Indie Spotlight: Jump Gunners

You have to shoot to advance, but you're not trying to hit anything...

Indie Spotlight: Jump Gunners

Developer Nerdrage Studios
Price US$15

My only ever (real life) experience of gun recoil occurred in a friend’s backyard while shooting cans off a branch with a tiny shotgun. It was a few years before the Port Arthur massacre and every teenager I knew still thought guns were cool. Not so much me. I had a sore shoulder. I feel like I should be able to recall a game where recoil is a primary method for movement, but I’m struggling. My kids play Jetpack Joyride, yet Jump Gunners doesn’t feel like that. It’s more that the guns feel very powerful and you’re required to use recoil creatively.

In the single player campaign, there’s a level where you have to propel yourself backwards over spikes. Then there are spikes on the ceiling, too, so you have to angle your gun very precisely. As soon as you veer towards spikes and panic, moving your gun an inch, you’re dead. Initially, this made me crazy, but by the time I got to a level which is basically a tube whose every surface is covered in spikes, I was surprisingly good at it. The game promises that it is ‘easy to learn, difficult to master’ and then frames your journey to mastery incrementally.  

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As such, if you want to beat your friends in one of the game’s multiplayer modes, including deathmatch, capture the flag and turkey hunt, practice helps. When I played with my family, people initially won by frantic luck. Later, I could play calmly and win. Different weapons have a meaningful impact on your recoil-based movement, too. One thing that irks me about platformers is just slightly failing to make the same jump several times. Here, you simply angle the gun down for a boost. Frustrating wall jumps aren’t even a thing either, if you shoot down.

Having left my teenage years behind, I no longer have friends with guns. I do have a middle-aged friend with a ‘gaming cabana’, however. It’s next to the pool, full of snacks and it’s where he plays shooters without waking his kids. Jump Gunners is the kind of game he needs in there. No sore shoulders, only an arcade aesthetic and some enjoyable single or local play. Having been the girl with a sore shoulder, I wasn’t expecting to become so good at maneuvering myself with recoil. Jump Gunners teaches its unique mechanic very well.

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