Sunday, October 7

Review: Jack N' Jill DX [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While there’s no doubt that retro gaming is in, depending on how far you roll back the clock the results can be pretty mixed. I’ve found that even games that emulate the NES era a bit too closely, when not complemented by some modern updates, can get grating with their control limitations or pacing, but it all depends on what you’re looking for. In the case of Jack N’ Jill DX the developer has gone a bit more primitive than even the NES with a game that looks, and in many ways plays, like a title on that would have worked on the GameBoy. While it has some charm, and a metric ton of content, it may be too simple for its own good in some respects.

You’ll play as either Jack or Jill, with your goal of saving your friend by making your way through 7 different worlds with 20 levels apiece. The controls are extremely basic, this is essentially a one-button runner, but that isn’t to say that once you get a few worlds in the difficulty won’t ramp up on you. Traps and enemies continue to get more varied and challenging as you go, though if anything the pace of it getting harder may be a bit too slow early on… the early levels almost get to be a grind though they do slowly get you accustomed to the mechanics so it’s not for a bad reason. As you complete worlds and collect coins you’ll also unlock a handful of mini games that throw a few different ideas at you as well as challenges if you’re feeling so inclined. The rewards for your efforts are generally pretty simple things like unlocking alternative color palettes but if you dig the gameplay it’s nice to have something to show for your efforts.

I think where the divergence of opinion on this title will come into play is on the topic of its one-button controls mixed with the locked-in power and distance of your jumps. For me this was irritating. I understand that the levels were all designed with this in mind but having no influence over the length of the jump just made some situations unnecessarily awkward. Considering the abundance of other platformers on the system, including excellent ones in the same price range, aside from the sheer volume of content or perhaps a twinge of nostalgia I think Jack N’ Jill comes out somewhat favorably but is a bit more dull and lacking in creative level design than its competitors. If you’re pining for some play that skews further back specifically though it’s probably well worth your time.

Score: 6.5

  • A load of content with 140 levels, mini games, and challenges
  • If you’re seeking simplicity with a slow skill ramp up it does an excellent job in this department

  • The lack of jumping nuance comes down to a matter of taste
  • For experienced platforming fans it takes a while to get to the point where it’s interesting
  • The one-button play is nice but doesn’t make a great case for why you’d need to play it on Switch versus a smartphone