Brazilian publisher QUByte continues to unearth the deepest of deep cuts as it searches for old games to republish. Jim Power: The Lost Dimension was a SNES and MS-DOS game that apparently launched in 1993. Possibly best known for coming with a pair of 3D glasses and offering a 3D effect (not available here, natch), it also gained a reputation for being one of the most difficult games around.
QUByte, alongside developers PIKO, have decided to re-release that version of the game here, alongside an 8-Bit version, created exclusively for this collection. It’s given the same wrapper as the QUByte re-release of Humans, offering visual options and an unlimited save system in the mouthful of a title – QUByte Classics – Jim Power: The Lost Dimension Collection by PIKO.
We kind of wish they hadn’t bothered. The coloned Jim Power: The Lost Dimension was forgotten for a good reason, and the only value in playing it now is to see how far we’ve come since. It’s a monument to a time when games were hard simply so that they could siphon coins out of your wallet.
The 16-bit version of Jim Power: The Lost Dimension (forgive us for shortening the title for the sake of our fingers) is the one that offers potential nostalgia for those who played it originally, but it’s also the worst of the two games offered here.
You play Jim Power, on a mission to defeat the alien Vaprak. That means some genre-hopping, as you move from Contra-ish action-platforming to reasonably familiar space shoot ’em-up, and even some jet packing and top-down gameplay. None of them get within a grenade-throw of being good.
The Contra stuff takes up the lion’s share of Jim Power: The Lost Dimension, and it makes Altered Beast feel like Dead Cells. It splits roughly in half, with clumsy platforming and one-note, bullet-spongey combat coming together to make something truly unholy.
Jim as a main character is far too big and wide, making the platforming half of Jim Power an unsatisfying experience. You tap-dance to the edge of a platform so that only a toe is touching it, before making numerous, precise jumps. Then you are at the whims of some of the most gratuitous collision detection in modern memory, as spikes and enemies graze a pixel and send you to your doom. You won’t always have seen them either, as many obstacles like to camouflage with the environment. Acid raindrops can go do one. And that’s if the level’s time limit doesn’t kill you first.
Combat is so one note that you couldn’t even make the Jaws soundtrack from it. You can fire your gun, but that’s it, and it’s your only defence against the hordes. But the enemies take far too many hits, particularly if you are low on gun power-ups (which stack until they are lost on death), making combat a slog. You could even venture that some skirmishes are impossible, as the enemies make a home on tiny platforms so that they can’t be killed before they kill you.
Jim Power: The Lost Dimension is difficult. Astonishingly, abruptly difficult, and not in a way that you would categorise as fair. When it’s not caused by the precise platforming or unfairly placed enemies, it’s their sudden and unavoidable appearance on your game screen. Without warning, they will sprint onto your screen and kill you before you can possibly react. The size of the Jim is a big part of the problem, as his girth doesn’t leave much of the game screen left for the arrival of enemies.
Lives and health are persistent across levels, so a single point of damage can be devastating. But damage in Jim Power: The Lost Dimension is almost inevitable, unless you have the reactions of a dervish, the ability to memorise placement of enemies, and the patience to tiptoe through the levels (but at speed of course, thanks to that time limit). Oh, and luck, as collision detection can pull the rug from under you completely.
Credit to PIKO for including an unlimited save system, but Jim Power: The Lost Dimension highlights its flaws. You will want to save often, as a single boss encounter can wipe your stock of lives. But saving and then loading is far slower than it should be, and includes more game screens than we would like. You will be using it on an almost minute-by-minute basis, so the usability issues hurt more. And even then, you will still struggle to complete Jim Power: The Lost Dimension.
The R-Type-style sequences are better but not by much. They have the same annoying habit of including bullet sponges (basic enemies in a shooter like this should not take more than two hits to kill) and enemies who very suddenly appear, either because they were camouflaged or because they sprint across the screen without time to react.
But these sequences at least feel functional, shrinking the size of your character and handing you controls of something that can move with a bit of speed. There are some monolithic bosses who stick in the memory, and the difficulty is tuned a tiny bit down, making them actually feasible with the help of the save system.
Ultimately, though, the hopping from save to load screen in an effort to complete sections just isn’t worth it. Jim Power: The Lost Dimension doesn’t deserve the effort, with enemies repeated and recoloured, and levels that are near-identical, give or take some new platforms. Even the bosses can only muster a phase or two.
The 8-bit version manages to improve things. PIKO themselves developed this bolt-on, then bundled it into the collection. It’s an odd little curio, as it’s part demake, and part improvement on the original. It’s a demake in the sense that it’s clearly made for the NES rather than SNES, and abides by all of the graphical limitations of the older console. But it’s also learning from the failings of the original to make something clearly better.
It chunks up the original game’s longer levels into smaller, completable lumps. Power (life points) and lives replenish after each level, so it’s a sprint rather than the original’s marathon and it’s so much more enjoyable as a result.
Better still, the main character is smaller and more nimble, able to fit between lasers and bullets, rather than getting clobbered by everything the game throws at them. With a smaller character, there’s more screen to see, and the camera pulls back too. Suddenly there’s a field of view and you can anticipate enemy attacks. Generally, Jim Power: The Lost Dimension is almost easy enough to be completable by a human being.
But we shouldn’t get too excited, as it’s still fairly awful. The shoot ’em-up sections aren’t much improved and share the same foibles. Plus it has an approach to bosses that made us chuckle at the game rather than with it. Bosses reappear in multiple colours, but wield laughably easy attacks. One boss jumps slowly at you like a frog. Another fires a single, telegraphed missile. It seems to have over-compensated for the original game’s difficulty in these sections. And, lest we forget, it’s still using many of the 16-bit game’s levels, albeit chopped up into a scrapbook. So the quality of the level design is just as poor as it has always been.
There are two games in the QUByte Classics – Jim Power: The Lost Dimension Collection by PIKO: one that was terrible and unjustly difficult in 1993, and has festered away to be even more terrible in the modern day; the second is better, but – like an accomplished covers band forced to play the songs of Jedward – they can only do so much with the material. QUByte Classics – Jim Power: The Lost Dimension Collection by PIKO is a collection to miss, then, and we hope QUByte’s noble intention to preserve older classics finds some worthier targets.
You can buy QUByte Classics: Jim Power: The Lost Dimension Collection from the Xbox Store
- As usual, the QUByte presentation is superb
- The 8-bit version is a significant improvement
- Packs in plenty of gameplay styles…
- … But not one of them works well
- Punishingly difficult, even with saves
- Not worth persisting past the unfairness
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Purchased by TXH
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
- Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
- Release date - 2 June 2022
- Launch price from - £8.39
Hi Dave! Did you include the mention of Jedward in your piece just so you’d get clicks? Because you’ve clearly not listened to any of their original work, and have just based your comment on some outdated and inaccurate rubbish put forward by X Factor (who in turn did that for the tv equivalent of clicks….). You’ve got my click, but it’s a hollow one because I’m not your target audience, nor have I read your piece.