Beneath the goofy name and ridiculous box art, Jumping Flash 2 is a tight-playing 3D platformer/FPS, and one of my new favourite games on the Playstation 1. I actively avoided this game for years because it looked so awful. What the hell is a Jumping Flash? Is that the rabbit thing on the cover? Why is the does the title font evoke the 1800’s? There just wasn’t anything there to pull me away from Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo, or Grand Theft Auto at the time.
Luckily, life is full of second chances and Sony has been capitalizing on its catalogue of low-poly PS1 classics by making them available on Playstation Network. So nearly 20 years after its release, here’s that review of Jumping Flash 2 you’ve been waiting for…
The first thing to note is that this game screams “90’s”! From the graphics to the voice acting and silly cutscenes, it harkens back to a time when game companies were coming to grips with what “next gen” gaming could be. It took me a while to sink into the game and stop noticing all of the primitive shapes and pixelated textures, but once I got over it, I realized how much fun I was having.
You play from a first person perspective, blasting baddies from inside a robotic rabbit called Robbit. Actually, I’m not 100% sure if you ARE Robbit, or if you pilot him… either way, the effect is the same. Robbit has a standard gun weapon, and a variety of special weapons that can be picked up along the way. Robbit’s other special ability is jumping. You can double and triple jump to higher platforms and across open space, as well as coming down on enemies to crush them Mario-style. This is significant because the jumping mechanic is often cited as Jumping Flash’s crowning achievement.
You better toast his buns before he gets up in your grill!
The difficulty in creating a 3D platformer on a 2D screen is in giving the player a sense of depth perception, and Jumping Flash nails it. As you come down from a high jump, your point of view tilts down to show you where you’re headed, and Robbit’s shadow provides an aiming mechanism. It’s extremely easy to land Robbit’s bunny feet on an enemy’s head, or on a tiny floating platform in the middle of open space. It’s this confidence-inspiring sense of control that makes the game so fun to explore. The only thing that’s missing is the ability to strafe (i.e.. move laterally while still facing forward), but it’s not a deal-breaker.
The goal of each stage is to rescue the four Muu-Muus and hit the Exit. Obviously, Muu-Muus are the aliens that you’re trying to rescue from Baron Aloha and Captain Kabuki, using your robotic bunny suit. As I mentioned, the story and characters are all over-the-top surreal and cartoony, but it’s part of what makes the game unique and charming, and ultimately memorable. There are also hidden bonus stages and Performance Medals to collect, such as “Complete a stage without shooting”.
The game is broken up into two halves, with 6 worlds per half, and 3 stages per world, including a boss battle. So there’s a good amount of gameplay, although many of the early levels are rather easy once you’ve mastered the controls. Most worlds are made up of levels of floating platforms, but there are some interior, DOOM-like levels to mix things up.
Jumping Flash 2 doing its best DOOM impersonation.
They say that converts become the loudest evangelists, and I find that to be true about myself. I thought I hated Jumping Flash until I actually played it, and now I want to tell the world about it! I was won over by spot-on controls and the wacky fun of the visual and audio presentation. If you’re a fan of FPS’s or mech games, and have an open mind, give this a try and imagine how awesome it must have seemed in the mid-90’s. And remember: never judge a game by its cover.