Jumping Jack (1983)(Imagine Software) ROM
ZX Spectrum (Tapes) / ZX TAP ROMsGenre: Action
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Game Description & Reviews:
Jumping Jack was one of the first games on the ZX Spectrum - and perhaps the very first computer game I ever played. That I still enjoy it today says much about the game, (and perhaps even more about the player).
The game itself is quite simple: guide the main character (Jack) up a series of levels by getting him to jump up through the moving gaps in the lines. When he leaps above the last line, he clears the stage and moves to the next: at this point, the reader receives another line of a limerick ('The Ballad of Jumping Jack') which proves to be a surprisingly strong incentive to keep playing. However to increase the challenge, for every stage after the first, an obstacle (steam engine, axe, dinosaur, etc..) is added. These obstacles move and, unlike Jack, do not fall through the gaps; should he have the misfortune to encounter one of them, he will be incapacitated temporarily.
Jack starts with half-a-dozen lives; he gains a life every time he completes a stage and he loses a life every time he falls below the lowest line. Thus, the jump to the lowest line is quite important as missing this will cost a life. Furthermore, if Jack misses a jump (and hence smashes his cranium against the line) or drops down a gap, he will be temporarily out-of-action, (with a hilarious animation displaying stars around his head) : during this time he is quite vulnerable to any wandering monster or coming gap, since he is immobile. Therefore, if one is not careful, one can fall quite a few levels simply as a result of a single mistimed jump.
The graphics are quite appropriate for their era, and the sound effects are nicely done and contribute much to the game. The background ticking constitutes the only 'music', yet this seems quite apt. For ultimately, it is the simple yet addictive gameplay combined with the sheer challenge of the game (I've yet to go beyond the first few stages - and not for want of trying) that makes Jumping Jack a pleasure to play decades after it was first released.
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