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JAZZ: Trump’s Journey is a fantastic new platformer from developer Egg Ball and publisher BulkyPix. It’s a very unique platformer with gorgeous aesthetics, upbeat music, and solid gameplay. The platforming itself is fairly standard, but the setting and themes make this game stand above most recent releases in the genre. There are very few issues with this title, though they do exist, and in the end it’s just very well made.
The game is set in New Orleans during the 1920s, and it’s very loosely based on the life of Louis Armstrong. I’m sure you can already see why this game is unlike any others. You play as a simple trumpeter named Trump. The game follows Trump as he puts his band together, falls in love, and generally does awesome things. The time period and musical themes make for some very interesting mechanics and design choices, although the game also borrows several elements from indie hit Braid.
The game controls quite well, with everything assigned to virtual buttons. Move left and right, jump, and play your trumpet. Nothing we haven’t seen before. When passing over a ladder, up and down arrow buttons will appear. My main problem with the controls lies with the awkward placement of these two buttons, but otherwise they’re just fine. As you make your way through each level, you’ll have to deal with various kinds of moving platforms, boxes, and switches. Your trumpet is unique in that playing it allows you to stop time indefinitely. Objects are usually marked by musical notes denoting whether they are affected by this ability or not.
Each level is littered with musical notes and ten fragments of paintings that pretty much only exist for completionists. I must say that the game does a very good job of making these hard to get. In the first few levels you might miss one or two things, but from level four and on, the checkpoint system makes it very easy to miss these collectibles if you aren’t careful and thorough. The game mechanics remain varied throughout, consistently introducing new or remixed elements at a very nice pace, and it all feels very well balanced.
I can’t speak highly enough of the period piece art style and the fantastic upbeat jazz soundtrack. The cut scenes that convey the surprisingly gripping story are also very well done. My only other complaint is with the menu system, also borrowed from Braid. The level select and options screens actually play out like a level themselves, with you running back and forth. I find this rather annoying, but it’s a very minor flaw in an otherwise polished experience. Game Center achievements are supported in this iOS Universal title, and it can be yours for just three dollars. It’s probably the most original iOS platformer I’ve played in a long time, up there with Terra Noctis, and I highly recommend both to everyone.