Even if you absolutely hate insects, you can’t help but fall in love with the adorable little buggers in Avallon Alliance Ltd. and Dagdargon Games’ new puzzle game Jump Out!. The bugs want their freedom and they need your help to breakout from the confining cartons, cramped crates and computer cases they’ve been trapped in.
Jump Out! is a level-based physics puzzle game that will have you flicking, spinning and bouncing bugs (and other small creatures) off and through a series of obstacles trying to successfully get each one safely to the exit. You’ll start out with one or more bugs spinning around on what looks like a small gear. Simply place your finger on one of these bugs and pull back to get a trajectory line and set the power, then let go to launch. The trajectory line shows the path the bug will take when released. If you’ve ever played Angry Birds (an let’s face it, who hasn’t) or another physics-based puzzle game, you will already be very familiar with this gameplay mechanic. Jumping from platform to platform, or using some pool-like banking shots, you need to get the bugs into the exit hole. You will also notice three stars in each level which can be collected by having a bug pass through them. There is no time limit for each level, but the quicker you can complete the level, the higher your score.
Every few levels or so a new game mechanic is introduced using a cool reel-to-reel projector-like title screen. These can be anything from new creature types (with their own physics properties) to new obstacles to deal with, and they add an amazing amount of variety to the game. From bumpers to nails, shrimp to snails, this game is always throwing something new at you which constantly keeps you on your toes and forces you to change your tactics. While the initial levels are confined to just a single room, eventually you need to traverse multiple rooms, picking up new rescuees along the way. The craziest and coolest levels come towards the end of the current series of 75 levels when all of these mechanics start weaving together, like getting a bug, a shrimp and a snail through multiple rooms, while avoiding nails and electric walls and taking some bubbles for a ride!
The ultimate goal of each level is to rescue all of the critters and capture all of the stars, both of which will earn you special indicators in the level-select screen. Levels are scored based on a variety of factors including the number of bugs rescued, the number of stars collected, your speed and the number of actions taken. If a bug is off one of the spinning platforms for too long, then he will die, but hope is not lost for the perfect rescue, as live bugs can be used to nudge dead bugs into the exit and if a dead bug somehow collides with a spinning platform, then he will be resurrected and back in play again. Quite possibly the only flaw with the game is that currently there is no Game Center support or global leaderboards, but this is coming in the next update, along with 30 new levels. Even without this support, the replay value is fairly high for perfectionists seeking 3 stars and a perfect save on each level.
By completing 2 full level sets, you unlock an optional special “advanced mode” which replaces your trajectory arc, with a directional arrow that changes colors depending on how much power you are using. Since you can’t see exactly where the launched creature will hit (like you can with the trajectory line), it is much more difficult to play with the arrow. The good news is that scores earned while playing advanced mode will be twice that of the normal mode. So once those leaderboards go live…you can be king if you can master advanced mode.
This game features truly fantastic retina display resolution artwork from Sergey Nikiforov who creates some really cute, big-eyed critters that are sure to appeal to players of all ages. There is also some really catchy theme music that plays during the level select screen and at the end of each level. While I wish that this could have been carried into the actual levels as well, instead you are treated to some ambient street noise which adds a rather neat effect, especially if you are wearing headphones. The bugs will occasionally spout some cute sound effects, adding to their character.
Jump Out! is the most fun I’ve had with a physics-based puzzle game in some time. The amazing amount of character and variety in the gameplay keeps things fresh and inviting. Once I started playing, I had trouble putting it down, squeezing in a level or two whenever I had a couple of minutes to spare, until I beat them all. This is a MUST HAVE game for any fan of the genre and seeing the sales numbers for Angry Birds…there are a LOT of you! Today the folks at Avallon Alliance have also just released a free version of Jump Out! which comes with 10 levels, unique to this version and which even introduce a couple of all-new gameplay mechanics. At the very least you NEED to pick up the free version, but I’m certain it will leave you wanting more.