‘What the fffuu-?’ is the phrase of the day in this batshizzle crazy title which is less the adventure-puzzler that it pretends to be and more a series of jokes that run an even 50/50 on the hit-and-miss scale.
You play Pollyblank, a thoroughly useless spy in a cyber-punk world gone bonkers. On your travels you will explore exotic climes varying from an idyllic beach resort, to the busy nightlife of Japan and the innards of a computer among others, propelled around the world on a number of ludicrous missions that include reclaiming someone’s internal organs and facing-off against your arch-nemesis in a game of mini-golf followed by a bout of gravy-boat racing. Look – it’s hard to put all the insanity into words.
You play the game in the first-person and are set free to explore the different areas you are dropped off in. There are puzzles, but they’re little more than brief nods towards gameplay – they’re simple to a fault. One mission has you trying to get into a kitchen; however a chef blocks your way. Talk to him and he tells you ‘You cannot enter. Also, I am afraid of spiders.’ Of course the painful segue is a joke in and of itself and just in case you didn’t get the hint, the woman next to him feels the need to tell you she’s seen seven spiders around the room. Collect them in a jar and throw them in his face to the sound of unnervingly real screams. Simple. Perhaps too simple? BUT the simplicity is kind of the point: the puzzles are there to give you just enough of a sense of playing a game to stop you from simply resorting to a ‘Let’s play’, but are easy enough that they don’t break up the bullet-quick pace of the game; if you wander the world just searching for the next step, you’ll realise how empty it is when you look past the jokes.
And it’s the jokes that are the whole point of this odd little diamond in the rough. Jazzpunk feels more like an interactive version of a Zucker Brothers movie (Airplane!, Naked Gun, Scary Movie) than an actual game, with visual gags and meta-jokes aplenty. You’ll see game references left, right, and centre, meet an armless Hunter S. Thompson and hear plenty of hilariously bad comedy accents. The game can be rushed through in a few hours but to get the most out of it you have to speak to everyone: nearly every character has a series of amusing lines to spout at you and poke at everything: there are a hundred mental things to interact with. There’s also a number of weird mini-games to enjoy: enter the classic Konami cheat code, as told to you by the Scottish receptionist at the Hotel Resort help desk, and you get booted into a game of Wedding Qake, a Quake-like in which you have to shoot people with champagne bottles and three-tiered wedding cake mini-guns to get them to marry you.
Is it actually funny? Yeah, sure, most of the time. On occasion I laughed out loud and on others I just said ‘huh?’ but for the most part my default setting was 'charmed smirk'. I don’t want to ruin any of the jokes for you so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
What else... Graphics? Simple, but the art style is cool. Sound? The music is great and the voice acting is amusingly bad. Run-time? Short, but that's for the best.
What more can I say? It’s short, it’s bonkers, it’s hilarious and it’s barely a game.
Jazzpunk (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
It’s short, it’s bonkers, it’s hilarious and it’s barely a game.