When Xbox Live Arcade launched it was clear from the start that this gracious idea was to allow the smaller developers a chance to publish unique ideas and get innovative titles available to the Xbox owning masses. The problem with this download service is the quality of available games is dropping as each week goes by. Now that’s not to say all the games released on this weekly basis are dire, far from it. Such surprising titles like Carcassone and Small Arms have provided fresh original fun, but other titles lack the enjoyment required for the seemingly common 800 point asking price. Unfortunately Screwjumper! is one of these games.
The games premise is for you (an irate mine worker hell bent on destruction) to dive down a mine and destroy as many platforms as you can, once you reach the bottom of the mine, you blow it up and escape. This is all that forms the seemingly mundane and simple gameplay mechanic which you find yourself repeating for every other level the game offers (in the form of individual planets). During a typical level you must destroy the green platforms and avoid anything red. In an attempt to make this plain gameplay more interesting you can also use dynamite to destroy any objects (red ones!) that may be blocking your free falling path. Through obliterating platforms and objects, and completing levels you earn pointless points and money which you can’t spend, although comparing scores on the leaderboards does add a competitive edge for those that desire it.
Completing a level can sometimes be no easy task due to the aim being slightly a skew (and self centred; literally), in addition to this the physics ostensibly attempt to trick the player, as the gravity seems on a whole, sluggish. With all of this combined, along with sometimes unclear goals, failure and ‘game over’ become a common sight and it can become undesirable to continue fairly quickly.
If you desire some variation in your mine destruction, then Screwjumper! can help; somewhat. The game offers the choice of playing with any one of six various characters, with unlockables to boot. Unfortunately these characters posses no unique properties other than purely aesthetical ones. Little variation can be found in the various levels either, with each mine differing slightly in length and appearance and little else, don’t expect massive degrees of change as you progress as you will not find it. Bland mines all round.
Screwjumper does a few things right, to begin with it looks good for an Arcade game; with sufficient graphics. In addition it has a decent online component as well as additional (unlockable) gameplay modes like Time Attack, Endurance and Race. To supplement this already average Arcade experience Screwjumper contains a simple yet attractive navigation and fairly decent music score.
Despite its basic merits this top down action game, developed by US based Frozen Codebase, is not worth the asking price. Too basic in gameplay, and sluggish in execution. Weak, don’t let this game screw you out of 800 points.