App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Were someone to ask me what I think would make a good subject for a platform game, I'm not entirely sure what would be my first choice. I'm certain, however, that neither the story of Jazz nor the life of Louis Armstrong wouldn't be anywhere near the top of that list. Fortunately for everyone, Egg Ball was in charge of the decision making instead of me. Now we can all sit back and enjoy the ever-loving crap out of JAZZ: Trump's Journey.
In case I haven't made it obvious enough, JAZZ is a platformer about the life of Louis Armstrong and the history of Jazz. Albeit with a few game-like adjustments here and there, naturally. Players take control of Trump as he travels through 1920's New Orleans to form a band and win a music competition. Most (if not all) of the expected platforming mechanics are present and accounted for, including wall-jumping and rope-swinging to name but a couple.
As a stand-alone platformer, JAZZ is pretty cool. As a complete package, however, it's amazing. The "paper cut-out meets silent film" motif is a joy to behold. Trump's controls are responsive. There are plenty of hidden pictures to collect in each stage as well as music notes. And then there's the music. It's good/great by any standards, really, but what's most impressive about it is the way it builds as Trump recruits more band mates. Find the trombone player and a trombone is added to the soundtrack. Locate the bass player and suddenly there's a bass in there with the rest of the instruments. It's a supremely clever idea that's pulled off very, very well.
The only real problem I've run into with JAZZ is that the presentation can occasionally get in the way of functionality. It never hinders the gameplay itself, but having to run Trump all over a theatrical stage (he is telling his life story to an audience after all) in order to fiddle with the options or take a look at extras is more than a little annoying. Thankfully it doesn't impede any actual progress and it's a nifty idea, but it can take a while to tweak that what needs tweaking. I suppose the somewhat awkward phrasing of some of the story text is worth a mention, but I've read worse. Much, much worse.
I'll admit I had somewhat high hopes for JAZZ: Trump's Journey, and I was worried that I'd be disappointed with the end result, but it completely met all of my expectations. It even exceeded them in a few places. Its not just a clever idea, it's a clever idea wrapped in an extremely alluring (and well put-together) package. One that's totally worth playing.