Jumping Jack


Review by Tony Bueno



Graphics: 5

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 7

One of the most unusual titles in MAME (no small statement), the jury is still out on whether this game was released in the U.S., Japan only, or ever released at all. It's a mystery, but Jumping Jack is one overlooked Universal title which should appeal to most classic gamers due to its bright, cheerful appearance, lively (if a tad annoying at times) sounds, and challenging, innovative game play.

The game begins with a map showing your odyssey beginning with Monky's (sic) Hill, eventually ending up at Mt. Opal for reasons neither the attract mode nor preliminary opening explains. Not that it really matters, however.

Jack is a jungle explorer in the same vein as Jungle Hunt's protagonist. This portly Dr. Livingston/tourist/Panama Joe/explorer-type guy bravely ventures forth in this terrain, which consists mostly of seesaws and small platforms to leap forward toward his elusive goal at the top of the screen. Your main adversaries are numerous small monkeys (or is it monkys?) who try to bounce Jack off the teeter-totters. They may kill you by knocking you down from a seesaw, or by coming into direct contact with them while you are stationary on a stable platform. If you bounce on a still teeter-totter whilst a monkey is on the other end, you flip him off instead. Sound fun? You bet it is! Also, monkeys come in two varieties; pink and white. Pink ones are merely worth points while white monkeys illuminate the currently highlighted letter of the word EXTRA at the top. Light EXTRA to get an extra Jack. Cherries are also abundant, but for points only. I seem to recall that there was another Universal game with similar bonus points and extra life play mechanics, but either that game's title slips my mind or I am possibly going insane. Or both.

Level 1 is a good intro to play mechanics, albeit a little too difficult for being the first level. To further complicate the precision jumping, we have an unhappy native tribesman who rolls a huge boulder towards Jack near the end goal. This tribe certainly has it in for our hero, as they merrily hurl spears (ahem!) at our hapless hero as the game progresses. If all that weren't enough, some levels pit you up against rhinos, vultures and piranhas, too. When and if you finally do reach Mt. Opal, you are rewarded with a slot machine for acquiring a bonus. So that's what Jack was after all this time! Whether or not a diamond for a free credit is one of the bonuses has yet to be seen.

The graphics are simple and somewhat ho-hum. Music is catchy, but the incessant "BOING! BOING! BOING! BOING!" sounds should have been toned down a little. Levels are well designed and this is one of those titles which insidiously keeps you coming back for more and more despite pissing you off immensely (my favorite!). Oh, those nutty Universal programmers!

Give Jumping Jack a whirl. It's well worth playing and should provide a tempting challenge.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 03:27 PM