The sky is falling in Juri Schupilo’s new puzzle platformer Jumponaut. Promises of combo multipliers and high scores ring true, but is this one title worth mastering?
When Jumponaut says that it is minimalistic in their Steam description, they truly mean it – what you see is what you get. The ultimate goal is to survive as long as possible from a never-ending stream of falling blocks. By lining up a series of blocks, players can make them disappear and net some points in the process, a la Tetris. Players can achieve chains by clearing consecutive rows without a break, incentivizing people to build up the surrounding area before luring the block into an empty gap.
This is far easier said than done though. For one, the hitbox on your Android-like creature is utterly broken. Expect to take a block or five to the noggin due to how poor this is. This is made that much worse by the speed that the blocks fall. The default speed is plenty fast, but it quickly picks up the pace before too long. It can be hard to time jumps just right and hover over gaps, even with a double jump.
To make matters worse, there is an electrified deadzone to the left and the right of each stage, and blocks with spikes on them that take away battery. Perhaps the worst offender are the pits that you can get stuck in – build high enough, and it’s literally impossible to progress. This happened to us on more than one occasion, making playthroughs frustrating.
There is one other block players can utilize in Jumponaut – the battery block. This is one block that players actually want – hitting it provides immediate benefits. Players can also activate it by having another block fall on it and then clearing a row. Doing this nets some killer combos, but there’s an air of randomness to it. Something a bit more straightforward would have gone a long way.
Players can experience the game in either Score Rush or Extend Time. Players can earn points in Score Rush, while players can net additional battery time from each cleared crate in Extend Time. Both more or less play out the same, and though there are a number of variables that can be tweaked, most players will see everything this game has to offer in less than an hour.
A co-op and versus mode are also available for those who want to bring a friend along, but this proves to be more frustrating than fun. Blocks alternate between players, meaning that one player will likely be waiting their turn. It can get frustrating, and adds an unnecessary amount of challenge to the title. Versus feels a little wonky too, with an air of randomness throughout.
Jumponaut has got his heart in the right place, but its puzzle platforming formula just provides far too much frustration for any extended period of time.
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