Sawbuck Gamer



Bump reduces running and jumping to a frame-by-frame film session.

By Matt Kodner • March 29, 2013

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

At one point in the early Simpsons episode “Krusty Gets Busted,” Kent Brockman rolls a “blooper” of Krusty The Clown having a brutal, pork-induced heart attack live on air. The first day my family got a DVD player, that bit was played over and over again. We figured out we could watch frame-by-frame and marveled at each painful contortion of Krusty’s face. At that moment, I realized how exciting a world can be when you view it a single frame at a time. Bump is a tricky game that holds this philosophy near and dear to its heart.

As a blocky little fellow with a penchant for flipping, you navigate a stage full of spikes—both stationary spikes and spikes that patrol their grounds. The catch is that you move one animation frame at a time. Instead of hoping your jump takes you exactly where you need to go, you are in complete control of your trajectory. While it resembles a turn-based dungeon crawler, Bump is deeply rooted in the conventions of Super Mario Bros. Bonking your head on a block above you breaks it and drops any bonuses or obstacles. You can even barrel over gaps with a confident dash forward.

Deconstructing the Mario Bros. style of play down to a precise science results in a thrilling, tactical game suited for quick spurts of play. Platforming in frames turns out to be as exciting as watching a clown’s exaggerated death rattle bit by bit. Only, in Bump, you likely won’t survive your slow-mo brush with death.

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5 Responses to “Frame-Up”

  1. Steve McCoy says:

    This game is hard. Sometimes it’s just a bad level, but more often than not, it’s because I’m trying to play it like a normal platformer, expecting to be able to improv my way out of any badly-planned jumps.

    My best score so far is 8530.

    • Nathan Avant says:

      The best I’ve been able to hit is 4060. It definitely has that feeling that every death is ultimately your own fault that the best roguelikes have. Unfortunately it also has the frequently unpassable levels that the worst roguelikes have. It’s mitigated quite a bit by the speed of restarting, but it still grates a bit when it happens.

      • Steve McCoy says:

        Yeah, the level generator seems to be a bit bad. It definitely doesn’t seem to account for the funky hit detection on the enemies — the game seems to check both where they are and where they’re going, if that makes any sense.

  2. Blair Hurley says:

    I am absolutely addicted! I managed to get over 18 000 by getting extremely lucky. I really enjoy the mechanics, and I’d actually really, really like to see this taken further!

  3. Eco1970 says:

    lol that was bizarrely entertaining for a few minutes.