Jazz: Trump’s Journey casually and nonchalantly shows you its quality from the first second you enter the main menu. The main character, a beautifully drawn Jazz musician tips his hat to you and adjusts his bow tie, and you get instant control over him, while you are still in the main menu.
You move him around in a wonderful ‘menu’ level that doubles up as a hub and a quick tutorial of sorts, walking into different rooms to change settings and climbing ladders to check options. It is a brilliant start, and the game just gets better from there on in.
You control the main character Trump, a jazz musician who wants to tell the tale of how he learned to play the trumpet and fight injustice in the early days of jazz. The story is actually one of the best things about the game, and it is wonderfully told with silent movie outtakes that suit the mood of the game perfectly. You must collect postcards to keep the memories flowing and form a jazz band to enter a contest and get the girl.
Once you start the first level and the jazz trumpets start to play, you will find the beat of the drums and cool little melodies really suck you into the game’s little world. The fabulous graphics also help, with an absolutely unique and individual style that you will not soon forget. One small graphical feature that I really liked was the use of foreground detail, between the main gameplay layer and the player, slightly fuzzed out and unobtrusive, that really helps give the entire look a feeling of depth lacking in a lot of games.
Another brilliant touch is the way that objects on the floor and ceilings all bounce and dance along to the music. Trump controls superbly, with an intelligent control system. It is a good thing too, as the game does get really tricky, particularly if you want to find all the collectibles on the levels.
Trump has plenty of moves, such as wall jumping, that really make him feel like a great platform character. A sign of a good platformer is when it is fun to simply jump around aimlessly, and Jazz: Trump’s Journey really is. The game has plenty of puzzles to get your teeth into, and some of them are truly fiendish, especially on some of the larger, more sprawling stages.
The acquisition of the trumpet is where the game really starts to open up. The trumpet allows you to freeze items in time, for as long as you want. It is a great feature, and one that the developer is all too willing to implement into the puzzles. This aspect of the game, along with some of the platform elements brought the game Braid to mind. Well, Braid mixed with Ninja Gaiden anyway. There are bosses, police to avoid and block and switch puzzles to solve aplenty.
There are secret areas to find, and a fair bit of content for your money, but to be honest it is the type of game that any discerning iPhone gamer shouldn’t hesitate to buy. It isn’t perfect, as some of the platforming elements do feel a little formulaic, and the game does reuse ideas a little too often, but these are really small issues that don’t detract from the overall experience.
The addition of Game Center, Twitter and Facebook integration is welcome, as is the fact that this is a universal app. This really is one of those iPhone games that you just have to buy, especially if you are a fan of platform games.
A beautifully stylized world is brought to life with an original jazz soundtrack and great platform gameplay, with an interesting time based mechanic. This comes highly recommended as one of the best platform games in the App Store.