Jumping Flash! North American box art featuring the protagonist Robbit
|Developer(s)||Exact Co., Ltd.
Ultra Co., Ltd.
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Distribution||1 × CD-ROM|
Jumping Flash! (Japanese: ジャンピングフラッシュ! Hepburn: Janpingu Furasshu!?) is a platform video game published by Sony Computer Entertainment and developed by Exact Co., Ltd. and Ultra Co., Ltd for the PlayStation in 1995. The first instalment in the Jumping Flash! series, it has since been re-released as a downloadable game for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable via the PlayStation Network in 2007.
The game follows the robotic rabbit named 'Robbit' as he searches for the missing Jet Pods which were scattered by the game's astrophysicist antagonist, Baron Aloha. The game is presented in a first-person perspective, in which Robbit must explore each world to retrieve all the hidden Jet Pods, stop Aloha, and save the world from desolate emptiness.
Jumping Flash! was generally well received from critics, who praised the game for its graphics and its unique platforming style, but was quickly overshadowed by other 3D platformers of the changing game generation such as Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot. However despite its overshadow Jumping Flash! did spawn a few sequels such as Jumping Flash! 2 and Robbit Mon Dieu. The game was described as the third most under-rated video game of all time by Matt Casamassina of IGN in 2007.
The game revolves around the story of the astrophysicist antagonist, Baron Aloha, who removed giant pieces of land from Crater Planet by using his "gigantic land-lifting machines" in order to turn them into his own private resorts. Aloha also removed and hidden away the twelve Jet Pods that propel each world. The residents of Crater Planet consequently call for help, and in response the Universal City Hall sends one of their agents, a mechanical bunny named Robbit. Robbit must explore each world to retrieve every scattered Jet Pod, stop Aloha, and save Crater Planet from desolate emptiness.
Throughout the game, Aloha surrounds himself with creatures called MuuMuus which are described as small, white, five-limbed creatures with small palm trees on their heads. Many of the game's full motion videos feature the MuuMuus in an izakaya, humourously recounting their defeat at the hands of the protagonist, Robbit.
The game is presented in a first-person perspective, and the player can freely move in three-dimensional space and rotate the camera in any direction. The user interface resembles that of viewing through Robbit's eyes. The top part of the screen shows the time remaining, the player's score, and 'Kumagoro' (Robbit's sidekick who offers the player warnings and hints). The top left corner of the screen shows the power-ups collected, while the top right corner contains the radar, showing the location of various objects including enemies, power-ups, Jet Pods, and enemy projectiles. The bottom is filled out with a health meter on the sides with the number of lives in the centre of it.
The core of the gameplay is centred around the player's ability to make Robbit jump. Robbit can jump up to three times, once off of a surface and twice in mid-air, allowing him to reach extreme heights. Unlike other platform games which continue to face horizontally when the player jumps, Jumping Flash! tilts the camera downwards when a double-jump or triple-jump is performed to allow the player to see Robbit's shadow and easily plan a landing spot. Jumping-chains can be performed using enemies and some projectiles.
The player has the ability to shoot a low-powered beam where a target indicator is centred in the middle of the screen. In addition, the player can find and use special items for Robbit in the form of fireworks to deal massive damage to enemies. These include cherry bombs, rockets, Roman candles, and twisters.
Other power-ups scattered across each world come in the form of picture frames representing carrots to extend Robbit's health, extra lives, Time-Outs that stop the clock and freeze all the level's dynamics for a few seconds, hourglasses that extend the player's time, and Power Pills that make Robbit invincible for a short period of time. Coins worth points can also be picked up by destroying enemies. The enemies are often of animal-like creatures such as kiwis and penguins, but there are also various robots and plants. Most have simple actions such as wandering around aimlessly, shooting or throwing projectiles out randomly. A few, however, have more intelligence such as the bomb-forming beetles or missile-shooting pigs.
Jumping Flash! is composed of 6 worlds with 3 levels each, totalling 18 main levels, of which there are 7 boss levels and an extra 6 bonus stages available. In the main levels, the objective of the first two levels of each world is to collect 4 Jet Pods with the letters "E", "X", "I", and "T" on them. After collecting them, landing on the "EXIT Pad" is all that remains in finishing the level. The third level in each world is a boss fight. The level designs vary, from Egypt-style desert to a roller coaster-filled theme park. While most of the levels are large outdoor excursions, two of the game's levels are enclosed within a narrow interior and are somewhat maze-like. The hidden bonus levels feature various blocks with balloons in them; popping the balloons yields either coins or power-ups. A time attack mode is available for any level the player has completed. Upon completing the 18 main levels, the levels can be played again with objects rearranged and a more difficult setup.
Jumping Flash! was developed by Japanese developers Exact Co., Ltd. and Ultra Co., Ltd. The game was first revealed in early 1994 under the provisional title of "Spring Man" as a technology demonstration for the then-upcoming PlayStation console. The gameplay in Jumping Flash! is noted as being nearly identical to Geograph Seal (both Geograph Seal and Jumping Flash! share the same game engine), an earlier game created by the same developer released in 1994 for the Sharp X68000. Jumping Flash! was among one of the first games of the platforming genre to be developed with full 3D technology, vastly differing from other platforming games at the time such as Donkey Kong Country and Yoshi's Island.
The music for Jumping Flash! was composed by Japanese video games and anime music composer Takeo Miratsu. Many of the tracks were included with tracks from Jumping Flash! 2 (which Miratsu also composed the music for) on the Jumping Flash! 2 Original Soundtrack. The soundtrack was published by Antinos Records in Japan in 1996.
Reception and legacy
Jumping Flash! received positive review scores after its release, including a 4.1/5 from GamePro, a 4/5 from Next Generation Magazine, and an 8.6/10 from Electronic Gaming Monthly. The game was scored a 34 out of 40 by Famitsu, ranking it among the magazine's top 120 PlayStation games of all time in 2000. IGN's original review gave Jumping Flash! a 7.5/10, stating that despite some the relatively small worlds and easy difficulty, it is "a great, genre-pushing game". Game Revolution cited the same complaints, but calls the graphics "mind blowing" and the game itself "totally unique", giving it an A- score. Albert Kim of Entertainment Weekly stated, "Perhaps the most euphoric sensation comes at the height of a turbocharged jump, when you can look below and see the world quietly slip away."
Despite its innovation and critical acclaim, other 3D platformers such as Super Mario 64 would go on to become a standard for the genre. In 2007, Matt Casamassina of IGN described Jumping Flash! as the third most under-rated video game of all time. Due to its popularity, Jumping Flash! did manage to produce a few sequels such as Jumping Flash! 2 (also developed by Exact) which was released worldwide for the PlayStation a year later. Two loose sequels, Robbit Mon Dieu on PlayStation and Pocket MuuMuu compatible for the PocketStation, were released exclusively in Japan by Sugar and Rockets a few years later.
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