When I turned seven, I got New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS, and a year later, Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii. Those two games truly demonstrated to me the versatility of Mario games and how successful Nintendo had been at integrating Mario into every genre imaginable. Well, Burgos Games’ new puzzle platformer, Neko Ghost, Jump!, is what would happen if these two games gave birth to a cat, who had the powers of astral projection.
In Neko Ghost, Jump!, the premise is simple. The cat has to go from point A to point B as fast as possible. You must also kill as many enemies as you can in ghost form while jumping from platform to platform and collecting coins. The cat is a silent protagonist who only makes cute cat noises when jumping and fighting enemies while trying to reach the anchor at the end of every level.
‘‘The game mechanics here are very complex and go surprisingly deep for an indie platformer.’’
Platformers are a dime a dozen with many of them offering a mostly by-the-books experience. We’ve come to expect a certain level of quality from them, especially after Nintendo set the bar rather high in terms of quality for both 3D and 2D platformers. Therefore, a good platformer needs to bring enough novelty and innovation to stand out from the crowd. Fortunately, that’s exactly what Neko Ghost, Jump! does. The game mechanics here are very complex and go surprisingly deep for an indie platformer.
Of course, there’s the standard running and jumping mechanics at play here, although heightened due to the added layer of both 2D and 3D view. Additionally, there are movable boxes that you will have to cleverly place by switching between 2D and 3D perspective. With this inclusion, a simple platformer transforms into an interesting puzzle game.
“The Ghost form mechanic adds a really nice sense of risk and reward. It helps make Neko Ghost, Jump! feel that much more rewarding.”
In addition to all of that, there is also an engaging combat system. While platforming and solving puzzles you must also fight a variety of enemies. However, your physical form cannot deal any damage, so you will need to switch to your ghost form to fight them. Beyond fighting, your ghost form will be key to scouting ahead, collecting coins that are only accessible in ghost form and mitigating the risk of instant fall death.
Your cat has nine lives (obviously), but falling in a chasm means game over. Your lives are there to tank damage from enemies, and you can still receive damage in ghost form. However, your ghost does not instantly die from falling and instead only deducts one life. The Ghost form is also a double-edged sword because it leaves your vulnerable inert physical body behind, which can still take damage from any attacks while immobile on the ground. This adds a nice sense of risk and reward, which helps Neko Ghost, Jump! feel that much more rewarding.
‘‘If this is just the demo, then the full release of Neko Ghost, Jump! is going to be insanely hard.’’
The menu doesn’t even hide it; this game was built as a challenge for speedrunners. Other developers watch speedruns in horror as the mechanics of their precious game are exploited to their limits. Meanwhile, Victor Burgos woke up and said: ”bring it on!”
Therefore, it is no wonder that the game is insanely hard. Between the puzzles, the platforms and the enemies, you also need to manage your ghost form, the different perspectives and the fact that there are no checkpoints. Therefore, dying means you must restart from the beginning of the level. If this is just the demo, the full release is going to be insanely hard. You will die…a lot.
The game was showcased on E3 and won the best indie trailer with 34% of the votes. Neko Ghost, Jump! may not have been the only platformer to appear at Steam Next Fest, but it is certainly one of the best.
Be sure to head on over to Neko Ghost, Jump!’s Steam store page to try the demo out for yourself. You can also wishlist it on Steam to be notified of any future updates.