It is not everyday we get a new Mega Drive game but the fantastic guys over at indie collective RetroGuru have done just that! Following on from their the first instalment Xump 2 is a simple puzzle game with head scratching brain busters for you to get through. You control Xump, a tiny headbot created by a pioneering astronaut to aid him in clearing space garbage. Your mission is clear each level without falling off the edge or getting stuck. Blocks break away as you hop over them and you must find the perfect path to succeed.
Do not be fooled by the simple graphics, Xump 2 is a hard game with 48 levels to work through. You start with three lives and its game over if you lose them all. Luckily there is a continue feature that saves your progress. The high scores give the added challenge and each level has a timer. You are under pressure from the get go and will kick yourself at times for making mistakes. It is a lot of fun though and even puzzle veterans will get their fix from this new indie title.
Before we dive into the game itself it is worth us having a quick look at the box art and what is inside. Xump 2 is modelled after classic Mega Drive titles of old and will look great on the shelf. It has that retro feel that collectors are after and publisher, DragonBox, has achieved an authentic look. The contents are much what you would expect containing a cart and instruction manual. The instructions are in English and German and the cart is sporting a racing green colour. The package looks really cool and although the manual is a little bare it has everything you need to get started. As an added bonus a postcard is included to please you collectors out there.
The game itself plays much like you would expect. Use the d-pad to control Xump around the blocks and the action buttons to control menus. It is very pick and play and is accessible to everyone. As you pass over blocks they disappear with some blocks requiring you to run over them twice. If you sit on a block too long you will fall off the level and lose a life. If you misjudge your turns it is possible to fall off edges as well. Other blocks include safe blocks that you need to start and finish levels. Teleporters that move you to another part of the level. And zoom blocks that force you in one direction. It all sounds very simple, and it actually is. What is not simple is your race against the clock in trying to find the correct path.
The levels start off quite easy and the overall gameplay has a gentle difficulty curve. The brain busters start to ramp up around level 20 where more complex layouts are presented. You will never feel that you are overwhelmed though, Xump 2 feels fair and you will start to spot patterns as you play. The added challenge of the timer and high score gives you something to aim for and adds to the replay value. On that note, it is hard to see what would make you make you come back once you have completed the main levels. They do get hard towards the end but once you work out each one it is only really the high scores that would bring you back.
Graphically, Xump 2 is simple for a Mega Drive game. It does look like it would belong more at home on an 8-bit console. But they do the job and everything on screen is clear enough to not distract you from your mission. It would have been great to see a little more animation in the character and scenery to break the gameplay up. There is good use of the colour palette and the little full screen cutsecne between levels is impressive.
One of the stand out aspects of Xump 2 is the soundtrack that takes full advantage of the Mega Drive YM capabilities. The tracks pumps along and the title screen is especially impressive in the sound department. You may find yourself bopping your head along from the start and it is actually worth going to the options menu to check them all out. The sound effects are fine and portray the action well if a little muffled in places. But overall the presentation is decent in Xump 2 if not outstanding.
If you enjoy collecting indie Mega Drive titles, Xump 2 is worth the purchase and is a great addition to the collection. Hardcore puzzle fans will enjoy the challenge of trying to 1cc the whole game and casual players will enjoy having a new Mega Drive title to play. While not a classic by any means it is great to see new indie titles for the Mega Drive. Thanks RetroGuru for the chance to review this great game and to DragonBox for sending the copy.