Weekly Shonen Jump is a popular manga publication in Japan. Each week the featured artists release the latest episode in their respective series (usually about 20 pages or less), and these episodes are published in one big magazine.
Famicom Jump, a crossover RPG, tried to capitalize on the popularity of favorite Japanese pastimes: reading Jump, and playing video games. This game would have failed miserably in North America, but in Japan the cultural influence of manga cannot be underestimated.
The game features mini games in a variety of genres, Action style combat, and of course the usual RPG fare (walking around the world map, dialogue boxes, etc.). It’s kind of a mixed bag. I won’t deny that it’s a relatively fun game, but it’s not without its obvious flaws and shortcomings.
For one thing, the game never comes out and spells out anything for you. It’s incredibly cryptic. You’re not really sure of your objectives and goals in the game, except that you’re supposed to defeat the evil Piccolo. There are NPCs who dispense various “hints” but they’re always roundabout and indirect, and you’re never sure exactly how they pertain to your situation.
The game only increases in complexity when you obtain the time machine. Sometimes this means you have twice the work to do, because you need to meet new party members in the past and the present! Other times, going to the past has no effect at all, and you can’t enter any of the cities or dungeons. And still other times you can enter them when you have met certain criteria. Again, most of the time the game isn’t entirely clear on when you’re supposed to move on and there can be penalties for entering certain areas before you’re supposed to.
Sometimes you’re supposed to lose the mini games before the story progresses, but again, it’s never entirely clear when. Let’s just say it’s a hard game to beat without a good guide.
Famicom Jump is notoriously difficult and frustrating in the long tradition of arduous Famicom games (like Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest). That is to say, this isn’t the only game that caused people a lot of grief. The passwords in this game were unnecessarily long, and this is not a game you would want to complete in one sitting. Thank God I was able to use an emulator this time.
The controls are responsive and simple enough. With some mini games it’s hard to tell what you’re supposed to do, so it’s a matter of trial and error. The mini games are pretty fun, but the combat is monotonous, and the tasks are painstaking and cryptic.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the graphics, but the game still looks decent enough. You can tell there was a lot of work that went into it; it’s just a shame they didn’t pay more attention to the gameplay.
Sound & Music
There were some good themes in this game and overall a good variety. Unfortunately some of the themes are all too repetitive and ill-composed. Again, you can tell someone put a lot of work into this, but it’s too bad the game itself doesn’t really live up to it; some of its parts are better than the sum.
This game had some high moments and some low moments. I was able to complete it, but only with the help of multiple guides. I’m not sure how anyone ever figured it out, and this is something that should have been addressed in the Beta stage. I’m pretty sure that there were areas in the game I never explored, and I guess it was never necessary. Don’t attempt the game if a) you don’t understand Japanese, and b) you don’t have a guide.