Sometimes there are games out there that you play just because it’s a little different than the norm, for me Bump ‘n’ Jump was that game, released by Data East in 1982 this action racing game mixed Mario bros. style jumps with Spy Hunter-style driving.
Now I did not know this at the time but there is actually a reason you are racing down a sometimes horribly shaped highway knocking cars off the road and jumping over broken bridges. The drivers girlfriend was kidnapped by a group called the Black Army Corps. (No relation to Black Water)
Again we have another case of a simple goal that is not so simple to execute. Your mission is to get from one level to another by racing down the highway to hell playing extreme bumper cars with everyone on the road. To add to the fun the road looks to have been constructed by my three year-old self because the road is only sometimes straight. Most of the time the road resembles mountain tops with peaks and jagged edges sticking out and if you run into these you are dead.
Luckily your car is equipped with the mother of all hydraulics that would make Snoop Dog go Snig-a-de-dig-a-de. Your car is able to take to the skies with a super jump and come crashing down on your enemies.
The game has a top down or “bird’s eyes” view so as you race you encounter a variety of enemy cars and trucks. These cars you can bump off the road to take them out, the trucks you cannot and sometimes the trucks will drops boulders or other items in your path that if you crash into will kill you.
Jumping does not just crush cars and trucks it is also to jump over the numerous broken bridges in the game. (I told you the stimulus package was necessary) It is also a good way to get out of a sticky situation. For instance when you bump into a enemy car it will give a little push back and if you are coming up fast on one of the out-sticking jagged edges on the road you can use your jump to safely navigate back to the middle of the road where you mainly want to be.
Bump ‘n’ Jump was simply designed but the gameplay was what made it fun. It had a Spy Hunter feel to the road design using simple colors and shapes and since it was also published by Bally Midway it makes sense where the 1983 Spy Hunter got its level design from.
As you go through the levels you are also going through the season. (How long did it take this guy to get his girl back anyway?) The changes in level design are small mostly consisting of color changes. The exception was the winter stage which sported a snow covered design and slippery icy roads.
Unfortunately Bump ‘n’ Jump was another game I wasn’t very good at. Sometimes when that yellow exclamation point would begin flashing on screen and making that beeping noise I would become traumatized and crash. Like Spy Hunter I only made it to the winter level once. (I notice a pattern here)
BNJ was ported to a number of console and computer systems such as the Atari 2600, the Commodore 64 and the NES and has been released under different names such as Burnin Rubber and Buggy Popper.Simple design and fun gameplay was the theme of the 80’s and that is why games like Bump ‘n’ Jump are still played today. Like many games of the 80’s you can find flash versions of them on websites or there is of course M.A.M.E, but I have no idea what that is. =)