Jasper’s Journeys Released! (at long last)

By: ARelativelyHotGirl

On: February 22nd, 2008

Jasper's Journeys

For the longest time, Lexaloffle (the one-man indie developer of Zen Puzzle Garden and Chocolate Castle) has been taunting the internet with an enticing animated gif of his then upcoming game Jasper’s Journeys. After a long development time, the game has finally been released today: for Mac OSX and Windows.

Jasper’s Journeys is a decidedly retro experience, and while playing the demo, one is reminded of the flavor of Apogee shareware games from the past. There are gems, keys and power-ups to collect, and the difficulty seems unforgiving – you end up restarting a lot.

The graphics and sounds are very appealing, in the fine tradition of all the Lexaloffle games.

  • anon

    Great sprites, great feel to the jumping physics. Fun, old fashioned platformer.

  • Stwelin

    augh. installer.

  • Julius

    Indie games break my wallet.

  • Zeno

    I’m too broke for it.

  • Space Ranger

    The background art is lovely but the foreground tiles colours look odd to me :(

  • Captain Bible

    Cave Story rip-off.

  • http://www.planetfreeplay.com Mosh

    I enjoyed it. Lots of cute, little touches (like knocking the helmet off the enemies) and secrets to find.

  • Kenzya

    Ahh this is very much a callback to old PC platformers. But aaaah, I don’t think this is worth $20 to me.

  • Zulgaines

    Call me when it’s $10

  • gameboy

    I wish I met the system requirements.

  • Drum


  • Zaphos

    It really is a throwback to play this! The sprawling random levels are charming :D

  • gameboy

    It has a very good feel, I kinda like the sparse sound thing it has going, but a few more tunes at appropriate times could help.

    Also more parallax, maybe some alpha effects, and less rigid tree placement could really improve the environment.

    Anybody what that algorithm is for the screen transition effect? I’ve seen it all over.

  • Paul Eres

    Okay, I played through the demo and I kind of agree that it isn’t worth $20 (although I should be wary of saying that of course because people have said the same thing about my game). The main thing is that the controls are a too floaty, it doesn’t tell you how many levels the full game has (the demo has only 3), and it doesn’t have anything interesting that 100 freeware platformers don’t have too; in particular the story isn’t that interesting and there’s no real music.

    The pixel art is very nice though, he has a good grasp of color, but the gameplay is a strange mix of too easy (just going around picking stuff up) and too hard (especially some of the jumps due to the bad controls). Which is a shame cause I really liked Chocolate Castle and was hoping for good things from this game, so I was fairly disappointed.

    (Why are the controls so floaty, why? If that were fixed that’d improve the game drastically, but it can’t even be fixed anymore because all the levels and bosses were likely made with those controls in mind and changing them now would change things too much.)

  • Plyr

    What a great game! I just love these retro style graphics. I give the game 10 out of 10.

  • Michael

    After enjoying the DOS-based original 10 years ago, it’s a pleasure to finally have a go at this expanded and reworked Windows version.

    For Paul above, the floatiness goes hand-in-hand with the character of Jasper himself. He’s a light fellow with a big spring in his step. Especially when the original came out and there was little beyond the Apogee games to compare it to, the different movement and fluid animation really distinguished Jasper from the typical PC platformer.

    With such a rich choice of excellent platformers today, many free, Jasper may not be able to stand out among them, but for us old-timers who enjoyed the first journey with Jasper, it’s nice to see Lexaloffle bring him back.

  • gameboy

    The story is similar to Lyle in Cube Sector.

    And Jasper is a guy?

  • Zaphos

    Paul — fwiw, the final game has 15 levels.

  • moi

    I’m a big lexaloffl’fan, but this is not a very good platformer.
    Not interestring enough to generate the will to go forward against the rigid controls and the uninspired levels.
    There are much better freeware options. Including Cave story that the author ripped off.

  • Lila Chestnut

    There’s a good chance that the original DOS Jasper’s Journeys (1999) came out before Cave Story. (2004)

  • moi


  • Paul Eres

    If the controls were intended to be nostalgic I guess that’s okay and understandable, but it shouldn’t be expected that people who aren’t used to that system will be able to control the game very well. And the controls in old PC platform games were pretty bad; but even Jazz Jackrabbit was easier to control for me than this game.

    Considering that it took me 15 minutes to get through the 3 levels (about 5 minutes each) that means if the level length is somewhat consistent the full game would only take me an hour and 15 minutes to complete.

    So for me the three biggest turn-offs are the controls, the lack of music, and how short the full game seems to be; if it had 100 levels, a sound track, and the controls had more friction I’d definitely consider buying it. I didn’t mean that the game itself is bad though, I’m sure some people will enjoy it, it’s just that considering how much content and polish Chocolate Castle had this seems like he didn’t put as much work into it as with that game.

  • Joseph White

    I’m Jasper’s coder. Thanks everyone for trying the game and posting about it. I thought you might like the author’s perspective on a few of these points..

    – Slippery/floaty physics. Yes, this is a common complaint. Of course, I’ve tried ‘fixing’ the coefficients so that the movement feels more familiar/easier, but it destroys what I like about the game. Having inertia gives a larger space of possible situations to deal with. The player has to anticipate, make richer judgments about what’s going to happen and how to react to it. It also gives the player more freedom with practice — you can leap through awkward bullet formations at just the right height, shoot back the way you came from without stopping in mid-air, etc. (these kinds of maneuvers are required later in the game). This is a matter of preference too, of course — I like games like Elastomania, Soldat and Liero for the same kind of reasons.

    – Story. Not every game needs to be driven by a narrative, surely. I think in Jasper’s case, developing a story would just add noise to the game. So this one is just a simple rescue premise — an excuse to go frolicking around bashing up monsters with style. We were toying with the idea of not even having text and doing a homage to the Ghosts and Goblins intro.

    – Trivia: I’m usually a solo developer, but this is the first Lexaloffle release with 3 crew. I wrote the code, my brother John handled pixels and maps, and Tomas Pettersson (Dr. Petter) did the sound effects. The game was originally released for DOS in 1997. We pitched it to Epic Megagames in 1996 thinking it was a Jill of the Jungle killer. Ha!

    – Music. Agreed about it needing a few more tunes in some places — we’re working on that for the next version. I don’t like music blaring away the whole time though. I’m a fan of incidental music which punctuates key moments.

    – Transition effect: 1. Make a sequence of 16×16 tiles, starting with a black dot in the middle and growing to fill the tile. 2. Fill the whole screen with tiles, choosing each tile from the set with:
    `dist = MAX( ABS(tile_x – screen_tiles_width/2), ABS(tile_y – screen_tiles_height/2) );
    tile_index = MID(0, time_into_fade * fade_speed + dist * fade_range, MAX_TILES);`

    – Yes, Jasper’s a dude. That purple thing flailing behind him is his hat. But if you prefer to think of him as a girl with long purple hair, that’s fine by us. For $20, he’ll be whatever you want him to be.

    – Alpha shmalpha.

  • Joseph


  • Benzido

    I think I understand the high concept of this game, but even back in 1997 it was true that platformers needed a gameplay hook. Sonic has one (keep moving without stopping) and even the original Mario has one (bounce on your enemies). I’m kind of surprised that the developer went on to make Zen Puzzle Garden, which has a sublime hook, when this game is like eating plain rice cakes.

  • dustin

    the original mario’s hook was it was the most revolutionary game of all time more likely?