I adore difficult games. Games that challenge you to push harder and get better until you’ve achieved victory are always satisfying when done right. Tactical Leaping Adventure – Jump King: There is a Smoking Hot Babe at the Top!, or Jump King for short, immediately struck that chord.
The initial trailer for the game perfectly displays the loop you will be caught in for hours. Your goal in Jump King is simple. Jump to the top of the map to get to the “smoking hot babe” at the top. The catch here is that if you miss a jump, and are very unlucky you can plummet back down to the beginning of the game. Level 1.
At first, it will feel like a giant middle finger emerged from the sky and smacked you back to the start of the game until it all clicks. It brings to mind difficulty curves akin to Get Over It. You must endlessly struggle and maneuver accurately if you are to have a single chance at victory. Even more than that, it requires patience. Jump King will brutalize you if you lack that quality.
The only controls in Jump King are your ability to move around, jump, and aim the jump based on the direction you are holding the left analog stick. This simplicity helps keep you focused on the end goal, moving upward.
One thing that might be a problem for some is that you have no way to see on screen, through some sort of UI, how high you are going to jump. You have to time it based on how long you are holding down the A button.
A meter or bar showing you the power of the jump would have been incredibly helpful. An arrow indicator or some sort of directional indicator for aiming the jumps would also be helpful. Though this is definitely an intentional omission. The devs wanted to keep things simple and focused. There is only jumping, and you must repeat this to yourself like a Buddhist mantra.
It doesn’t detract enough from the experience to make it a real problem. Moreso an issue of preference. Having the ability to either unlock those as features in other runs or turn them on and off in the settings would have been useful, but the omission is a minor complaint at best.
Art and Sound
The art of Jump King is a beautiful pixel art homage with excellent touches between each level keeping the style fresh, and rewarding you for making it to the next screen. The promise of a smoking hot babe at the top is another great motivator to reach the top. Each area feels fresh and unique, and matches the soundtrack in tone.
The soundtrack itself is beautiful. Composed by musicians Nils Eklöf and Elias Thörnlund of Thörnlund & Eklöf Sound, and they deserve major praise for the work that they’ve done here. Not only is the music quality, but they also hit a high quantity too. There are 18 tracks in the base game, 12 more in New Babe+ (their cheeky NG+ mode), and another 9 in “Ghost of the Babe” mode. Each with their own unique style and tone for the mode they reside.
The music helps carry you upward through the many falls you will take on this journey. It also helped keep my frustrations low, as not only did I want to see what the next area looked like but sounded like. I craved that accomplishment.
A little background on me, I love difficult games. I’m enough of a masochist that I enjoy doing Soul Level 1 runs in Dark Souls with no armor, and actively seek out other difficult games. I am ashamed that this diamond of difficulty slipped past my radar until now.
Jump Kings‘ difficulty is no joke. On one particular run, I made it up to the fourth area before an ill-timed jump landed me right back at the beginning. It was a crushing defeat made even sourer by the giggles of the old man in the pit on the first level.
Become familiar with this and Jump King rewards you. Yes, you will face crushing defeat countless times, but that just makes victory all the sweeter. The key here to this difficulty not feeling forced is really Jump King‘s simplicity. Hold A to Jump, hold longer for longer jumps, and aim them.
This is all that the game asks of you. Though a simple feat on paper, it becomes a rewarding grind where you do feel as if you’ve gotten better on each run. By the time that I’d gotten to the fifth area eight times, I felt like I breezed through it on the ninth.
Cut to 5 mins later to find me at the first level after a horribly timed jumped on 10. Landing with an enjoyable thud I wasn’t mad, I was determined to finish.
Jump King gets this right. The difficulty doesn’t necessarily feel cheap and I was never really frustrated. I know that had I aimed and timed that jumping better I could have probably climbed upwards another few levels.
Like, Get Over It before it, Jump King wants you to rise from the ashes of defeat and forge onward. At no point did this feel forced, and I never got frustrated to the point of rage. I realized that my one goal is no longer the babe at the top. It was the perfect run.
So what happens once you’ve beaten it? The good news is that Jump King delivers with more. As I mentioned earlier with the soundtrack, there are two other modes that you can experience entirely, New Babe +, and Ghost of the Babe mode. NB+ works as an expansion to the game with new levels and challanges for the most diehard. Ghost of the Babe does so as well with different paths.
Jump King delivers a lot of content to you in a nice little package. It also proves to be more than the sum of its parts. Even though it wears its inspirations from Get Over It gameplay and Dark Souls tone on its sleeve it carves out its own place in the landscape. This is sure to become a very popular title amongst speedrunners and streamers, and for good reason. Not only is it fun to play, but it’s also fun to watch, and not many games can achieve that sentiment.