By: Derek Yu

On: February 20th, 2009


For being a platformer called “”http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=4821.msg156004#msg156004">Jumpman," this is one of the freshest games I’ve played recently. The most obvious comparison is messhof’s Punishment series, but this feels much more multidimensional (in more ways than one). There are some really interesting ideas at play here, and some of the best ones are in the later stages.

To quote the author:

The hope is to try to make you believe that every 2600-era platformer would have looked like this if only you’d pulled the camera back about 4 feet. Like, every old game had something where you could walk off one side of the screen and suddenly appear on the other, right? What was actually happening there? Did space in the world where Pac-Man lives just happen to loop back on itself every ten feet? What would happen if you just took the camera and turned it a little bit to the right, would you see Pac-Man duplicated every 10 feet stretching off into the distance forever…?

Jumpman makes me think that being a character in an Atari game is like being a character in the movie Cube. Disturbing!

TIGdb: Entry for Jumpman

  • Pragma

    “like being a character in the movie Cube.”


  • Blueberry_pie

    I beat the entire game in one go. Very disorienting at times but that makes it even cooler. Awesome game!

  • http://www.roachpuppy.com IceNine

    Cool idea, I had fun playing it. A couple things I observed though:

    1. More variety in surface friction (i.e. less icey).

    2. There seemed to be a dependency on framerate for game speed rather than a fixed timestep. Also, performance was way faster windowed than it was fullscreen for some reason.

    3. Death is meaningless and the game is less challenging if you have infinite lives.

    4. There were a few levels or times after I respawn after dying where I would spawn on top of an enemy and die right away.

  • cactus

    Awesome. The walk cycle for the player could’ve looked a bit better, and I agree that it’s a bit icy friction wise, but overall I loved it. Almost gave me a migraine after a while so I had to quit, but I’ll definitely play more later.

  • http://www.idlecode.net d3sphil


  • undertech

    Jumpman Lives!

  • reeehhh

    Pretty creative idea, nice job.

    As for iceNine’s issue with infinite lives, I think that’s an problem a lot of indie developers deal with. Dying in a video game seems tied to the days when you paid for lives at an arcade with quarters, it made sense (economicly, at least) that in old arcade games if you stood still for one second, you got killed. Having a character get killed (making you re-start the level or section) increases tension and adds to the sense of urgency to get your character through without being harmed.

    But in some cases, dying in a game can seems arbitrary. I undertand the idea giving you a limited number of chances to complete a goal, to make something challenging. But I like it when a game explores having no ‘deaths’ or ‘game overs’ in a creative way (even in a simple 2D game). How do you make taking damage a detriment to the player if there’s no death in the game? How do you keep the game exciting if the player isn’t at risk of dying? Some games deal with this by not letting you advance without completing a goal, so that you don’t die, but you are stuck from moving on in the game until you figure out what to do.

    Sure it wouldn’t work in a game like N+ or Braid, where there’s an emphasis on tackling a level without dying, but I personally like it when an action platform game operates like a racing game, where you can’t die or disqualify, but you are rewarded for completing the stage as fast as possible while taking as little damage as possible.

  • mcc

    Hi guys!

    Icenine: Thanks for the feedback, a couple thoughts: The thing about dying being meaningless was actually very intentional. The hope is that by making dying only a very light punishment, that left me free to make the individual challenges much, much harder. The emphasis is less on surviving and more on just getting through at all. (I was trying to sort of recreate in maybe a more easygoing way the feeling I get when I play sadistic romhacks with savestates.) Things like the situation you mention where you can die at the same time you spawn would just be totally out of the question if the lives counter meant something. As it is you die a LOT in Jumpman, like an average player seems to require hundreds of lives to get to the end, so if there was a limited number of lives I’m not sure anyone would ever beat it. :) The game does track the number of times you die and there is a sort of high score board, so hopefully some kind of incentive to play the game without dying is reintroduced that way…

    As for the framerate thing, this is something that worries me, the game is supposed to run at full FPS all the time but I’m not sure this is true in practice. There are definitely some situations that cause slowdown, I tried to keep those situations from occuring in the main game but I dunno how well I succeeded.

  • mcc

    Thanks all for the comments and thanks for featuring the game on your site!

  • Advenith

    I haven’t finished it yet, but this is great stuff. I love the concept and the visual execution.

  • http://www.roachpuppy.com IceNine

    I was probably too quick to judge on the lives thing. Now that I think about it a bit more, the challenge in the game is in getting through each level alive (ala N+ as reehh pointed out). Adding a lives limit might be superficial in this game.

    Drop me a line if you need help with the framerate thing. I look forward to finishing the game when I get home from work :)

  • wourme

    Very nice work. In this particular game, some of the things I might normally see as flaws (some of which have been pointed out by others) seem to fit.

  • Duckmeister

    Derek, this is now the third time within 2 months you have made a Cube reference. I call shenanigans.

  • Fuzz

    I saw the topic on the forums and immediately played it. Wow.

  • wourme

    I have no idea what to do on that “Hope” level. I’ll have to develop some additional patience before my next attempt.

  • Sisyfos

    The game seems interesting, but i just can’t stand the controls! It’s waaaay to slippery and the fact that you gain speed in mid air is annoying. Is there a reason to this that i’m missing? It really ruins the game for me.

  • http://rockstarramblings.blogspot.com/ Bronze Dog

    Wonderful game. And yeah, it takes a bit of time to get used to the slippy-slidey ice world.

    Current point of stuckness: Second level of Path 6. Can’t do anything with the ball o’ death. Can’t quite make it past the enemies intact.

  • http://rockstarramblings.blogspot.com/ Bronze Dog

    Well, I beat it all. Nicely done game. Paint levels were weird.

  • Skofo

    Where is the Linux version?

  • Peevish

    The game being incredibly slippery is part of the challenge; some levels would be incredibly easy in Mario but here are impossibly hard. Stick it out a bit, as the game goes on it really suits it. I love this thing.

  • jimmykane

    Skofo: The game runs perfectly in Wine for me. The guy said on his website that he’s working on a Linux version.

  • desertmajava

    Jumpman is… intensely experimental (also incredible gameplay-wise). The games industry really needs games like this in order for people to take it seriously and consider games a form of art. It plays excellenty and breaks the conventions of platformers wonderfully, but at the same time it’s also mesmerizinly hypnotic and minimalistic visually. Even the sounds are top-notch, the objects create their own little melodies and songs when they bounce across the levels and bump into each other and the characters. Truly a multi-tiered masterpiece.

  • Ilia Chentsov

    The difference between games and art is that we don’t need to beat art to appreciate it.

  • Vanguard

    This game is great!

  • captain_duck

    I played this through earlier today and i loved it. Great game, worth a shot. Would like to see more of this actually.

  • Therum

    Awesome game. It gave me a serious Flywrench-style vibe, which is a very good thing.

  • http://rmvx.gameclover.com RMVX

    Pretty intense looking game. Is it the sort that would give motion sickness? Kinda scared to give it a try

  • mcc

    RMVX, I did get at least one report of motion sickness when you get to the repeaty levels. If it becomes a problem there is a feature in the options screen labeled “tone down background” that *should* help with that though.

  • Super anon

    Holy jumping Jesus those later levels are aggravating.

  • Vanguard

    RMVX: I don’t see any reason why it would cause motion sickness. It’s a 2d platformer, and initially the only twist is that the player can rotate the playing field. The level design and gameplay are a lot of fun, and it throws in a lot of new twists as you progress that keep it fresh and interesting. Give it a shot!

  • Krux

    for all Linux Users

    this game uses SDL insted of Game Maker => it runs perfectly in WINE

  • Jay

    great use of sound and dimension…. but frustrating controls – the slippery surface combinded with moon physics are totaly frustrating ( at least to me)

  • nuin

    This game is great, not just good! No wonder this has made the rounds of just about every gaming blog. Bravo, mcc, get ye to the IGF with this game.

    Jumpman plays great and the level design is a lot of fun, the way new ideas and mechanics are introduced, especially when the ‘bomb’ power-up and the ‘color changing’ levels come into play!

    This game really achieves its goal of mixing old-school 2D gameplay with next-gen features.

    I like that the game is self-contained and has an ending, which makes going through the levels more rewarding. The record-keeping ups the replay value nicely. Now mcc needs to get going on a new level pack with the same game engine. And let’s get a server going for level sharing! (And while we’re at it, get this on the wiiware, PSN, and XBLA!)

    The ‘slipperiness’ took getting used to at first, but it works as part of the game. I used a controller, which really makes the game play better (just map the ‘rotate stage’ effect to the shoulder buttons)

  • Lyx

    Only improvement which i could think of (besides of the slippery issue) is autogenerated levels. Sure, there are more than enough levels builtin, but i think it may be even more interesting, if the levels we’re randomly generated… but considering that some of the appeal of the game comes from how the levels are designed, it may be difficult to create a good algo for that.

    Really, i fully agree with what someone else said: MORE GAMES LIKE THIS! :-)

  • Shih Tzu

    Postmodern platformer. Neat.

    So much of this is wonderful (the color levels were frustrating but fair). My biggest gripe has to do with what happens when jumping meets physics. Many times when you’re on an unsteady surface (the level where the hunters push the blocks around on the bottom comes to mind) jumping doesn’t function properly, probably because the game thinks you’re briefly in midair. Jumping off of a 45-degree surface is also quite difficult because any movement down the slope threatens to break your contact with the ground.

    There were several spots that seemed too frustrating, although I eventually made it to the end, so they couldn’t have been that hard, I suppose. And turning death into just an inconvenient teleport was rather brilliant.

    The crazy levels are the best, and I’d say this game is at least 40% crazy. I am glad this exists.