Jump King | Review

Let’s talk about masochism. The receiving of pleasure from being humiliated and hurt. Some people pay a lot of money to get a slice; most people tend to avoid it. Most right-thinking individuals, at least. 

There are a few though, who are quite happy with being on the receiving end. You know who you are, you dirty feckers. People who like playing Dark Souls, for example, or people who still support Spurs, or continue watching The Walking Dead in the vain hope it’ll get good again.

But if we’re talking about frustrating and painful games alone, I think we’ve just crowned a new king. A Jump King, if you will.

You only have to look at reaction videos on YouTube, with titles like ‘Jump King Rage’ or ‘Lol Streamers losing their minds at Jump King’ to get a taste of what a divisive, mental-stability-threatening game this can be. It’s monstrous.

In brief, then: an 8-bit looking, NES-styled platform game, you control the eponymous king, who has to jump vertically to reach the top of the level. You can’t control the king’s inertia midair, and the direction has to be set before the jump activates.

There are about four or five levels of jump you perform (of different heights) all using a singular button, and modulated by how long you hold the button down before release.

Success or failure in your climb to the top is entirely down to how well you can guess, or intuit, your jumping arc. So in a way it’s more like a puzzle game than it is a platform game. Well… it’s a puzzle game if you consider stripping out the logic and easily-repeated actions those games have and replacing them with pure chaos, to be a puzzle game.

To say this is a rage-inducing experience is to do rage induction a disservice. For

every endorphin release you get from completing a seemingly impossible jump — and one in three feels impossible right from the start — there’s a downside, where failure drives you absolutely bananas.

Why, you ask? Because if you misplace a landing by a handful of pixels, you don’t necessarily fall down a level or two… you can fall all the way to the bottom and have to start again. It’s the video game equivalent of those electrified puzzle games, where one slip of the hand and zzZZZzzt… buzzer goes off, game over.

Now, this isn’t a mistake. This isn’t a design failure. This is deliberate. It’s a game purposefully built to drive you absolutely bat-guano-loopy.

For me, it drove me to the point of insanity and then straight over it over the course of around fifteen minutes. I can’t tell you the level of anger and frustration and controller-smashing vitriol I felt towards this thing. My brain was stewing in poisonous chemicals. 

That said, to call this game a failure would be a huge mistake, and doing designers Nexile a disservice. This is a very clever game. It is purpose-built as a torture chamber, and Nexile are all-too aware that anyone who pits themselves against its challenge is just as likely to nope out of it as they are to accept the relentless brutality, in search of victory and major bragging rights.

Man, I’m done. I’m out. Check out video clips, see what it’s like to play. See if you can cope with a pitch of psychological cruelty that will have most people twisting their controllers into beautiful, abstract new shapes. Good luck, and get those tranqs on standby.

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