developed by Exact, Ultra/published by SCEA/1995.04.28
1 Player/1 CD-ROM/SONY PlayStation 1/PSP/PS3 (download)
Exact is a fairly unknown Japanese game developer, having produced only 3 PlayStation titles (Jumping Flash! 1 & 2, Ghost in the Shell), but have made a name for themselves by always taking advantage of the 3D playfield in new or unique ways. In Ghost in the Shell, it was the ability to crawl on any surface (including walls and ceilings), and in Jumping Flash! it was the ability to leap hundreds of meters high into the sky.
The world of Jumping Flash is in distress, for the evil scientist Baron Aloha has taken chunks of the planet and carted them into outerspace. These wondrous locales include Egyptian pyramids, volcanic spouts, amusement parks, cities and other areas which defy description, all tethered to giant robots called Muu Muus by tractor beams. Our hero, Robbit the robot rabbit, must explore each planetary island while collecting jetpods that will disengage the Baron’s hold on them.
Jetpacks: Jumping Jack Flash!
While the game won’t win any awards for its story (this is a platform game after all), what it does possess is an incredibly ambitious design. Robbit can shoot using twin laser cannons, but his main ability is a super jump, which can be multiplied up to three times in mid-air. Players are free to look around, allowing for precision shooting (or to gather your surroundings), and use special weapons (of which 3 can be held in reserve).
Some levels take place underground, which play like any corridor shooter, but the above areas are where the game truly shines. Incorporating several ingenious platform mechanics: moving platforms; fans which keep you airborne; rainbow-road styled rollercoasters; Jetsons’ styled vacuum tubes, and more. The levels are not restricted by any sense of reality – in the volcano zone, you’ll see giant frying pans flipping eggs over volcanic eruptions. It’s crazy, weird, and wonderful. Collecting all four jetpods and finding the exit in each stage before time runs out will require precise command of Robbit’s triple jump, a challenge despite the fact that players can see to the horizon at any point (a limited on-screen radar helps).
Length & Replayability
In each of the six sections of the world there are 2 levels and a boss (not counting the secret modes, this only amounts to a total of 11 levels). It’s not uncommon to finish the game in less than 1 hour (made all the more disappointing by the high quality of what is there), but the game design is so unique it may be worth picking up. After you finish the game, new modes become available which extend its playability. For a fun distraction, each world has a bonus round (often cleverly hidden) in which you are given 60 seconds to pop a series of balloons, designed to put your platform/shooting skills to the test. You can also play levels in a Time Attack mode, but the game is over a little too quickly.
Bosses and Other Stuff
Bosses are always unique but not overly difficult. Upon completion the game begins another challenge: players must complete the stages with different jetpod, exit, and bonus rounds, all within a 5 minute time-limit, instead of 10 minutes. 5 minutes might sound like plenty of time, but these levels are massive – and now, every jump counts! After the extra mode is finished, the SUPER mode becomes available, unlocking an insane 6-level boost to Robbit’s jump which makes the game even more fun, but much too easy.
Jumping Flash! was a PlayStation launch title, making its successful implementation of graphics and design even more surprising. Every object and enemy is completely 3D, and while simplistic, get the job done. Slight fog is used to hide pop-up, but otherwise you can literally see the entire level spread out before you, ready to be explored. The effect is most pronounced while performing Robbit’s trademarked triple jump, as you can see the ground push away from you, then come rushing back as you land. Levels possess unique themes, with the graphics and level-specific game mechanics really combining to create an experience.
The music in Jumping Flash! is typical platform game wackiness, with that gamey feel we expect from Nintendo games. In fact, the whole package is as close to a Nintendo-made title that the PlayStation ever saw, a compliment to the designers. Jumping Flash! wasn’t the first 3D platform game, but it was the first to implement truly 3D, “go anywhere” levels, and, while there have been finer examples of the genre since (Super Mario Galaxy for example), Jumping Flash! holds a special place very near the top of its class. Now available on the PS3’s network for a measly $5, you really can’t go wrong with this one!
Quick Run Down
- Excellent level design
- Good use of 3D perspective
- Smooth difficulty curve
- Wacky cinematics and presentation
- Too short
One Sentence Review: A classic PS1 3D platformer that still manages to impress.
One Word Review: Boing!