It’s arcade time! And today let’s looks at one of the rarer conversions on the 2600… Bump ‘n’ Jump! I have only just recently played the actual machine for the first time and I gotta say… Nice. Originally B-n-J was published by Mattel under their M-Network label, but I was lucky enough to stumble across a boxed copy of the slightly rarer NTSC Telegames variants on Etsy of all places. It seems a lot of those Telegames re-releases are in the PAL format so I just got really lucky with this one since I only found out afterwards how easy it is to get duped with these things. So after comparing what I’ve experienced with the arcade version with the 2600 version I’ve just gotta say… Nice. Lots of care and attention went in to make this a very faithful port of an already very complex game, so without any further dawdling let us review Bump ‘n’ Jump.
This is a very impressive looking game; the arcade game was a rather ambitious top-down view racing game capable of displaying many vehicles at once, and from the looks of it the 2600 version is an extremely faithful recreation of what the arcade laid out. While being fairly simple, the environments/ patterns on the side of the road are constructed in a way to give you the illusion of speed and are varied in their design. Your fellow drivers are quite a lively bunch, driving around in race cars, dump trucks, tractors, and actual literal skull & crossbones (using the ends of the bones as wheels, how inventive). The enemy vehicles are sadly rather low resolution and are all single colored, but I can understand why the programmers did this since they needed all the memory possible to keep the graphics smooth and flicker-free, which they are. All around the game looks simple but faithful, fair enough, on to the sounds.
When starting up the game you’ll hear a little fanfare to start the race and afterwards you’ll hear a simple tune play in the background. You’ll also hear the sound of the engine revving up but it will be cut off whenever you hit another car or another car explodes, mainly since the tune gets a sound channel all to itself all of the rest have to fight over the remaining channel leading to some sounds getting cut off. Interestingly enough the game has an option to turn off the background music, by selecting B&W mode the music will simply stop. Unfortunately all the sounds are still cramped into a single channel but I’m willing to ignore that simply because the choice is nice to have. Also the jumping sound effect is annoying, onto the gameplay.
The name truly says it all, you bump into cars to hopefully ram them into their fiery deaths and jump to fly over your own watery grave. Bumping is the main gameplay element in this game, you have to know which cars to bump to either cause or avert disaster. Some cars are easier to bump than others, race cars will be propelled further than the tractors, which barely move when you make contact with them but will send you flying. The skull cars are the in-between, between race cars and tractors, but they will actively try to run you off the road while the other cars act merely as obstacles. You can jump and land on the other cars to instantly destroy them, but this has its own downside, since everything shares the same sound channel you won’t hear the sound alerting of a river ahead, and the graphic on the HUD is very easy to miss so you better keep one eye on the HUD at all times. Jumping is a good way to get out of a sticky situation, if you’re boxed in on all sides by skull-mobiles or tractors it’s an easy way to free yourself, or if you’re bumped on a narrow stretch of road you can jump to get yourself back on.
Overall this game is fairly light on the graphics but heavy on the fun. There weren’t very many games like this on the 2600, and the ones that were, are either crap or expensive. I would wholly recommend you go out and get a copy, loose carts on Ebay are usually less than 10$, but I would caution against trying to get this game CIB then you’re lookin’ at about 80$, and if you really want to risk it you can go after one of the elusive NTSC Telegames variants. No Collector’s Zone today…