The idea of a multiplayer platformer that puts you and your friends in challenging situations sounds awesome. However, does Jump Stars' gameplay live up to its clever premise?
Before I start the review, I should warn you: Jump Stars cannot be played solo. Therefore, if you're a lone gamer then there will be no point whatsoever in purchasing it as you can only play it with local friends. With that out of the way, let me move on to what Jump Stars is all about. It's basically a twisted game show with a host who has a split-personality. He turns from being a cheesy presenter to a sinister villain at the drop of a hat. This is reflected in the gameplay as you play both competitively and cooperatively. In essence, you work together with your friends to achieve as high of a team score as you can while also trying to sabotage each other so you can earn the largest personal score. The visuals are quite nice with loads of charming little unique cube characters to play as and lively sets. The music is equally well done with upbeat tracks that'll get you bobbing your head as you play.
Jump Stars is played by gliding your character of choice around 2D stages while jumping and punching in different directions. These stages mostly involve having each contestant hop to their respective colour platform in order to gain Team Score and the stage isn't over until only one contender remains. Meanwhile, some stages task players with eating as many pies as they can and they waste away if they can't gobble up enough of them. In the end, the simplistic core gameplay is easy to pick up and play with a few friends and can make for an enjoyable round or two of gaming with pals as you simultaneously cooperate and compete through many distinct stages.
You can play Jump Stars in either predefined tournaments or your own custom shows with two to four players. The stages themselves come in varieties that include Calamity (avoid moving obstacles), Cool Aid (step on cold platforms to stop catching fire), Downfall (descend a stage as fast as you can), Scramble (ascend a stage as fast as you can), Stomp (dodge hazards that can crush you from above), Quick Dip (play while platforms collapse), Tailspin (jump over rotating arms), TNT Tag (pass the TNT like a game of hot potato), Hunger Pains (the previously mentioned pie-eating mode), and The Gauntlet (a final race full of different hazards). As you can see, there is plenty of variety when it comes to stage types and with 25 individual stages to master, that's quite a decent amount of fun to be had.
Unfortunately, the core gameplay itself may be a little too simplistic even with the variety of stages. All you do is merely run and jump around which is fun for a short while but it starts to become repetitive quite early on. Another issue is that even though the gameplay is basic, the scoring system is needlessly convoluted. You never know if you're supposed to work together or try and make your friends bite the dust. It'll have you and your buddies confused while you try and figure it out which is counterintuitive for a party game. I think Nintendo got this cooperate while competing dynamic right with their classic Balloon Fight. Anyway, the only other negative point is that the humour is cringe-worthy. The fact that the host has two personalities adds to the confusion yet he always butts in with jokes so dumb that they're not worth interrupting the gameplay for. I wish you had the option to turn him off.
Jump Stars is a mostly enjoyable multiplayer party game with simple yet fun single-screen 2D platforming gameplay within a variety of stages. That being said, the dual nature of its premise will make most gamers scratch their heads.
- + Simple platforming party fun for up to four simultaneous players
- + Large variety of stages to master
- + Appealing graphics and music
- - Simple gameplay setup gets stale after playing for a while
- - Convoluted scoring system
- - Humour will make you shake your head