JUMPING FLASH / Sony / Playstation

The Playstation is a platform with no shortage of bizarre games - you can play as a mosquito focused on driving a human family crazy by sucking their blood, or as a rapping puppy trying to win the heart of a sunflower with the help of an onion-headed kung fu master, for example. But Jumping Flash gives all of them a run for their money in the "nutty concept" department. The major difference with it is that, unlike many of the other "experimental" games seen on the old PSX, this one actually has very good gameplay to back it up.

This game is sometimes touted as the first 3D platformer, but there's some obscure computer titles that actually have it beat there. What's more, it isn't really like a platformer so much as it is an odd and creative derivative of DOOM-style FPS games. You play as the rather awesome Robbit, a robot rabbit whose specialty is being able to triple-jump to epic heights. He's also equipped with a somewhat weak blaster that fires slowly, but will nevertheless be key in surviving the game. Robbit's home world is a series of small islands, and it has been invaded by some robot octopus army that is apparently hell-bent on tentacle-groping everything in sight.

Robbit will traverse six levels, each composed of two stages and a boss battle. You can save after completing each stage, but if you exhaust your supply of lives beforehand, it's back to X-1 of that particular stage for you. The stages are full of floating platforms and a lot of jumpy/flying enemies, and you'll comb them for up to four carrot-shaped rocket boosters, which surprisingly don't actually do anything but are required to allow you to exit the stage. Each stage also has a semi-hidden ring that takes you to a bonus stage where you can try to pop a certain amount of balloons within a time limit, if you do you'll snag a bonus life.

Boss battles usually take place in a large room against some big beastie like a dragon or gigantic scorpion. Robbit's blaster usually take quite a while to chip a boss's life down, but various power-ups - such as a barrage of rockets, a powerful laser, and a giant bomb - can be hoarded and carried in to help level the playing field.

Though the game's 1995 polygonal graphics have of course become dated, it still looks pretty decent, and there's still a bit of an adrenaline rush in triple-jumping up to the upper limits of the playfield and plummeting down to land on a narrow platform over a deadly drop. After your second leap, the perspective automatically tilts downward to show a shadow underneath you that you can line up to land accurately.

There's only a few warts to this one, the biggest being that there's no strafing control (yet plenty of unused buttons it could have been assigned to.) This doesn't matter much in most of the levels, but there's a couple levels that take place in enclosed tunnels where you can't jump much, and taking on the enemies head-to-head in that setting becomes cumbersome and a needless headache without a strafe ability. And while the stages are fairly short, taking roughly five minutes each to complete if you don't have to re-try, you can't save the game until you've completed an entire level.


Gameplay Video