Jump, Step, Step
Switch version tested
Review code provided
Jump, Step, Step… turn, program a bunch of stuff, pull your hair out…
There’s nothing I love more than a good platformer. Games like Mario, Mega Man, Duck Tales, and (of course) Shovel Knight have all brought me countless hours of fun and joy. Jump, Step, Step brings it’s own little bit of uniqueness to the genre, adding in a strategic command system to guide your character from point A to point B.
Bob the robot has crash-landed on a strange planet and in doing so, has lost most of his limbs. You have to use logic and strategy to guide Bob to his limbs and ultimately his rocket ship so he can go home. Not much of a story, but that’s not the main attraction here.
The gameplay is really unlike anything I’ve ever seen. See, you don’t guide Bob in the traditional sense of controlling his walking and jumping through levels. Instead, you input a list of commands to move him from one point to another, usually landing on a body part or power-up.
You start with 3 simple commands: step forward, turn left, and turn right. As you continue, you unlock more commands. They start off easy enough, adding a jump command, as well as a wait command to instruct Bob to wait for a trap to activate and walk by once it’s safe. There’s also a repeat command that will loop a certain command until it’s no longer necessary. Soon after, though, is where it gets complicated.
This is when the true “programming” comes into play. You soon unlock an algorithm type command where, depending on which direction Bob is facing, you’ll input another series of commands. With the placement of Bob being completely random, you’ll have to program four different commands to guide him down the correct path. Of course, the correct path could lead him to another tile where you’ll have to create another algorithm branch and program another four commands. This is where the difficulty jumps dramatically.
The puzzles go from simple strategy to advanced programming within the first 20-30 minutes. This might not be as big of a problem if it wasn’t for the instructions. It’s pretty obvious that English is not the developer’s first language. While that may not be a problem with normal platformers, it definitely hinders this one. It took a lot of guesswork for me to figure out the repeat command and even more to figure out the algorithm branches. But then again, I am an old punk rocker and my brain cell count ain’t quite what it used to be, so this could just be a me problem.
While the graphics and soundtrack are nothing too impressive, the gameplay is most certainly a breath of fresh air. But how quickly Jump, Step, Step goes from lighthearted simple puzzles to pull-your-hair-out frustrating endeavours and the translation of the instructions can turn away a lot of gamers. But for the price of only $4.99/£4.49, I’d say it’s worth trying if not just for the unique gameplay.
TBG Score: 6/10
Platform: Steam, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 13/03/2020
No. of Players: 1
Developer: Phung Games
Publisher: Hidden Trap
Download link: eShop