Sure, most games in the Xbox Live Indie Games section are gimmicks featuring avatars or somewhat short-lived, but every so often, a gem comes along that just separates itself from the rest. Jump'n Bounce, a game developed by DeRail Games, is a retro arcade-style title that is both addicting and well-made.
The game is the first of three "new retro arcade" titles that DeRail will be releasing into the Xbox Live Indie Games library featuring the smile emoticon, Hug. Jump'n Bounce requires you to get from the start point of a level to the goal, which is represented by a large star, much like in the Mario 64/Mario Galaxy titles. While the mission is simple, actually completing the mission is not always so easy.
Much like most arcade titles, the first couple of levels act as an easy tutorial, building the confidence of the player, while teaching them the ropes of the game. The learning curve is a sharp one, however, as the next few levels will likely knock the player down and have them begging for mercy.
Each level contains checkpoints and several obstacles, including spark-like creatures that move in simple, predetermined patterns, to Sonic the Hedgehog-esque spikes. Touch any of these obstacles and Hug will explode and he will be transported back to the last checkpoint.
Along the way, Hug will be able to collect retro sprites that will give the player bonus points and extra lives, which will be VERY valuable as the levels get more and more difficult later in the game. Luckily, if you run out of lives, there is a continue option at the main title screen.
With most levels, the player will be able to determine for themselves what the path of least resistance is. In an ingenious turn of level-design, DeRail decided to include several paths in each of the levels. Some will be there for the beginners to just simply pass through, while other paths will be there for the high-scorers and speed demons.
Everything about this game's presentation screams "retro," which is the main goal of the title. The entire level is presented at all times, which allows players to plot their every move out before they get to hopping and prevents players from hopping into a hidden danger due to awkward camera angles. Overall, the entire game is just one big nod to the designers that forged the way for the current kings of video games.
Just like the retro arcade titles, there is an actual high-score leaderboard, which allows for name entry. If you're the kind of person that shares your Xbox with someone else, this will definitely spark some great competition. Entering the game, only to see that your roommate has beaten your latest high-score is one of the greatest motivators to try and improve.
The gameplay feels tight and responsive. As Hug, you have three ways to move. You can jump, which is the base move, you can double tap the jump button and perform a valuable double jump, and you can slam Hug down hard after a jump, which will allow him to break through the softer bricks and get him to the jewels and 1-Ups.
With all the praise we've given the title, we haven't even covered the best part of the title: the price. While this probably could've passed for a $5 title on the Xbox Live Arcade, this title is able to be added to your library for the measly sum of $1 (80 Microsoft Points). With all of the prices going up on Xbox Live, it's nice to find a great value like this.
That being said, if you're a fan of classic platforming and feel like administring yourself a healthy dose of nostalgia without the dated-feeling, you'd be foolish not to pick this title up. Even if you're worried about the lack of features and modes, which can be an issue for those extended play-sessions, you'd be foolish to skip the free trial mode, which will give you a perfect glimpse into what this game is really all about. Jump'n Bounce is easily one of the top titles, if not THE top title, in the Xbox Live Indie Arcade. The bar has been set by DeRail Games for all Indie developers.