Kortexx
Sunday, September 12, 2010 @ 04:44:36 AM
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Must buy for sure, really loved splosion man and the maw =D

Forum Posts: 116
Comment #25 by AlmightyTallest
Sunday, September 12, 2010 @ 06:48:10 AM
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@22: Right there with ya. Great games, all, but not for $15. I miss the old XBLA prices.

Forum Posts: 20
Comment #26 by markmacmark
Sunday, September 12, 2010 @ 08:04:28 AM
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I'm gonna start saving right now

Forum Posts: 46
Comment #27 by xtkbilly
Sunday, September 12, 2010 @ 06:58:18 PM
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Forum Posts: 91
Comment #28 by lemlem360
Sunday, September 12, 2010 @ 09:18:23 PM
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LOVE! Twisted Pixel games

Forum Posts: 292
Comment #29 by MCDime2
Monday, September 13, 2010 @ 02:57:21 AM
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day one purchase!

Forum Posts: 99
Comment #30 by rancidmunkey
Monday, September 13, 2010 @ 03:14:37 AM
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This game looks awesome! If its half as much fun as splosion man it should be well worth getting.

Forum Posts: 64
Comment #31 by Sceneman
Monday, September 13, 2010 @ 06:20:41 AM
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lol, so stoked about the Timecop and Demolition Man parodies. Friggn genius

Forum Posts: 61
Comment #32 by killieexile
Monday, September 13, 2010 @ 09:55:31 AM
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@15 What the matter with shank? it's a bloody good game except for the kill bill story line

Forum Posts: 80
Comment #33 by Dathcha
Monday, September 13, 2010 @ 05:34:54 PM
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Is the "Violations for acts of Comic Obscenity" really a reference to Demolition Man? I thought it was a historical reference to the silver age of comics (fitting) being censored by the Comics Code Authority.

Forum Posts: 14
Comment #34 by beebs720
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 @ 01:40:39 PM
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If the demo is a win, I will be picking this up immediately.

Tough to top Twisted Pixel for affordable gaming goodness.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #35 by spacebox1947
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 08:17:30 AM
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Huge fan of Twisted Pixel's games. Can't wait for this!

Forum Posts: 291
Comment #36 by ViNyLek
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 12:18:28 PM
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Loved Maw and Splosion Man and got them both on day one. This looks like it won't be any different^^ I wonder why they didn't come up with more levels for SM via DLC though. Seems like wasted opportunity....

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #37 by Richie Rich
Sunday, September 19, 2010 @ 01:31:42 AM
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great game

Forum Posts: 373
Comment #38 by Sgt Scyther
Friday, September 24, 2010 @ 01:37:07 AM
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I found 'Splosion Man to be overrated. It was a really fun game but it goes on for WAAAAAAYYYYY longer than it has to. That said, I'm really really excited for Comic Jumper.

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Game Info
Twisted Pixel
Twisted Pixel


US October 06, 2010

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