Jack N’ Jill DX Vita/PS4 Review

Jack N’ Jill DX is a side-scrolling platformer available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and PS Vita. Jack N’ Jill DX was originally created by Rohan Narang before Ratalaika Games developed and published a port to Vita, PS4 and more platforms besides. Can Jack N’ Jill DX deliver a fresh take on the side-scrolling platformer?

The story is essentially the entire premise of gameplay as it revolves around one of two characters named Jack and Jill who are friends getting lost and Jack or Jill having to find their friend at the end of every level.

Gameplay begins with only one level available to select and play as the next level has to be unlocked by completing the current level. Every level has anywhere from 1 to dozens of coins to collect that are utilised to unlock mini-games after completing a world to unlock the option of purchasing the mini-game. Each mini-game has its own objective such as the first mini-game that requires the player to help as many baddies across the pit before time runs out in order to earn tickets in exchange for unlocking new items at the shop. There are also numerous challenges in the form of additional objectives including collecting 1,000, 2,500 and 5,000 coins respectively; defeating 10, 100 and 500 enemies by stomping on them; finishing 20 levels as Jack and Jill; completing each world; and more besides.

Character design involves the player being able to choose from two charming playable characters named Jack and Jill. Enemy design includes multiple shapes and sizes of spikes and baddies that are positioned throughout the majority of levels. Both playable characters gain new abilities as the player progresses through a certain quantity of levels and within each world. For instance, within the first world either character can jump on an enemy’s head to squash it, but jumping immediately after landing on the enemy’s head provides an extra jumping surface to avoid nearby spikes and enemies, while upon reaching world 2; either character can wall jump in order to reach higher platforms. Characters can be customised by purchasing items from the in-game shop such as a variety of hats from a beanie to a mohawk for 25 tickets each or becoming a cat or bear for 50 tickets each, while your character can also wear an umbrella or become a cake for 100 tickets each and much more besides.

Environment design introduces many differing lengths of jumps, bouncing on springs, hazards and enemies over the course of 140 levels spread throughout 7 worlds with 20 levels per world, while the unlockable mirror mode flips the platforms within the levels around in addition to the background environments.

Jack N’ Jill DX supports cross-buy between the PS4 and Vita, although it unfortunately does not support cross-save, so you will not be able to continue from your previous progression on the Vita version when playing the PS4 version and vice versa. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing the PS4 and Vita versions of the game with just a single purchase.

The controls are quite simplistic on Vita and the DualShock 4 controller as the player only needs to press X to jump over spikes and onto or over enemies as the player does not need to move the chosen playable character as the character moves by him or herself. The Vita’s control scheme does not utilise the touch screen, while the DualShock 4 controller does not support the touch pad, alongside no light bar support that could have produced green when completing a level or red for when being defeated by an enemy or hazard and there is no vibration that could have occurred when being defeated by an enemy or hazard.

Graphically, Jack N’ Jill DX has a nostalgic retro aesthetic from side-scrolling platformers of yesteryear for characters, enemies and foreground and background environments. In an excellent design choice that is reminiscent to that of enhanced colour palette options for Game Boy games presented on Game Boy Colour; Jack N’ Jill DX allows the player to purchase a purple, beige, pink, green, red, blue or orange screen colour to replace the original greyscale screen colour for 100 tickets per screen colour from the in-game shop that essentially changes up the graphical display.

Jack N’ Jill DX’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, level and world selection menus, mini-games menus, challenges menu, options menu and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons on Vita and DualShock 4, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch screen or touch pad between Vita and DualShock 4. Menu backgrounds include a panning camera displaying the environments from the side-scrolling perspective.

Sound effects include your chosen playable character collecting coins, jumping, wall jumping, bouncing on a spring and being defeated by an enemy, spike or not making a jump; accompanied by charming retro platformer inspired music. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced certain or all sound effects or music.

The trophy list includes 12 trophies with 0 bronze trophies, 0 silver trophies, 11 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The first 3 gold trophies will be achieved within 10 seconds of gameplay including the I Found You gold trophy for finding Jack or Jill; the You Need to Start Somewhere gold trophy for completing a level; and the I’m A Poor Peasant gold trophy for getting a coin. Further trophies include the It’s Minigame Time gold trophy for unlocking a mini-game and the This is Bouncy gold trophy for bouncing by squashing an enemy. Better yet, the PS4 and Vita have individual trophy lists resulting in the potential of having 22 gold trophies and 2 platinum trophies within around 45 minutes to an hour in total.

There are no difficulty levels, although despite having a very simplistic control scheme; the difficulty curve is gradually increased by progressively introducing new gameplay elements such as hazards, enemies, jumping on enemies, wall jumps and more besides. Even the mini-games have a balanced difficulty by changing the positioning of platforms from one attempt to another.

There is understandably no local or online multiplayer; although it would have elevated the gameplay by having online leaderboards displaying the fastest times for completing each level, each world and every world combined.

Jack N’ Jill DX’s replayability stems from 140 levels spread throughout 7 worlds, unlockable mirror mode that flips the levels around to effectively double the quantity of levels, 7 unlockable mini-games that provide tickets to purchase unlockable items and options from the in-game shop including character customisation and Game Boy Colour stylised colour palettes, 26 objective based challenges and 2 playable characters that will collectively have players returning for many hours.

 

 

Analysis

  • Title: Jack N’ Jill DX
  • Developer: Rohan Narang (Original Developer)/Ratalaika Games (PS4/Vita Port)
  • Publisher: Ratalaika Games
  • System: PS4/PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross-Buy: Yes
  • Cross-Play: No
  • Players: 1
  • PS4 Hard Drive Space Required: 52.45MB
  • PS Vita Memory Card Space Required: 49MB
Verdict
  • 90%
    Storyline/Level Design - 90%
  • 90%
    Gameplay - 90%
  • 91%
    Graphics & Sound - 91%
  • 86%
    Controls - 86%
  • 90%
    Difficulty - 90%
  • 93%
    Replayability - 93%
90%

Summary

Overall, Jack N’ Jill DX is a wonderful side-scrolling platformer that offers a superb quality of retro nostalgia and is highly recommended to fans of retro platformers and side-scrolling platformers. Jack N’ Jill DX is perfectly suited to both home and portable gaming environments with great pick up and play platforming gameplay, while being exceptional value as the Vita and PS4 cross-buy bundle only costs £3.99 or $4.79.

Jason

Jason

Jason plays all genres of games and enjoys all different kinds of experiences that the games industry has to offer. Jason’s favourite PlayStation exclusive franchises throughout various eras include: Crash Bandicoot, God of War, Gran Turismo, inFamous, Killzone, Little Big Planet, MotorStorm, Resistance, Spyro the Dragon, Uncharted, Wipeout and various games that never became big name franchises. A special mention goes to Black Rock’s superb Split Second: Velocity as it is rather unbelievable that it will never receive a sequel.Jason now mainly plays modern PlayStation games on home console and portably, but occasionally returns to the old retro classics on the 3DO, PS1 and PS2 such as discovering Cool Spot Goes to Hollywood 20 years after its original release on PS1. Jason is happy to see gaming coming full circle with updates for retro classics such as Alien Breed, Superfrog and Crash Bandicoot.

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