By Justin Guillou / September 28th, 2013
|Title: Jumping Flash!
Developer: EXACT, ULTRA
Release Date: September 9, 1995
Platforms: PSX, PSN
Age Rating: ESRB: K-A
When PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale was released, many fans were speculating what characters would be present in the game. When people thought about potential characters to be added to the roster, names like Crash Bandicoot, Parappa, or Dart often came up. However, there is one character whom many seem to have forgotten and is almost never mentioned in these discussions. This is a character who was on Sony’s side from the very beginning, before any of the aforementioned characters. Folks, I present to you, Robbit.
This guy is the star of Jumping Flash! for the Sony PlayStation. This odd game was one of the first true 3D platformers. Before Jumping Flash!, the only other game that came close to achieving this was a game called Geograph Seal, released on a Japanese home computer known as the Sharp X86000. The thing is, Geograph Seal was made by the same developer as this game! The story goes as follows: the evil Baron Aloha is taking apart entire cities and areas of the world, and using them as his own personal vacation resort. It is your job to traverse these worlds and collect the four Jetpods hidden in each level to free them from Aloha.
Jumping Flash! is a first-person platformer in which Robbit jumps and shoots through six worlds with three stages in each. The Jetpods are these carrot-shaped objects that spell the word “EXIT.” These Jetpods are scattered throughout the level and can be picked up in any order. Once you gain all four, jump on the Exit pad (it literally says exit on it) and you will complete the level. Each world has three stages and the third stage is a boss battle. Enemies and bosses can be destroyed by either shooting them with his regular bullets or by using one of the special weapons that can be found and picked up throughout the levels (enemies can also drop them). Robbit can hold up to three of these special weapons; if the player were to pick up another, the weapon that was picked up first is lost while the new one is added to the arsenal. Weapons include cherry bombs, rockets, twister projectiles that circle around enemies, and my favorite: the roman candle! This weapon lets Robbit shoot two lasers that stay on screen for a while and when combined with Robbit’s jumping and shooting abilities, can make quick work of just about any enemy in the game and turn the little guy into quite the killing machine. You fight a wide variety of normal enemies throughout the game such as penguins, pig-like robots that shoot giant missles from their mouths, construction workers, birds, flowers, and these weird television/bat hybrid (just go with it) robots.
Also hidden in the first stage of each world is a Bonus Ring. Run into one of these and you will be warped to a bonus level. Here, you have to destroy all of the balloons within the time limit. Pop all of the balloons and you will be awarded with an extra life. You are allowed to use any of Robbit’s weapons to pop the balloons. The balloons even drop special weapons and powerups including the Power Pill! What does the Power Pill do? Take it and you will become invincible and start glowing in all sorts of different colors. During this time, Robbit can destroy any balloon or enemy (should you get the power up during a level) and the music gets really out of hand.
A game would not be called Jumping Flash! if it did not involve jumping. The levels feature platforms that are very high up and Robbit can jump up to three times to reach them. Have you ever played a 3D game and gotten frustrated because the camera made it difficult for you to make a jump properly? Issues like those are nonexistent in this game. When you perform your second jump, the view is tilted downward and you will see a rather cute looking shadow of the robotic rabbit. This is used to pinpoint exactly where Robbit will land and is incredibly useful. Robbit can also land on top of enemies to either extend the jump or damage them. Gravity also comes into play when doing this, in that the higher you are, the harder you fall and the more damage an enemy or boss will receive when you land on them. Speaking of bosses, you will encounter a dragon, a robot scorpion, a genie, a transforming block, a turtle, and even another Robbit. Most of these bosses are much bigger than Robbit, but the arenas give you a good amount of room to maneuver around and attack them.
Being an early PlayStation title, expect to see some very blocky models. As dated as the visuals may be by today’s standards, they do hold a certain charm to them which, in my opinion, adds to the experience. The music in the game is also incredibly cheerful and catchy. Do not be surprised if you find yourself humming some of the tunes in the game. The soundtrack seems to cover a wide variety of genre’s based on the level and on the situation. During the regular stages, expect to have very relaxing and calm music and then when you reach the boss level, expect a faster paced and more intense version of the level themes of that world. World 6-1’s theme is one of my favorites as it is the final non-boss stage and a a result has a very exciting song to get you pumped for the final boss battle. The music was actually composed by Takeo Miratsu, who would later work on the music for the cult classic JRPG, The Legend of Dragoon.
Once you finish the game, a Muu Muu, one of Baron Aloha’s underlings says: “You ain’t done yet BABUBLUBALABU” (that is NOT a typo). Basically, once you complete the game, you unlock Extra Mode, which is a continuation of the story. You have to go through a slightly remixed version of the worlds and the Jetpods are in different locations from before. You also unlock Super Mode, which is basically the speedrun mode of the game. In this mode, Robbit can move faster and perform a “quickdrop” with the triangle button. In Super Mode, Robbit is also able to jump up to six times. This, combined with the quick drop, allows the player to take out the bosses incredibly quickly, which brings me to one of the game’s only flaws: the difficulty. Unfortunately, the game is very easy once you get used to the way Robbit controls. The game could have benefited from having a harder difficulty or slightly more aggressive enemies. If you are looking for a game that will truly challenge your gaming skills, this is not it. This is a game for those who want to relax and play a game that is enjoyable, while not tempting the player to throw their console out the window.
Another potential flaw is that you are unable to strafe. The reason I call this a potential flaw is because while it does not bother me, I can see some players who come into this game after playing more modern games being very confused about the lack of such maneuverability. Honestly I think the game is better off without it. I never really found a spot where it would have been too useful and it probably would have made boss battles, including the final boss, pathetically easy. Basically, as long as you come into this game without thinking it is an FPS, the lack of strafing should not bother you.
Jumping Flash! did so much for the video game scene, yet it doesn’t quite get the credit or attention it deserves. In fact, later and more popular games like Super Mario 64 or Crash Bandicoot got praised and credited for doing what this game did the previous year. With solid controls, a really catchy soundtrack and a decent amount of replay value thanks to Extra and Super Modes, Jumping Flash! is a game that fans of 3D platformers need to try out. Today, the original PlayStation version of Jumping Flash! can be purchased online for about $15-25 or downloaded on the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3, Portable, and Vita for $5.99. You may have missed out on this game in the past, but now Sony has made it playable on pretty much every Sony console out there, so what are you waiting for? Grab a PlayStation and this game, and start jumping!
Review copy purchased by author
This review is based on the PS1 version of the game.
ExactJumping FlashplatformerPlaystationPlayStation 1PlayStation NetworkPlaystation PortablePlayStation VitaPS2PSNPSP