Whether we like it or not as Vita owners, something we have to accept is that the casual games scene dominated by iOS, Android and the PC market dominated by the likes of PopCap and Big Fish Games has lead to an influx of games over the years across the PlayStation family. Whether it’s been hidden object games, match three puzzles, or countless other genres they’ve all made their way over slowly. Even massive mobile hits like Angry Birds have made their way over to the PS3 and Vita so no game is safe. And now, it seems, just like iOS and Android, PlayStation Mobile is going to be flooded with an endless stream of Flappy Bird clones…
We’ve already seen David Martinez’s Trolly Bird released at the end of February 2014 and I have to admit I was more than a little surprised at how much I enjoyed playing that one. Now it’s the turn of Zhang Bo, better known to PSM afficionados for his Sola range of apps, who has created his own variant on the Flappy Bird theme in the shape of Jump Girl. The only question I had when downloading it was whether or not he was going to be able to bring anything new to the game and would it be as addictive as Martinez’s outing…
I don’t think anyone needs the premise behind Flappy Bird explaining any more and if you do need to know more about the basic game, I’ve covered that with my Trolly Bird review. However, Jump Girl has tried to make a few minor changes to the basic formula. Instead of a bird, as the title suggests you’re now controlling a girl and the game takes place – from what I can tell from the graphics – an underground cave. While the setting itself isn’t really that important at least there are no more logic-defying explanations as to why there are pipes descending from the clouds. Instead, there are pillars that you need to negotiate through but at least you can potentially understand how they could be there!
Onto the game itself and the fundamental difference is that your character can now run and does so from the start of the game. Running along the ground before the first set of pillars approach you still tap the screen to jump, it takes on the same approach as many platform games allowing you to tap again to double-jump. Once in the air, the Flappy Bird mechanics take over as repeated tapping will keep you airborne through constant jumping but the key difference with Jump Girl is that it’s not a case of game over if you fall to the ground – you simply continue running. However, as with all of the other clones with such a small gap between pillars it’s pretty wise to start jumping again before you run head first into solid stone! It’s a novel twist to the game and while it doesn’t really expand on the basic gameplay a great deal, it is refreshing to see that some thought has gone into making it a little different beyond being just a basic clone.
It has to be said that one comment many people made about Trolly Bird was that it was difficult and certainly a lot hard than Flappy Bird. Now, there’s nothing wrong with games that offer a bit of a challenge but that’s where Jump Girl struggles. My main – and I would say only – gripe with this game is that gravity seems to be a little overpowering while you play. Once you jump you seem to fall rather rapidly making all but the shortest of progress nigh on impossible. To recover from any fall and to attempt to make it to the next gap needs repeated tapping which inevitably hurls you into one of the incomming pillars. That, combined with the inconsistent collision detection (as you can see from the screenshots), makes the game more frustrating than it should be. Games like this should be frustrating but only in the way that you just miss out on setting a new personal best score, encouraging you to play again but after a while of playing you soon realise that you’re fighting with the controls more than anything else.
I can’t fault this aesthetically. The cave visuals look good with an atmospheric background composed of fossils and layered rock formations while the pillars themselves are well drawn and add to the look of the game further. While the character animation is limited (and it’s hard to really tell that is is a girl as the game says) it still works well overall and doesn’t put you off from playing. Sound fares much better. As with all of the clones available, there are some sparse sound effects during play but accompanying this is a rather soothing piece of music throughout which fits the game remarkably well.
Despite being a quarter of the price of Trolly Bird, Jump Girl really is too frustrating for its own good. Even with the running element adding something new to an already over-saturated genre this is something that needs some refinement before it’s something I could really recommend. If you need a Flappy Bird fix for your Vita, right now there’s only one choice.
At A Glance
- Title: Jump Girl
- Publisher: Zhang Bo
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Local Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 11Mb