JAZZ: Trump’s Journey, a musically-infused platformer developed by EggBall Games and published by Bulkypix, is available from the app store. With its early-20th century aesthetic, awesome soundtrack, and solid gameplay mechanics, JAZZ finds a winning combination with great appeal.
JAZZ: Trump’s Journey Pros:
- Beautiful 1920’s aesthetics
- Terrific soundtrack that permeates all aspects of the gaming experience
- Solid platforming mechanics with nice variety
- GameCenter achievements to earn
JAZZ: Trump’s Journey Cons:
- Some control quirks
- Much of the text is grammatically questionable
As the main character Trump, you relive his life through memories that begin with you setting off for New Orleans to enter a music competition while acquiring your instrument and recruiting bandmates along the way. Your journey is presented in an old-school cartoon style that has a Steamboat Willy (early Mickey Mouse for those who don’t know) feel. Characters have skinny flailing arms, and the dialogue mirrors that of silent films where comments are flashed on the screen in between bits of action. Each level is broken into sections where you must figure out how to reach the next checkpoint, indicated by a cluster of notes. Single notes are spread around each level, much like coins or gems in any number of other platformers. In addition to notes, you can also collect a small number of photographs, as well.
You’ll start slowly, simply needing to jump a few steps or blocks to reach the checkpoint. Gradually, you’ll learn to climb ladders, move crates, activate floor buttons, master wall jumps, use moving platforms, swing on ropes, and temporarily freeze time to your advantage. This last maneuver works with any item that has a musical staff symbol on it, which can stop platforms in their tracks, for example. It’s a clever aspect that will become more and more relevant as you progress. Messing up and falling into a pit is not worrisome, as you have unlimited lives and simply start again from the last checkpoint. The increasing complexity of levels creates a fun challenge, and occasional boss battles break up this progression and allow you to square off against another trumpeter for a bit of a different dynamic.
Graphically, we really enjoyed the look and feel of the game, as it incorporates a lot of subtle bits that create an interesting mashup between modern-day gaming and a century-old lifestyle. The soundtrack is superb and the choice to avoid voiceovers and maintain the great jazz tunes throughout is bold. It certainly kept our toes tapping and our interest piqued. The controls are fairly standard and easy to use, though we felt there was a bit of delay or sluggishness when alternative controls would pop in or out. You see, the left-right movement buttons, the jump button, and the trumpet blast buttons are persistent, but the grab button used for dragging boxes and the up-down buttons used with ladders would only appear when necessary. Often, the grab button wouldn’t slide into a useable state fast enough for us, as we’d run to a box and attempt to drag it away, only to find that the button didn’t respond fast enough and we had to do it again more deliberately. The up-down buttons were a bit better, but there was something a bit uncomfortable about their placement. Also, the effective area for some puzzling elements such as these wasn’t quite large enough. We noted several times that buttons would fade in and out until we found just the right spot to keep them active, which is an annoyance when you are trying to play quickly.
Replay value is decent, if simply to enjoy the fun mechanics and stellar music again. Once you know how to pass each level, there isn’t much challenge left. There are some translation issues, but they simply add to the charm of the game, in our opinion. There are also a number of GameCenter achievements to pick up, for those who enjoy such things. A universal app for $2.99, JAZZ: Trump’s Journey is a 4.5-Dimple star.
JAZZ: Trump's Journey Review,