Sawbuck Gamer


Don’t Let It Keep You Down

When jumping is outlawed, only outlaws will J-J-Jump.

By Derrick Sanskrit • July 31, 2012

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free of cheap ($10 or less) game.

We’ve been spoiled. The likes of Mario, Sonic, and Mega Man have trained us to believe that running and jumping are a given. That they are somehow the two inalienable rights of video game heroes. In the late ’80s, Bionic Commando was daring enough to remove the ability to jump, yet fan outcry pressured Capcom into tacking that extra bit of lower body strength back into recent Commando installments. What happens, though, when jumpability is limited, rather than removed outright?

This is the question posed by J-J-Jump, the new ultra-low-fi retro platformer from Nitrome, a game so simple in its design that it can be played entirely within the 50-by-50 pixel icon for the game. In J-J-Jump, the hero’s jumps are treated more like ammunition for a weapon. Each hop you take is one less jump you can take later. Thank goodness there’s replenishing jump juice splattered here and there, along with checkpoints to top off your stock of five vaults.

The 10 levels of J-J-Jump are a smooth and concise experiment in restricted freedom, introducing new obstacles and trickier leaps with each screen. The first seven or eight levels will breeze by with hardly a thought or concern, but the final level is a gauntlet of traps where missing a single jump means watching your own rainbow-tinted destruction. It’s a quick and cheery expression of how much we take the simple act of hopping for granted. We never appreciate what we’ve got until it’s gone.

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119 Responses to “Don’t Let It Keep You Down”

  1. EnderTZero says:

    I enjoy these browser game writeups.

    Now, if only I could get the damn thing to load…

  2. Aaron Riccio says:

    I was going to say that I’m only spoiled in the sense that having played all these previous platformers made J-J-Jump seem a little easy by comparison. And then I got to that final stretch in Level 10, when the checkpoints go away, and I realized, oh, no, they were just being generous. It’s such a simple minimalist concept, I really wish they’d continue with it, but then again, I love difficult levels and the game ended just as it was getting tough. 

    That said, how about a list of games with totally bizarre “stories” — I think what’s happening here is that the world is flooding and your only hope is to get noticed by some passing would-be alien abductors.