I figure it went down like this: Jumpman saved the day in the first game and (having now seen that he gets picked up and flown off-world) met a nice girl on the ride back to Earth. Maybe he tells her of his exploits and she’s enamored of him. I mean who wouldn’t fall for a dude who jumps on bombs to diffuse them? They go back to Earth, marry and have a kid. Obviously the best thing to do is name him after pop. Maybe they just call him Junior around the house! They tell him all about his dad’s adventures and he decides to run a mile in dad’s shoes. And so Jumpman Jr. was born!
Effectively there’s no difference between this game and his dad’s game. Epyx released this in 1983 and I still have the Atari 400 cartridge to play it. I just don’t have a good enough controller to enjoy it right now. One day I’ll grab one because like the original, I loved Jumpman Jr. This one allowed up to 4 players to take turns playing, and you could select your speed. Unlike the original game, there was only one set of 12 levels. In all other respects, this was just more of the same, but it was still a fantastic game.
The game started with a board called Nothing To It. This was a quick and easy board to get you back into the mood of the game. Now, let me tell you, I did have to look up the levels because I had a strong memory of some of them but could not remember them all. Finding a video online stunned me! According to this, the second board was called Fire! Fire! Now my memory of those things in my childhood is still pretty strong, but I have no memory of this level. I watched the video and it rings no alarm bells. It appears that every bomb sets off a short lived fire. Again, like the other game, those floating bullets coast by until they are in line with you before the shoot at you again. So I had to go to my Atari which sits unused but connected in the living room. I played through the first level with difficulty due to the bad controller and arrived at a second board that I do remember: Electrocution. I’ve no idea why this is not the same thing between the Atari release and the Commodore 64, but there you have it. Electrocution features areas of the board that are electrified, which slows you down leaving you susceptible to those floating bullets. Since I can’t play easily on the system I have, I had to look for a video to see the rest… Dumbwaiter is all about timing. There’s a big dumbwaiter in the center of the board that you use to get to lower levels. No floating bullets, so that makes this an easy victory. (Assuming you have a good controller!)
The first true sequel to the original game was Hellstones; a take on Jumpman’s Hailstones. Like the original, the stones did this bouncy tracking thing. It made it hard and I remember this was always the board that was a thorn in my side. The next board is also a sequel with Figurit’s Revenge; again a favorite. The level morphs with each bomb you diffuse. This was a challenge just like the original, but I still loved it! Walls follows which are these pushy little lines that you can pass through but they gently push you. A jump can be lethal if made while passing through one of those guys. Zig-Zag is next, which puts those annoying floating bullets on crack. They zig-zag their way to you creating a tough obstacle course, all the while pieces are vanishing off the board as you diffuse those bombs.
Spellbound was a fun one but I didn’t remember until watching the video (below) that if you got the bombs in the right order, it gave extra points. Maybe I never knew that. It’s a neat take on the otherwise standard approach to a board. Blackout was a fun board, if also a repeat from the first game’s Mystery Maze. The board is obscured but opens as you move through it. It’s a dangerous board to be sure!
Now my absolute favorite board was Herethereeverywhere. While both Figurits were favorites, this was my most enjoyed board. It features a flashing square but that square happens to be a portal. With every bomb you obtain, it takes you to where the square is, so it even matters how you jump at the bomb. For instance, jump at a bomb while running left meant you’d come out of the square going that same direction. Imagine how bad that is when the square appears on the extreme left of the level?
Hatchlings was a tough board that always gave me a run for my money. These Day of the Dove looking creatures appeared with every bomb you diffused and then they would race after you. You had to be quick and clever in your path to survive! The final board was called Hurricane and I have to tell you, I found this board annoying but I applied a trick to end the game. I’d jump off the level to allow the wind to carry me to the other side. I was effectively taking a chance on a suicide to get the last bomb while the wind carried me. And I thought I was really clever… until I viewed this video! I have to say I’m a bit bummed to find out I wasn’t the clever clog I thought I was. Tom Votava created a great video and proof that we gamers are all a bit silly deep down. When I would end the game with a wrap-around death, I too loved it. I have to say, Tom nailed it with that jump! I didn’t always pull it off so perfectly.
Unlike the other parent game (ha, literally), this game doesn’t have a story-ending. It just has Junior running down the screen to reveal a giant WELL DONE. Now that I finally found the ending of the original, I’m disappointed with this ending, but at the time, it was delightful! Alas, this was the end of the Jumpman saga of my youth. They are two casual games that really sparked my gaming interest as a kid. They don’t have the storytelling down to the science that many other games do, but that’s ok. Sometimes it’s better to sit back and enjoy some of life’s little pleasures before jumping into the more complex games. ML