We like Twisted Pixel Games. We like them a lot. With stonking XBLA hits The Maw and Splosion Man behind them, the Texas-based studio has already made one hell of a name for itself. With a talent for making accessible but fiendishly-hardcore games, and a sense of humour so perverse it should have to sign an offenders’ register, TP are definitely our kind of people. So much so, that we officialised that sentiment in this feature from last year.
And now Twisted Pixel's much-anticipated third game has started to emerge. First teased in the above trailer at last year’s Penny Arcade Expo, Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley sticks to the 2D platforming roots of Splosion Man (something we’re very happy about, as TP does a great line in tight side-scrolling design), but where that last game riffed with furious invention on Donkey Kong Country’s cannon barrel sections, Comic Jumper looks to be far closer to the likes of Contra, Gunstar Heroes and Viewtiful Joe.
Playing as the eponymous comic book hero Captain Smiley (who wears his own sidekick in the form of the grouchy star logo on his costume), you’ll blast, jump and fight your way through five differently-styled books (Sin City, The Dark Knight Returns and even the Powerpuff Girls are all hinted as references in the teaser trailer), with the game’s visual design changing to fit with each transition.
We haven’t seen the various art styles in action yet, but the teasers briefly seen in the teaser look to be pitch-perfect pastiches of their source material, so expect some very clever and visually impressive mash-ups as the game progresses. We love the comic book text littering the levels, and we’re already blown away by the dynamic and seamless blending of 3D graphics and comic book panels during scene transitions. Make no mistake. Visually, this one is going to be a stunner
The gameplay looks as tight as we’ve come to expect from Twisted Pixel, but so far the character-based comedy is, if anything, the funniest and sharpest they’ve ever written. The interplay between the densely inept Captain S and his cynical, no-bullshit star logo (named Star) is fantastic, but our favourite cast member so far is level one boss Brad, a vacuous, over-muscled every-jock with an entourage of bubble-headed, cheerleader-style robo-babes. He even has his own cheesy, ‘90s-style R ‘n’ B theme tune espousing his virtues.
It’s this kind of attention to character and comedic detail that really sets Twisted Pixel’s work apart from that of most other devs working in the downloadable field, and having seen how the studio’s talents have progressed in just less than a year since the already brilliant Splosion Man, we’re frankly giddy with excitement over Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley. It’s currently slated for release some time this year, but whenever it’s eventually ready, it can’t be soon enough.