30 years of video games – Jumpman (1983)

I’m waving goodbye to my 20’s and to celebrate I’m counting down 30 games from the last 30 years.  Join me while I countdown 30 great years of game memories.

Jumpman (1983)

Jumpman is your typical 80’s arcade game experience. Developed by pioneering video game developer Epyx, and released on various personal computer platforms in 1983, Jumpman can be best described as a more complicated, more difficult Donkey Kong-like experience.  The aim of the game is to navigate the levels collecting a set number of items in the world while avoiding enemies and traps.  There is no endpoint the player must reach rather once the final object is collected the level ends.  Jumpman however was far more freeform than many of its contemporaries, allowing the player to decide in what order he or she collects these items.  This design choice made for a more strategic game, taking inspiration from other arcade classic, Pac-Man.  There’s not much to Jumpman in the grand scheme of things, but what is does, it does well and the wide variety of levels set it apart from its kin at a time where games well and truly ‘borrowed liberally’ from one another.  Perhaps the other important thing to mention about this game is that its dead hard.

Jumpman and its sequel Jumpman Jr also released in 1983 are timeless classics built on simplicity and an inherent challenge to the player to find it within themselves to overcome adversity and conquer its many and varied levels.  At the heart of every pixel-perfect platformer sits a tiny bit of Jumpman, and every time you’ve ever cursed at games with a set jumping trajectory you should have been shaking your fist at Jumpman.

JumpmanC64

 Have a favourite game from 1983?  Tell us in the comments below.  Don’t forget to come back soon for the next game in our countdown.

9 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, I do not have much experience of games from 1983, so I cannot suggest a different favourite game. I looked at this article because I was surprised to see a review of Jumpman. When I was younger, I owned a disc that came free with the computer. This disc contained about one hundred demos of games (which ranged from a single level to entire games) and one was called Jumpman Lives. The game looked liked the picture in the article, with simplistic graphics and the recognisable Jumpman. After reading the article, I cannot work out if the mentioned Jumpman is the same game as the Jumpman Lives game I played. I remember the sound effects were screechy and had no music. I also remember having to collect different amounts of rings in each level, which seemed to consist of different puzzles (such as robots that moved around as rings were collected and bats). Do you know if the two games are the same? Or if Jumpman Lives was a sequel?

    1. My understanding is that there were only two ‘official’ Jumpman games – the original and then Jumpman Jr. It got tied up in all sorts of IP ownership shennanigans after that – so I’m not sure about Jumpman Lives, sorry.

      1. I no longer have access to the game I mentioned, so I am not sure if Jumpman Lives is the official title of the game, or something it was called. It seemed a lot like Jumpman, so they probably are the same game. It is interesting the series stopped because of IP ownership. I agree about the set jumping trajectory, it is very hard to time the jumps properly.

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