One giant leap for monster-kind
A lot has certainly happened in the world of mobile gaming since Get Set Games’ original Mega Jump was first released on the App Store in 2010. These days, smartphone and tablet gamers have come to expect things like console-quality graphics, the option for cross-platform play, and of course, a free-to-play model that’s both fair and noninvasive. So can a purely simplistic endless jumping game still manage to take a firm hold today in 2014 as it did in the early days of the App Store? Well in the case of Mega Jump 2, I’ll let my lack of sleep due to playing this game answer that for me: why yes it can, and yes it does.
The gameplay of Mega Jump 2 is built on an interweaving system of jumping and falling, and the mid-game switches between the two are so seamless that you might not even realize it at first. For the majority of each game, you’ll be on the offensive, so to speak: maneuvering your way side to side into gems and coins to keep your upward momentum going strong. But then you’ll hit a stretch of sky where the items are scarce, and the appearance of breakable platforms quickly slows down the action to a careful and precise Doodle Jump experience. And then it’s one more power-up and before you know it, you’re skyrocketing through the clouds without a care once again.
I encountered three different environments throughout my time with the game, although there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to when one background switches over to another: jungle, beach, and a rocky canyon. In addition to these, every environment is filled with all sorts of fun hazards and gameplay mechanics, from baddies that you’ll need to bop on the head, to trickster coins that jump out of the way just as you’re about to nab them, to even a ball-and-chain that serves to seriously put a damper on your jumping potential. Don’t worry though: you’ll have plenty of awesome power-ups to breeze by these obstacles in a jiffy, like my personal favorite, Mega Mode, which makes your monster grow to fill up the majority of the screen and completely wipe out anything and everything that’s floating above him!
Despite using a broader endless design rather than something more level-based, Mega Jump 2 still manages to find an addictive sense of progression to boost up that replay value, and this has to do with your overall score. At the start of the game, I found myself barely able to clear 300 points no matter how far I thought I had actually made it before falling. But every time you complete a set of three “Adventures” in the game, your score will get a permanent multiplier fixture attached to it, starting at 2X, then 3X, and so on. Adventures are the game’s version of a mission system a la Jetpack Joyride, and can include anything from “Collect X amount of coins in one game” to “Use 1 Mega Start.” Complete a few Adventures and pretty soon you’ll be clearing that 1,000 point mark in mere seconds of booting up a new game.
To give players even more incentive to keep on jumping into the great blue yonder, they can also unlock a colorful cast of monsters in addition to the default Redford. The majority of them can be purchased using the coins you earn from playing, while some of the coolest looking ones like Foxworthy the Fox and Dizzy the Dragon will set you back a pocketful of premium currency gems. In addition to those, you can also unlock five other monsters by finding various colored eggs in mystery boxes that you can scoop up during regular gameplay (different egg requirements range from a mere 3 to a whopping 500!). But one of the best new additions in Mega Jump 2 over its predecessor is that now these different characters have their own unique gameplay abilities! For instance, Pepper the Penguin adds an extra 2 seconds to the Embiggenate power-up, an extra 3 seconds to Mega Mode, and to top it all off, a 10% coin bonus.
Unfortunately, after hours spent soaring through the clouds, I began to experience a few performance issues while playing on my iPad 2. At certain points in the middle of a playthrough, the game would seem to stall for one second, freezing the screen; the next thing I knew, my monster would be falling to his demise because of the lag. Other times the game would just crash entirely and boot me back out to my home screen. Another small grievance is that the Adventure tasks can also abuse their purpose on several occasions, by asking you to invite friends and perform other social actions in order to complete them and continue to “progress” in raising your score multiplier.
But even so, you’ll only start to notice these kinds of things after you’ve poured countless hours into jumping high and collecting gems as the rest of the world goes by on that lame old thing we call “the ground.” Mega Jump 2 is the definition of a wonderfully fun and simple arcade game that perfects the addictive “just one more go” mentality, and it’s a formula that other game developers should hope to capture one day. With lots of incentives to keep playing, a fun-loving presentation, and smooth and speedy gameplay mechanics manning the helm, I think I’ll choose the simple arcade game over the big, fancy production any day.