Other than when clearly marked, this writeup contains no spoilers.
Jumper Two is an amazingly addictive freeware game. A sixteen year-old who calls himself YoMamasMama did all of the work for this game, with the exception of a few musical pieces.1 The Canadian author says the game took at least a hundred hours to program, but he lost track. The author wrote the game in a specialized game development platform called Game Maker2. Its programming language has syntax similar to C. Quick fingers are required to perform well in this two-dimensional platformer. The game boasts 60 built-in levels with tons of extras, which require skill to unlock, much like GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64. A level editor is now included, so the possibilities are limitless. The game borrows heavily from Nintendo games. For example, a good portion of the music can be traced to other Nintendo games, such as Perfect Dark, Super Mario Sunshine, and Metroid Prime. The game has a devoted fan base, and YoMamasMama has a forum3 for his endeavors, a link to which is at the end of this writeup. When asked if there was a potential for Jumper Three, he responded, "Most likely, but not for a while."
I found this game while surfing a message board a few weeks ago. The game is quite popular, and the author says he gets between ten and twenty messages about it daily. He is glad that his game has brought so many people joy. Since I found the game, I have been obsessed with it, with few exceptions. After dying more than three hundred times on 5-5, I gave the game a few days' break. Then I got bored and started playing again, breaking for a few days again at 8-1. If you are stuck on a particular level for a prolonged amount of time, you may want to take a few steps back and do something else for a while. After 3800 deaths, I have finally completed the game. It is one of the games that a person can love and hate at the same time.
The player controls a failed laboratory experiment named Ogmo. Ogmo is a red square with short legs and an expression on his face resembling the following emoticon: O_o. Ogmo is not the only character in the game, however. The primary antagonist is The Boss. Secondary antagonists include The Conductor and GostBot. Furthermore, characters similar in appearance to Ogmo appear, the Princess and Upside. Finally, one more character appears, but he has "spoiler" written all over him. I will discuss him later.
There are sixty built-in stages, almost all of which are just one screen large. The stages are in ten groups (called levels) of five and one group of ten. The first fifty stages are the "main" game. Each stage is links thematically with every other stage in the level, with the exception of the last ten. These last ten are the "secret" stages, which have their own special recurring theme. For an example of the recurring theme of the main game's levels, the first five stages take place inside of a Temple, and the palette used is constant in each stage. The primary objective of each stage is simply to get from the start to the end. This takes an average of thirty seconds to do. Of course, not everyone beats every level on the first attempt. Some levels can take up to hours to complete. This is a testament to YoMamasMama's mapmaking ability. For hardcore players, alternative objectives exist. In each level, two gems exist: a blue gem and a red gem. The blue gem is attainable the first time the player goes through the level. The red gem, which is attainable only after the player obtains the blue gem for that level, is often more difficult to get. The game only gives credit for getting a gem if the player finishes the level that attempt without Ogmo dying. In addition to the gems, a time trial mode is available. The game records the player's fastest time each level. After the first fifty levels are completed, the game reveals the total of all the fastest times. Both the gems and the time trial serve another purpose (other than being fiendishly difficult); they unlock secrets in the game. The game has two difficulty modes: normal and easy. The easy mode provides for the player checkpoints, which are yellow gems similar in appearance to the blue and red gems. If Ogmo dies after the checkpoint, he returns to the checkpoint for another attempt. On normal mode, Ogmo returns to the start of the level. Playing on easy mode is not without its drawbacks, though. On the easy mode, the time trial mode is unavailable, and a number of unlockables are, well, un-unlockable. Both the game and I suggest you play the game as intended, on normal mode.
Ogmo can perform a number of different jumps, which I outline below. After jumping, the player loses the ability to control Ogmo for a short time. For the most part, Ogmo spinning out of control represents this period of uncontrollability. While that may sound quite strange, it works well in the game, graphically.
- A simple jump - Ogmo can merely jump right into the air. Performed by hitting the up key.
- A double jump - Ogmo can jump after already being in the air. Performed by hitting the up key when in the air. This can only be performed once until Ogmo touches the ground again. Powerups can alter how double jumps work. Black stars remove Ogmo's ability to double jump, while golden stars regrant it. Golden arrows allow Ogmo to perform another double jump in the current string of jumps. These do not stack, however, so if Ogmo collects two golden arrows without using the first, he still only gets one additional jump.
- A wall jump - Ogmo can rebound off walls if he hits them. Performed by holding the arrow key that is towards the wall and tapping up. These stack indefinitely; there is no limit to how many times Ogmo can wall jump. However, once Ogmo runs out of wall, he obviously cannot wall jump. With the exception of when wind is blowing, wall jumping against a single wall will not allow Ogmo to scale the wall. Conversely, wall jumping between two walls allows Ogmo to ascend, provided they are close enough.
- A skid jump - Ogmo can jump higher than normal into the air but needs running space. Performed by running in one direction, then reversing direction to kick up dirt and pressing up. This can be followed up by a double jump. Ogmo needs about a minimum of three tiles of running to build up enough speed to skid jump. This jump is reminiscent of the skid jump in Super Mario 64.
- A super jump - Ogmo can jump higher than normal with the assistance of a super jump block. Just stepping on the block will launch Ogmo. These blocks come in two varieties: green and orange, and always depict an up arrow on its face. Green super jump blocks allow Ogmo to super jump indefinitely. Orange super jump blocks are a one-time deal and fall apart after launching Ogmo into the air. Ogmo can follow this jump, like the other jumps, with a double jump. Nota bene: landing on these blocks count as landing for double jump purposes.
Cut scenes, rendered in the same fashion as the game itself, tell the Jumper Two story. Ogmo is a failed laboratory experiment from 1888. The lab was trying to produce the ultimate soldier. During World War I, the government shut the lab down and purposefully forgot about all of the experiments. Like all good failed lab experiments, Ogmo escapes.
Spoilers! (read only if you do not intend to play this game!)
I intentionally went light with the softlinks so as not to provide unintentional spoilers.
Soon after the game begins, Ogmo discovers two other experiments like him, Princess and Upside. None of these experiments talk, which sets up some humor later in a James-Bond-like interrogation. Unfortunately, however, the nefarious Conductor confronts them. The Conductor, who has a very strange manner of speaking, captures Ogmo and throws him onto his train. The player learns that some "highly wealthy men" are seeking Ogmo for reasons unknown. Ogmo dispatches The Conductor, but, seeing as how he does not know how to conduct a train, it crashes into a mountain at the end of the train tracks. This knocks Ogmo out, and the player guides him through his psychedelic dreams. Ogmo then wakes up to find himself in a mountain and must escape. At the end of this mountain is another lackey, GostBot, whom the "highly wealthy men" sent to capture Ogmo. GostBot chases Ogmo with the intention to kill him, but then the level ends and then GostBot simply captures Ogmo. The Boss holds Ogmo captive in his factory jail cell. The factory, as The Boss (who is the one seeking Ogmo) states, is to produce an army of OgmoBots. The Boss reveals his amazing army to Ogmo, and then orders them to march on the World Bank to steal all of its money. The OgmoBots begin wandering around aimlessly, which frustrates the Boss to no end. He orders his henchmen to dump the OgmoBots into the ocean and to rid himself of Ogmo. Seconds after launching Ogmo into the snowy mountains surrounding the factory, the scientists working for The Boss come up with a way they can use Ogmo. Thus, The Boss sends GostBot to capture Ogmo yet again. He succeeds, and then Ogmo must escape from the Lab. Ogmo escapes from the Lab, only to find The Boss waiting for him. The Boss reveals his second army, this time of EvilBots. Lightning strikes Ogmo, who transforms into Dark Ogmo. The Boss states that the energy from the lightning striking Ogmo produced enough energy to power his army. The OgmoBots return and defeat most of the EvilBots. The Boss, attempting to kill Dark Ogmo, falls off the wall. Dark Ogmo soon follows. Dark Ogmo defeats The Boss and finds himself at the bottom of The Tower, which is the game's final stage. Due to the OgmoBot/EvilBot struggle, The Tower is about to collapse, and the only way for Dark Ogmo to escape is to go up. At the top of The Tower, Dark Ogmo finds himself in the middle of a conflict between The Boss (who is back from the dead, or, more likely, who never really died), GostBot, Princess, and Upside. Princess and Upside, probably by persuasion, attack Dark Ogmo. The Boss assists. The battle ends when Dark Ogmo reflects some of The Boss' attacks to GostBot. GostBot shoots a beam at The Boss, which destroys him. The explosion kills GostBot and launches Dark Ogmo, Princess, and Upside off the tower. The camera then centers on Dark Ogmo. It pans to the right to reveal the old Ogmo, who is dead. Somehow, he managed to get himself impaled on a spike in the middle of an otherwise empty field. This final cutscene is truly a "what the fuck?" moment. The screen fades to black and says "The End"
A game as great as Jumper Two obviously has its shortcomings. The ones I have noticed so far include:
- The game consumes a lot of RAM and CPU time. This game uses more than 60MB of my RAM. Nothing else running on my computer comes close. If you are running Windows XP and want to check for yourself how much memory your programs are running, hit Ctrl + Alt + Del and go to the Processes tab. It also eats up a lot (20% or so on my computer) of the CPU time. Granted, this may not be the fault of the programmer, but rather of the platform used.
- Music causes problems. When the music loops, the game pauses for a second or so. This can be devastating if the player is in a crucial double-jumping scenario. Devastating to the degree of "Fuck this game, I'll go play Super Mario 3." My suggestion? Turn the music off. It is always available in the music section of the unlockables.
- Sometimes the game crashes. This is especially true in level 5-5, which is almost unique. This should not be much of a problem, because the game saves itself whenever the player achieves something new. However, if you are playing level 5-5, you should completely exit the game every so often to ensure that you do not lose progress.
- The keys are set in stone. As I touched upon in The Controls section of this writeup, the five keys of this game are not remappable. One of my friends had the complaint that the game would be significantly easier if he could map the jump button to the space bar. It was not a problem for me, but YMMV.
- Wall jumping is awkward. One of my other friends claimed, "The controls contradict the wall jumping standard." He (as well as the official wall jumping standards committee) thinks that wall jumping should involve pushing the arrow key AWAY from the wall, as opposed to toward it. Both the author of the game and I agree, the way the game does it is just fine. I have had no problems, and I have beaten the game.
- The game is insanely addictive. Like, Surgeon General's warning addictive. Yet another friend told me, "I'm almost mad at you for introducing this." The game is easy to learn, but difficult to master.
- Turn the music off! As discussed before, the music periodically slows the game down, often at the worst possible moment. Pop in a Tool CD and listen to that instead.
- Having trouble on a particular level? Play earlier levels to get gems or to reduce times. That way, you are not getting too frustrated at the game. You are also improving yourself, so you have a greater chance of beating that difficult level. Finally, you are unlocking more stuff! If this does not work, try taking a break from the game for a bit. Contribute to the nodegel or something.
- Try making your own levels. The author recently (at the time of this writeup) released the level editor. That will give you a greater appreciation for the mapmaking skills of the author.
- The author, YoMamasMama. I asked him a few questions via e-mail.
- http://www.cs.uu.nl/people/markov/gmaker/ - The Game Maker homepage.
- http://www.grdgamers.com/test2/viewforum.php?f=22 - The official fora for YoMamasMama's creations.
- http://helix.grdgamers.com/games.html - The game's website.
- http://www.gameshade.com/dex/YMM/JumperTwo.zip - A direct link to the game -- use only if YMM's page is having problems.
- And, of course, the game itself.