Featuring hectic gameplay, a psychotic game show host, and incentive to betray your teammates, Jump Stars might just fill the recent void of interesting and fun party games. I believe games like these are awesome when spending time with friends and family that don’t game as often. From what I’ve seen, there are several different minigames and more than a few goofy cubed characters to play as. These minigames make up the title’s actual gameplay while the characters are purely cosmetic. While I worry if there is enough content for some people, I can say that I am excited to see how Jump Stars does once it fully releases. Although it doesn’t have a set release date, Jump Stars is coming to Xbox One this summer.
To best explain what Jump Stars is, I would like to walk through my first interaction with the game. Upon booting it up, I am greeted by a cube in a suit who has bags under his eyes that is warming up in the mirror. Shortly after this, the same cube attempts to introduce the game. Some failed attempts later and the host has given up and decides to explain that the players aren’t actually contestants, they are captives who will fight for their lives in his demented game show. This whole scene is all the intro I needed and got me excited to hear from the host more in the future.
The fact that players will be attempting to gain their freedom instead of some status or a material prize is definitely a different take on the usual formula. Adding to this, if a player wants to be in first place, they will have to kill off their teammates in order to get the biggest cut of the team’s overall score, but more on this later. The idea of cooperating with people until the moment they aren’t needed creates a dynamic in the game that others have failed to create before.
This entire ‘deadly game show’ set-up translates to gameplay nearly seamlessly. While it can be played by two people in a sort of head-to-head scenario, the game’s minigames shine brightest when a full group of four try to survive Tournament mode. Tournament mode is the main way to play and has players try their hands at four random minigames, all narrated by our looney host. There are also many modifiers that seem to randomly hinder the players that are trying to cooperate. In each minigame, players will have the chance to earn team score by activating platforms that match the color of their character.
The idea is for the team to get 1,500 team score in all four minigames in order to test their luck with the Gauntlet. Even though I did a lap or two around this ridiculous obstacle course, I didn’t see an actual end in sight. If any player would like to try and take the first place spot (sometimes even ruining the group’s chance at playing the Gauntlet), they can try to sabotage their teammates by getting in their way or even punching them into certain death.
If Tournament mode doesn’t interest you (or rather your group), then you can try the game’s My Show mode. This mode allows players to pick up to nine minigames to play, without having to gain the 1,500 team score on each. The Gauntlet is even selectable here for those that would like to hone their skills. While My Show doesn’t require players to work together, it is still the best way to play since the team score is split into four percentages once any minigame ends.
No matter how you play, the various minigames are fun and conjure up memories of games such as Fuzion Frenzy. Whether players are dodging a spinning arm, being careful not to get smashed by ceiling hammers, or simply eating enough pie to stay fat (don’t ask), it’s always entertaining. Personally, I played with a group of four and we had a blast no matter who won or knocked who out.
In the interest of sharing all my thoughts and experiences with the game I feel I have skipped over a few important details. First, the whole game looks well enough and shouldn’t bother the casual gamer at all. Secondly, the music in the game is great and catchy, but very repetitive since the same song plays nearly all the time. Third I’d like to mention that I did experience some slowdown and framerate drop when playing with four players on some of the more hectic minigames. Finally, I’ll mention that this game is still in development so there’s a chance some of these gripes will be addressed before the final release. Even if they aren’t, I can see myself pulling this game out anytime I have friends over that want to play.