Jumpster is a new physics game in the vein of Angry Birds, and it is such a rip off it’s not even worth playing. We expect that many games that are free to download might encourage in-game power-ups, but Jumpster is basically a bait and switch gaming experience.
The game of Jumpster is simple. Jumpster the alien has to navigate through each board to collect his lost fuel and get back to his spaceship. There are numerous obstacles to navigate, including bounce pads, bubbles, spikes and breakable walls.
Sounds fun, right? Well, the trick is each jump makes Jumpster tired, and once he's out of energy, he needs to recharge. You have to buy snacks to feed your alien energy to keep playing. You can wait overnight and it will recharge you halfway so you can play a little more. You may earn some credits by winning levels, but if you want to play for any reasonable stretch of time you have to buy items in-game for real money.
That is some nerve. I mean, the freemium games like Tiny Tower or farming games make you wait a while (sometimes hours) for your buildings to build, but you can still play in other areas while you wait. You actually can’t play Jumpster again until you pay, or wait a day. Even waiting several hours only gives you enough charge for a few jumps, often not enough to finish a level. Well, I am a patient man, so I will wait Jumpster out. I could buy the power-ups, but it’s the principal.
It’s too bad because Jumpster is really fun. The jumping controls are pretty much just like the Angry Birds slingshot. You drag your finger on the screen to pull back for power, and rub it up or down for the right angle. Only instead of trying to bust through pig houses, you’re trying to strategically land at the right spot.
The levels can be intricate, or deceptively simple. Some of them are infuriating as you have to be extremely accurate to land where you want, or to avoid jumping off of the board entirely. This is exacerbated unforgivably by having to pause the game for hours, or pay up, after you run out of energy every few jumps.
Perhaps if you get better at the game, you can win levels so quickly you always earn enough credits to keep up Jumpster's energy. I don’t think I’m that bad at the game though. The first levels are fairly easy and you still don’t win enough credits to keep playing the game for free. It’s designed to make you pay, and it’s a good scheme because the game is good enough to make you want to pay to continue. They just designed it like a drug dealer. The first one’s free but you’ll keep coming back.
There are also other power-ups available to give you temporary help once per level. Or you can dress up Jumpster with glasses and hats. The graphics are cute and colorful and the music is pleasant and catchy. It’s just unforgivable that you can’t really play the free game for free. I’d rather buy a $2-3 or $5 game than have to pay every time I want to play.