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Jumping Flash!
Jumping Flash! 2

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Pocket MuuMuu
Robbit Mon Dieu
Geograph Seal

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Pocket MuuMuu (ポケットムームー) - PlayStation (1999)

Japanese PlayStation Cover

After a three-year absence, Robbit and friends made their way back to the PlayStation. However, this time the focus is on collection mini-games rather than platforming. The interface in Pocket MuuMuu is similar to that of the previous two Jumping Flash! games. While on the worlds, the game switches to the traditional Jumping Flash! first-person perspective. However, the HUD is slightly different this time. The power bar and weapons cache are gone, replaced by a digital clock and display of your Mu (the in-game currency).

The aim is to acquire applications that you can transfer to your PocketStation or play on the in-game emulator. The PocketStation was a Japan-only game peripheral for the PlayStation. It's a portable gaming device who was intended to be used in conjunction with PlayStation games, as it can be plugged into the memory card slot. The PocketStation downloads information or mini-games from a game, which can then be played independently of the PlayStation. Progress and information from the PocketStation could then be uploaded to the PlayStation proper. Graphically, it's on par with a Tamagotchi. If you look in the American owner's manual of Final Fantasy VIII, you'll see instructions for the almost released American version. In that game, you could use the PocketStation to upgrade your Chocobo and receive items that were otherwise inaccessible.

The applications you can acquire in Pocket MuuMuu come in two flavors: PG and PT. PGs are games, while PT are tools (usually trinkets like kitchen timers or address books) that have simple functions. There around 70 PGs and 30 PTs throughout the game, though you start out the game with one PG. How do you get more of these Apps? By earning Mu. How do you earn Mu? By playing PGs. This is fairly straightforward.

The PGs are similar to the early WarioWare mini-games, though they predate that series by four years. There's a variety of games, even if their content isn't revolutionary: Simon Says, 100-meter dash, figuring out look-alike shapes, a FPS, even an RPG. And a few of the game even have character select screens. There's some charm to competing in the 100 yard dash as a ninja who backflips towards the finish line. In the push war game, when the dinosaur loses, he suddenly becomes "extinct" and turns into a skeleton that falls down the mountain.

Like the minigames from the WarioWare games, they're great in small bursts but their charm fades with repeated use. And, oh, will you play them. The new applications usually cost 4-6,000 Mu; the average output of playing through one of the mini-games is 300-500 Mu. To get any new content, you're required to grind like it's an RPG from the 80s. You'll find yourself playing the push war minigame just because you can get 1,000 Mu for each playthrough.

The Mu collecting seems to be an artificial way of extending the gameplay. The same for the amusement park world, which also requires epic amounts of Mu to access new content. These elements seem like sloppy justification for a game that essentially a collection of what should be default applications for the PocketStation. Pocket Muu Muu has no cut scenes or voice work, only two game worlds that can be explored, and barely any graphic elements that haven't been lifted from the previous Jumping Flash! games.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Sugar & Rockets

Publisher:

Genre:

Themes:


Pocket MuuMuu (PlayStation)

Pocket MuuMuu (PlayStation)

Pocket MuuMuu (PlayStation)


Robbit Mon Dieu (ロビット・モン・ジャ) - PlayStation, PSN (2000)

Japanese PlayStation Cover

The third and final Jumping Flash! game was, as with Pocket MuuMuu, developed by Sugar & Rockets, rather than the original team. The title, translated from French, means "Robbit My God!", a ridiculous title if there ever was one.

The Baron Aloha is now gone for good and peace has come to the galaxy. So what's an out-of-work hero to do? Well, Robbit becomes the equivalent of a mercenary Boy Scout, doing good deeds around Hananuma Island in exchange for a bit of cash. A map screen indicates locations where various folk are in need; visit and you'll get a quick rundown of the goals and a cutscene with Robbit listening to the customer-in-need. In other words, the open-ended scavenger hunts that comprised the earlier games have been replaced with mission-based levels.

In some levels, someone will hop on your back, and you just need to take them to a goal. In others, you need to deliver items between two places. Or you need to kill a certain number of enemies in a level. Some areas are just platforming trials, as you attempt to reach a goal without falling off the stage. Since the game was never translated into English, it may be difficult to figure out exactly what you're supposed to be doing, especially if you're under a time limit, but usually it's pretty obvious.

The levels in Robbit Mon Dieu are much smaller, and much shorter, than the first two games, seldom lasting more than a few minutes. This leads to a very disjointed feel, as sometimes the loading times and cutscenes last longer than the time you spend actually completing a level. The goals themselves are often very simple too, and combat, outside of a handful of boss battles, is sparse. The first two Jumping Flash! games were hardly complicated, but without the huge levels to explore, the world ends up feeling dull in comparison. This is somewhat made up for with the oddball cast of characters, like the carrot obsessed farmer and the little girl who's always happening upon gigantic red buttons, but most of this humor is lost if, again, you don't understand Japanese.

Beating levels will earn you currency, here dubbed "Kiwis". Outside of completing as many missions as possible, the main goal is to obtain as many dot cards as possible, which feature characters and other strange bits from the Jumping Flash! universe. It's really not a compelling enough of a reason to give the game enough replay value though. Additionally, once you complete thirty missions, then you're forced into the final level, leaving any subplots uncompleted.

The mechanics are largely the same as the previous games. You only have one special item slot rather than three. There's also a pounding technique, executed by jumping high then hitting Triangle, which can be used to destroy certain things on the ground.

In the end, Robbit Mon Dieu is a disappointment, and its lack of a localization was no great tragedy.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Sugar & Rockets

Publisher:

Director:

  • Toshimitsu Ōdaira
  • Koji Tada

Genre:

Themes:


Robbit Mon Dieu (PlayStation)

Robbit Mon Dieu (PlayStation)

Robbit Mon Dieu (PlayStation)

Robbit Mon Dieu (PlayStation)


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Geograph Seal (ジオグラフシール) - X68000 (1994)

Japanese Cover

Geograph Seal was created by Exact for the Sharp X68000, a Japanese home computer renowned for its near-arcade graphics ability. It's impossible to deny that this game is the progenitor for Jumping Flash! It has all the same elements: piloting a mech who can triple jump (including the camera panning downward as you descend), a radar to find enemies, similar weapons, and on screen notations that mark targets and enemies. While Jumping Flash! is a platformer with FPS elements, Geograph Seal is an FPS with some platforming elements.

Geograph Seal handles identically to the first Jumping Flash! game, with clunky tank-like movement. You have four different weapons with wonderfully Engrishy names (Valcan, Laser, Horming and Riat) that you can switch between on the fly and that can be upgraded. Unlike Jumping Flash!, almost every object on the screen in labeled: enemies, targets, power-ups and bosses (if all the onscreen text isn't your style, you can turn it off in the option menu). One strange omission: you are only allowed to access the pause menu while on the ground, so no mid-air weapon changes.

If Jumping Flash! proved how the engine was a little bit too robust for a platformer, Geograph Seal proves the opposite: it just isn't well-suited for a fast paced action game. The screen is flooded with enemies from the moment the game starts (ships in the air, centurions, ground mechs, etc.) who are all gunning for the player. And it's not uncommon for the enemies to hit the player if they stand still for more than a second. It's a frentic game with quick moving enemies, but like the Jumping Flash! games, the player's mech moves at the same relaxed gallop and has limited ability to change direction while jumping. But playing the first level is enjoyable, because as your health is copious and destroying all the enemies is fun. That is until you meet the first level boss.

The boss is a monolith orbited by four orbs that shoot energy blasts. Of course the orbs are above the mechs. More annoying, the hit detection is pretty shoddy - blasts from the orbs that appear to pass harmlessly over the player's mech actually hit it. There are one of two ways this enemy can be encountered: you can charge recklessly into the beast and attack each of the orbs by jumping on them or shoot at them, and hope that your health holds out (which it won't) or you can hide behind one of the four pillars on the perimeter of the arena and fire-off homing missiles. The problem with this is that you will still be hit by energy blasts and the homing missiles only hit their targets sporadically. Of course, once the orbs are finished, the monolith itself shoots out energy beams that hit you behind the pillars. And again, the homing missiles are unreliable at best and do almost no damage. And if you attack the enemy directly, you'll be destroyed in a matter of seconds. Simply put: a fun first level is destroyed by crappy boss design and annoying hit detection.

Geograph Seal has a distinct late 80s/early 90s cyberpunk feel to it. It's entirely in English (including a garbled introduction), and has pulse-pounding electronic music. Really, it's interesting to see Jumping Flash!'s engine used with a different emphasis. In some ways the engine seems more suited for the run and gun style, rather than Jumping Flash!'s laid back pace.

Quick Info:

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Publisher:

Director:

  • Hiroyuki Saegusa

Genre:

Themes:


Geograph Seal (X68000)

Geograph Seal (X68000)

Geograph Seal (X68000)


Additional Screenshots


Legacy

The Jumping Flash! games are very interesting because they get the title "semi-obscure" or "never-popular." And on certain game forums it is said that Jumping Flash! would have been huge if not for marketing/Super Mario 64/fan apathy etc. Unlike the Super Mario or early Sonic games, Jumping Flash! fails in appealing to gamers of all levels. Robbit is always just a little too overpowered for his environment. Enemies are inconveniences instead of obstacles, and Exact/Sugar and Rockets never push the game mechanics in the way that Nintendo has with Super Mario. There's no difference between the mechanics of Geograph Seal and Robbit Mon Dieu, and that is a pity.

But unlike Super Mario 64, which has loads of replay value, the Jumping Flash! games' mystique fades after a playthrough. Yes, the "extra" mode extends the gameplay, as does the time-attack mode, but there isn't much that's hidden about the Jumping Flash! games. They're almost too straightforward. There aren't any hidden warps tunnels, or new techniques to learn, or crazy power-ups that can be acquired if you do.

What's kept Robbit on the periphery of pop culture instead of fading into obscurity has to be that Sony owns the series, thus it's been released to the PSN and their Android Xperia Play system. It undoubtably helps that the Jumping Flash! games have a "pick-up-and-play" breeziness to them. The games are very straightforward. There aren't multitudes of techniques to learn, the worlds are colorful, and gameplay has an addictive quality.

Does Jumping Flash! deserve more attention than it currently receives? Yes. The first two games especially are excellent and have solid game mechanics, and are worth checking out

Jumping Flash! 2 (PlayStation)

Jumping Flash! (PlayStation)


Related Articles


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Jumping Flash!
Jumping Flash! 2

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Pocket MuuMuu
Robbit Mon Dieu
Geograph Seal

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