Tag Archives: Jumping Flash!

Tower of Heaven is a tough, rule-stacking platformer

tower of heaven final overall imp

Much like with Persist, I am finding myself drawn to platformers that really mix the genre up so that it is no longer simply about jumping left to right, down to up. Those simplistic actions are totally fine, given that that’s where this genre really began with Super Mario Bros. and Alex Kidd in Miracle World, but eventually the premise wears thin, and there needs to be something else tossed into the machine to create a different style of play.

Again, in Persist, you lost abilities, like being unable to swim in water or even jump, which made traditional platforming problematic and demanded you figure out a way around regardless. In Fez, which is probably more puzzler than platformer, you could rotate the level to traverse to new areas, find hidden secrets, and see everything in a new light. Braid had you playing with time. Sonic the Hedgehog, which I’ve never been good at, placed more of an emphasis on speed than straightforward platforming, and 3D titles like Jumping Flash! took advantage of a rather unique and challenging perspective for platforming purposes, with the camera locked in first person mode, which made leaping to extreme heights both exhilarating and disorienting. And awesomely, I could list other examples, but I think that’s decent for now.

Well, in Askiisoft’s Tower of Heaven, our game of the moment, there’s a rule book you acquire early on, and if you don’t follow the rules, you die–plain as paper. Designed to look like a Game Boy romp of old, this challenging platformer looks more innocent than it really is. By the time you pick up the second or third rule, it’s just as difficult as the masochistic platformers of this past generation–I guess I can say that now since we’re moving on to the next one with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One finally exiting their respective dungeons–namely, Super Meat Boy and I Wanna Be the Guy. It’s difficult and leaves nearly no room for error, especially once you can’t go left, touch the side of blocks, and even touch other living beings. But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself.

The plot. Yup, there’s a plot. You are a lost soul, represented as a dark shadow of a human figure, and you are attempting to climb a…tower. Where does it go? Well, the game’s title should clue you in, but I couldn’t tell if that was meant to be taken literally or figuratively. A mysterious voice from above does not believe you can do it and begins to throw wrenches into your plans when it becomes clear you are unwilling to walk away from your heavenly goal. There’s some religious text at the very end that kind of confused me and felt like it was there to be “deep” and “thoughtful”, but really added little to the story. In each level, your goal is to reach the staircases and continue up. However, as you progress, the voice from above will place specific restrictions on you (such as you can no longer hit the left key or touch the side of walls), and these rules eventually stack on top of each other, meaning you have to constantly be aware of all the things you can’t do, as well as what you can. At one point, you weren’t even allowed to check the rules menu; if you hit the button to bring up the list, you exploded into pixels. It’s a fantastic gameplay idea, though it makes for tough towering.

All that said, here’s about nine minutes of me going through the motions for Tower of Heaven‘s first few levels. Warning: my mic audio is very high and airy, and I’m still tinkering with my settings to learn what works and what doesn’t for recording purposes. Again, if anyone has any tips, I’ll take ’em. Just throw them at my head; I’m using OBS now to record gameplay footage and a LogiTech headset.

I played more after the video ends and was able to beat Tower of Heaven after about twenty or twenty-five minutes on the final few levels. I came very close to giving up entirely though, that’s how challenging it got. When the rule states that you can no longer touch living beings like butterflies and grass, well…you begin to notice that stuff is all over the place. Anyways, the ending was simply okay, if a bit muddled in its own revelations and heavy religious tone, but I dug it nonetheless. Just like in VVVVVV, you get a stats screen at the end, and mine showed that I died a total of 154 times, which I am totally not ashamed of. If you’re into retro games with some challenge, this one is definitely worth checking out.


Ah, Jumping Flash! No, I’m not exclaiming. The ! is just part of the game’s name, as well as the feeling I get when I realize that I traded this quirky gem during my transition from Playstation to Playstation 2. Why? Because, as far as I can tell, there’s never been anything quite like it since.

Releasing in 1995 for the Playstation, Jumping Flash! was a 3D platformer played from a first-person perspective. You are a robotic bunny named Robbit that is out to stop an insane astrophysicist named Baron Aloha from turning a bunch of worlds into private resorts. Yup, that’s the plot. I said it was quirky. To stop this low-life, Robbit must find the Jet Pods that propel each world and reunite the Crater Planet. Basically, you will jump, shoot things, jump, jump, shoot things, jump, and jump some more. There’s a lot of jumping to do, outpacing the shooting by several miles. Good thing this wasn’t called Step Aerobics Flash!

Robbit can jump up to three times: once off the ground, then in mid-air, and then a third time in mid-air, allowing him to reach crazy heights. What’s neat about this is that, as Robbit jumps, the camera tilts down to his feet so you see the ground (if it is still visible) below you rather than just staring at sky horizontally. This was pretty impressive the first time you did it, and gave the player an amazing sense of freedom.

Level designs varied, with the funnest being the one set in an amusement park with a roller-coaster as your launching point. In every world, Robbit could pick up a bunch of power-ups like rockets and cherry bombs, as well as hourglasses to extend the time. Yes, levels were timed, which made jumping around more exciting and intense, especially when the clock was ticking down and you were flying high.

Graphically, it is what it is. Polygon count is low, the sky is a static wash that never changes, and the enemies were cutesy animals like penguins and bomb-tossing beetles. It’s an early PS1 game, and it shows. Thankfully, the gameplay more than makes up for things.

Alas, I can’t recall too much about Jumping Flash! other than the main hub levels. I do know that at the end of each world, there would be a boss fight, but shake me silly because I don’t remember doing any of them. I suspect you had to shoot them somewhere special (keep it clean, people) and that jumping was involved.

It seems there was a direct sequel, Jumping Flash! 2, as well as some games loosely-based on the gameplay concept. It’s a shame that the series itself is so underrated and did not find a stronger fanbase. Given today’s consoles and technology, something truly great could be achieved here if developers were interested. Take this, add some Mirror’s Edge, a pinch of love, and go to town.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.