Don’t get me wrong I like a challenge. I like to be frustrated to a certain extent with videogames. Who doesn’t? Obviously being a ‘Midlife Gamer’ I will always remember Saturday evenings, sitting crossed legged in front of the TV, shouting at the frog in Frogger; “Come on!” I would scream “Stop messing about and jump!” but there would always be a horrific case of road kill, or mistiming a jump in Sonic and landing on a crab’s claw only to see your rings spill out in every direction. Ah, those where the days.
Jump N Roll is, when you take away the smooth graphics and quite impressive music, an old school game at heart. Like Frogger it feeds that repetitive, ‘get to the end of the level’ urge. Yet with its coin and diamond collecting, it reminded me of a stressful Sonic game as well. What it also incorporates is the use of two dimensions of platforms to work across, much like Little Big Planet, with a foreground and background route. As the screen progresses to the right and you struggle to keep up, your character (which I can’t even begin to describe. A flaming lion’s head perhaps?) can choose to work on the easier path at the front of the screen or, take the high road at the back, where the challenge is far greater.
It’s a free title, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t spend money. This is one of those titles that allows, no scratch that, encourages you to spend your money on upgrades through the purchase of Pink Diamonds through the App Store. These diamonds offer such things as extra lives, instant access to locked levels and other upgrade items. Purchasing diamonds from the App store as we all know can be expensive and, sometimes, take the fun out of the game. It acts like a quick ladder to the top rather than working your way there on your own accord. Why miss the grind? Well, one reason would be to beat most of the annoyance out of the game. And I found this game annoying.
Ultimate frustration in videogames nowadays comes in the form of such games as Trails HD or Super Meat Boy. The fundamentals are all solid and the frustrations come from intentional mechanics. Yet I now find myself getting stressed with many videogames recently for dropping the ball on elements that we should have perfected by now. In Jump N Roll’s case it’s the controls that really let it down.
Many people’s biggest bugbear with iOS games is that the controls, well, don’t control. Even more so if you are playing on an iPhone or iPod touch. And with Jump N Roll, a game I otherwise enjoyed, this issue with controls ruins the entire experience. Even more upsetting is how simple the control are and should therefore function; two buttons on either side of the screen. Tap on the left hand side to jump, tap the other to ‘boost’. This would normally completely eliminate the clumsiness that is directions but I found them consistently unresponsive. Additionally, because there are no visible buttons to press, I found myself pressing anywhere on that side of the screen thus adding to the confusion.
Yet saying all this I did enjoy the game. Sure the Pink Diamond business model can be intrusive, asking if you want to buy things from the App Store, and yes it was unresponsive therefore I died a lot. And yes, the main menu leaves a lot to be desired. But, it pushed the old school gamer urges that I liked to get pushed now and then.
Jump N Roll is worth downloading. I would even pay between 60p to £1.50 for it if that would mean less aggressive selling of the diamonds. The graphics are also hugely impressive, complimented by some truly hypnotic music. Getting caught up in coin collecting and landing those perfect jumps is a compelling experience but the controls threaten to completely undermine the fun.
MLG Rating: 6/10 Platform: iOS Release Date: 11/12/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Jump N Roll for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an iPhone. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.