I guess I’m on an indie action platformer kick at the moment, having moved on from Jables’s Adventure right to Jasper’s Journeys. To further blur the line between those two names, I’m going to invent a title called Journey’s Adventures and play that next, right after another go at Journey. I kid, I kid. Though this also means I’m moving backwards in time, which happens when you begin to dig into my laptop’s videogames folder, where I dump a ton of downloads on a nearly daily basis with the hope of checking the games out much sooner than later. Still, Jables’s Adventure came out in 2010, and Jasper’s Journeys is from February 2008. Yowza. I wasn’t even blogging back then.
Anyways, Jasper’s Journeys stars Jasper, who is a Loffin, whatever that is. I think it is a race of people with long, purple hair that have floaty jumps and don’t take any fall damage. I could be wrong on all that. Also, still not sure if Jasper is a young man or woman; for the purposes of this post, I’ll go with female pronouns. Unfortunately, her cat Orlando got kidnapped by an evil witch on a broomstick while playing in the tall grass. Seems like she’s keen to use this cat as an ingredient in some spell she’s concocting, and so it is up to you to save the feline by traversing fifteen levels of danger, platforms, and lots of fruit to collect.
Completing a level is as simple as finding the blue dragon, which will pick Jasper up and take her to the next level. If you find a purple dragon, you’re in luck, as this one will take you to a special island full of fruit, which is your only source of ammunition for taking out the baddies. However, to find this dragon, you’ll have to noodle out some puzzles based around platforming and finding colored keys, as well as fighting off enemies and bosses with health meters. There’s no in-game map, so you’ll have to pay attention to your surroundings and remember where to return to once you have the proper keys in your inventory. Along the way, you can also visit an inn to save your progress, as well as purchase items with acquired gold, like shields and status-affecting potions.
I played on the easiest difficulty settings, and I’m fine with that decision. The most trouble I got myself into involved areas where there were moving spikes on the floor and platforms above and having to take Jasper and make her jump from platform to platform without dipping into the sharp bits below. Naturally, because I’m playing Jasper’s Journeys on a keyboard and not a gamepad, this was more tricky than it needed to be. Also to blame: her floaty jump, which made it challenging to land on platforms now and then, especially when guiding her via the arrow keys. Otherwise, it’s not too challenging of a game, certainly on easy, but I wasn’t looking for a challenge here. Instead, I liked seeing how the levels changed from one to another, with the former focusing on grassy hills and the next tossing you beneath a castle, and though the pixel art never hits any extremes it is still pleasing to the eyes, some eight years later.
The same could be said about Jasper’s Journeys‘ soundtrack, but to your ears, not your eyes. It’s gentle and laid-back when necessary, but can up the tension during boss fights. However, the songs don’t seem to loop after they finish, and because I’m a slow gamer and like to check every nook and cranny for secrets, the majority of a level ended up being played in silence, which is a bit weird. Sound effects for killing enemies and picking up fruit are goofy and call back to the days of mascot-driven platformers on the SNES.
For some reason, it feels more odd to play a game that is only eight years old versus something like Final Fantasy IX. I don’t know why. I guess I’m having a hard time comprehending what the world was like eight years ago, which, all at once, doesn’t seem like too far back, but is also an eternity ago. Both in my life and the industry. The AAA gaming landscape of 2008 consisted of work like Burnout Paradise, Grand Theft Auto IV, Metal Gear Solid 4, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, Braid, Fallout 3, and Fable II. As well as Jasper’s Journeys. I wonder how big of a splash it made; I think I got my copy in late 2011 as part of the Humble Voxatron Debut bundle. Shame it took me nearly five more years to play it. I’ll have to get a jump on Chocolate Castle soon too, I guess.