Party games have long been a household must for me while growing up. From sleepovers to holidays, party games have always been there to make and break relationships in the best way possible. Whether it be classics like Mario Party or newer hits like the Jackbox Party Pack series, I love and have always loved party games. Jump Stars is Jamit Games foray into this genre, bringing two to four player action to current gen consoles. Players partake in a sinister game show that not only pits them against each other, but forces them to work together as well. In this 2-D battle royal, there can only be one winner, regardless of how much work is done as a team. This combo results in unique take on the genre, one that offers some solid fun albeit with limited accessibility.
Jump Stars, the titular game show, is hosted by an evil bi-polar cube. After burning through funds to support the show, he no longer has money to support a grand prize. This drives him even madder than he already is, resulting in his contestants now becoming captives. But, the show must go on. The new prize? The winner gets to keep their life, and not succumb to a fiery death like the other three. Sounds simple enough right? Win the games, get the points, and get out of there. Well, as I mentioned earlier, this cannot be done without a little cooperation. Jump Stars has the oh-so unique feature known as “Team Score”. In order to compete in a final “fight for your life” round, the players must work together to earn team score in the four randomized events leading up to the end. Team Score is earned by activating floor panels that match your color, so balancing a mini-games objectives while also earning team score can be quite the task. Earn enough team score, then everyone gets to head to the gauntlet, which I will touch on soon.
Before taking part in the games, players get to choose from 20 differently skinned characters. Each cube is cutely decorated as either some themed character or smart pop culture reference, like Captain Smirk, who is clearly a fan of Star Trek. These cubes really give life and personality to the game, supporting the already crazy and entertaining host, who comes off as a b-rate Mark Hamill-esque joker. The games themselves are equally charming, though limited in variety. There are not many games, but a few stand out. Cool-aid sees every competitor fighting for an air-condition spot on the map, lest they catch on fire. All throughout this event, as well as the others, players can punch each other to keep a comfortable distance and a commanding position. Another favorite of mine is a game that has everyone race to eat pies that spawn on the level. If you get too skinny, it’s game over! Others are more survival style, and have objectives like avoiding falling totems, dodging bars to stay atop a podium, and avoiding falling floor panels, which are more the standard affair. In the end though it is all worth it to compete in the gauntlet, which is a fast paced final event where everyone races to the right, as deadly traps not only follow but wait along the whole path until only one competitor is alive. It is a great pay off for working together since that is the only way to get to compete in this game. Aside from this tournament mode, you can create your own show with whatever mini-games and the games particular maps that you prefer.
All of this is enjoyable locally, and more so with a full set of four. With 2 people, it is just not quite the same experience, and sadly you cannot have computer controlled characters fill in the gaps, which also means zero playability in single player. Without an online mode to further fill that gap, the games approachability is very narrow, offering limited appeal outside of the usually fun local multiplayer mode. At least it gets the intended way to play (4 players locally) done very well, with balanced and fun mini-games that offer a very unique take on the genre. I like what it does in this sense, bringing forward fun times in a charming, inviting package. With solid controls and enough variety to keep the gameplay interesting, Jump Stars is not a bad investment of your time, but if you do not have readily available parties to play with, it may not be the best investment of your money. As far as local multiplayer titles go though, Jump Stars has some shine to it, and if you are a dedicated and willing participant of the genre, it definitely deserves a chance to be in your library.
Final Score: 7/10
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