VG Tribune

Jumping Joe & Friends Review

June 9, 2018 / 10:15 PM

By: Jesse Waldack

Thanks to Nintendo Dads Podcast Patron Bryan Scott for writing the following review for Jumping Joe & Friends

Title: Jumping Joe & Friends
Developer: Vixa Games / QubicGames S.A.
Publisher: QubicGames
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 5/25/2018
Reviewed by: Bryan Scott

Every game isn’t for everybody, but I believe that every game does have its own place in the world. Some so-called triple-A games appeal to the mass market with their bleeding edge 3D graphics and Dolby Atmos sound engineering, churned out over the course of years powered by multi-million-dollar budgets. While in another corner of the game development world, smaller studios and independent developers on limited budgets are creating unique pieces of art geared towards a niche crowd. Both types of gaming experiences exist in the portable gaming landscape, but it’s undeniable that the smaller games can be an excellent palate cleanser between long sessions on titles like God of War or the latest Final Fantasy RPG adventure. Enter Jumping Joe & Friends, developed by Vixa Games and published by QubicGames for the Nintendo Switch.

If you’ve ever played a mobile game like the vertical platforming classic Doodle Jump, or any of its hundreds of clones, then you’re already familiar with the gameplay style of Jumping Joe & Friends. That’s not to say that Jumping Joe is a rip-off of the others — it is not. But you’ll find yourself quickly acclimated to it’s simple gameplay mechanics and controls without any laborious instructions or tutorials. Jumping is quite easy, and it’s the only action you need to worry about in the game. Toss your twin joysticks aside because you won’t need them. All you’ll need is the B & A buttons. Or L & R. Or ZL & ZR. Basically, any combination of {button on the left} & {button on the right} will propel Joe (or any of his Friends) toward the next platform. But Joe doesn’t just jump vertically in a straight line. Pushing L will propel Joe upward and diagonally to the left while pushing R would do just the opposite. And that’s all there is to it.

Jumping Joe & Friends has multiple modes which I’ll touch on more in a little bit, but the main Arcade Mode has one simple goal: Jump as high as you can to obtain the highest score atop the local leaderboard. Ascension takes place through vibrant, procedurally generated backgrounds and platforms which are riddled with traps and hazards. Each platform you successfully jump on increments your score by one and every fifty platforms or so produces a change in the environment and hazard types encountered. The dangers along the way can either damage your character or outright end his quest for achieving great heights. The cautious player might be inclined to pace themselves slowly, calculating their next jump to avoid any hazards. But delay too long and you’ll be met with a fiery fate as lava is steadily rising and always hot on your heels! Additional hazards you may encounter include spiked platforms, pesky bats, ghosts, fireballs shot from cannons, and more so beware!

As if the player didn’t have enough to watch out for, there are also gems scattered throughout the levels which add to the player’s total currency count. These items are enticing to pursue but may bring you closer to hazards as well. In addition to these gems, you’ll also encounter other power-ups such as a hat that adds protection for one hazard, a rocket ship which will boost you upward fifty platforms, and a magnet which makes gems naturally gravitate toward your character. Gems are the player’s currency. Collect enough gems and you can unlock some of Joe’s friends as playable characters. These characters can be a little expensive, so I wouldn’t count on being able to play just a few rounds and unlock several of them quickly. It really takes a bit of grinding to get a new character. They aren’t just skin swaps though, which is nice. Each of Joe’s friends has their own distinct ability which will provide the player with a different skill to ascend higher in the environment. Joe and his friends can be leveled up as well, again at the cost of gems.

Gems can also be used to unlock other modes of play. There is a Race Mode which is all about speed — get as high as you can, as fast as you can while your time is recorded. And the best part about this mode is that there aren’t any hazards other than jumping in a direction where there isn’t a platform to catch you or jumping into the wall on the side of the level. Outside of that, there are no other ways to die so the challenge is all about quick button presses and the ability to queue up the next several platform directions in your head as you speed upward.

If you’re still not convinced, take it to a party and invite a friend or three to play along! Jumping Joe & Friends has a competitive local multiplayer mode supporting up to four players via split screen. In this mode, be the last man alive to earn bragging rights amongst your buds. It’s not about how high you can make it, it’s all about how long you can survive. I had the opportunity to try this mode out over a holiday with friends and we had a pretty good time in this mode. We also made our own version of multiplayer out of the standard single-player Arcade Mode by simply playing a round and passing the controller after each player’s attempt at a high score. I think we generally enjoyed playing it this way a little more, to be honest.

I didn’t expect to have much to say about Jumping Joe & Friends considering the game’s simplicity. But the developers at Vixa Games have packed in enough to make this an enjoyable experience. Like the Doodle Jumps of days past that occupied our time waiting at the DMV or doctor’s office, Jumping Joe & Friends is a simple, quick paced game that can kill time between events or serve as a fun party game to play with others. It’s unlikely that you’ll spend hours on end playing this one, but it does seem to have that certain je ne sais quoi drawing the player back in for just one more attempt. This game is family friendly and playable by all ages. I would certainly recommend it! Special thanks to QubicGames for providing us with a review copy.

About the author /

Having played Intellivision and Atari games since he was six, Jesse has not only grown up with video games, but has seen just about everything. A husband and father of three teenagers, he still tries to squeeze in a game or three when he is able.

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