Party games aren’t for everyone. Local party games appeal to even less. So it doesn’t really matter what, when or how I talk about Jump Stars, as if you’re not down with the scene, or don’t have any like-minded mates to enjoy it with, then you’re probably not going to like the multitude of mini games that it brings.
But should you be in the market for a new party title that will bring together you and your crew as one, then Jump Stars is definitely worth a little look.
Set up with local multiplayer options only, if you’re a lone gamer, or only have friends who frequent the online world, you may as well turn away now as Jamit Games have given you nothing in their mini game powered party title.
There are only two game modes included in Jump Stars – a set tournament consisting of at least four randomly chosen mini games, with the chance of heading into the final Gauntlet afterwards, or a complete custom playlist option whereby you choose between one and nine of the available options.
The latter is pretty damn self explanatory, delivering a quick hit of fun whenever you need it, allowing gamers to decide whether they wish to spend 30 seconds or 30 minutes with what Jump Stars brings.
It is however the former which is the most exciting.
With a loud mouthed show host setting the scene and constantly praying for your demise, the Tournament mode puts you and your mates through their paces in whichever mini games Jump Stars happens to throw up. You may find yourself manically hitting the jump button in order to climb the screen, much like you’ll find with Doodle Jump, or heading the other way, smashing coloured obstacles in order to head south from the ever lowering death bringers Jamit have created.
You’ll also see yourself participating in pass the bomb games, pie eating contests, one in which platforms constantly fall away and more which have you jumping increasingly fast moving swinging arms of doom. Further game options see you needing to find the solace of a chiller as the entire level heats up, or dodging massive hulking rocks which do nothing but smash you to smithereens
No matter which mini game selection you get hit with though, the aim of the game is the same in each. Earn points. Lots of points.
You do this by working with your friends in order to stay alive as long as possible, jumping on your own coloured platforms as much as possible in order to increase your score. But as this is happening, you’ll also need to come out as top dog amongst your mates, punching and pushing them into oblivion when the time calls for it. The unique blend of team based play when mixed with the ‘winner takes all’ attitude is a great one and ensures that Jump Stars will bring many screams of both joy and despair from all quarters.
Those screams are amplified whenever one of the game changing cards rolls into view, with the screen turning upside down, flipping on its side, movement slowed or seeing the controls reversed. This obviously brings about a huge deal of confusion and sees your joyous little characters whizz around with little chance of proper control. They don’t come in as regularly as I’d like though, and occasionally you find yourself crying out for a bit of intervention from above.
At the end of each stage, points are totalled, medals awarded and bragging rights gifted. But the biggest draw and moment of tension will come about in your team’s quest for enough points to unlock the final run, the Gauntlet.
Whilst this is fully playable in the custom settings, the Gauntlet only unlocks at the end of the four mini games should your team have proven worthy enough of its entrance fee. It sees your characters slammed into a constantly scrolling left to right affair, complete with many an obstacle to get over. Get held up, or fall behind your companions and instant death will occur. It’ll be up to you and your team to progress through as many runs of the Gauntlet as possible, earning even more points in the process.
Once you’ve all fallen off the skill cliff though, the game will end, a total score will be shown and you’ll be left to run through things once more, albeit with a different set of games to conquer.
So far, so good, and when Jump Stars is played by two, three or four gamers with similar attitudes, it really does excel.
Until that is the ugly head of repetition kicks in.
This is where Jump Stars is left wanting a little as the variation in game modes is slightly lacking. There may be 24 varieties of mini games, but when you take out what amounts to nothing more than skin changes, are left with just nine or so actual game options – many of which boil down to nothing much other than jumping, jumping and jumping. But then, it is called Jump Stars and so this should be expected. If you’re playing Jump Stars every now and then, for 20 minutes or so at a time, then this isn’t a problem, but long term fans will probably find it a little disappointing over time.
Similarly, the awesome Gauntlet starts off great, but ultimately sees the same modes repeated over and over again, on a running loop. A bit of randomness included in here would have made things all so much better.
Visually, and whilst the graphics are fine with their bright and colourful nature, the audio is slightly disappointing. But then, in the same breath, I’m not too sure what Jamit could have done to enhance it. At least the music is super catchy though and you’ll no doubt have it whizzing around in your head for many days.
Mechanically and again, everything is decent without being perfect. The controls work well for the vast majority of time, but there are the odd slight issues with the jump button. It occasionally feels slightly unresponsive and seeing as that is a key component to the success of your team, it would have been great to have had a bit of confidence in your leaps.
At the end of the day, Jump Stars hits the party scene with great intentions. If you’re going to play it fleetingly, hitting it once a week or so, then you’ll find it will well suffice. But expect to play it and enjoy it on a more consistent basis and you’ll probably be left a little bored by the repeating aspects.
Still for the price, it’s worth a decent shot.