I stumbled across a stream of Jump King last week, a platformer that passed me by when released a couple of years ago. "Yes, I want to ruin my life," I thought, and instantly bought it.
Now just a few days later, my life ruined, I see jumps and punishing falls everywhere. Is indie developer Daniel Linssen's new free game Tumbledown Drive a Jump King and Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy-inspired platformer in which you are a car hopping up a mountain, or is this another hallucination?
If it is what I think it is, Tumbledown Drive challenges you to "drive, jump and honk" up a series of platforms. Holding down jump makes your jump bigger, just as in Jump King, but notably, cars have wheels and kings traditionally do not. You'll need to manage your speed and momentum to make jumps without driving off the far edge of the platform you land on.
As per its inspirations, falling doesn't kill you. Death would be too easy. Instead, missing a jump sends you hurtling back down from whence you came. Sometimes you'll get lucky and just fall a little, and sometimes you'll wipe away an agonising amount of progress. Repeat a segment enough times and you'll gain a kind of mastery over it, but you'll also be forced to repeat it so many times that you experience a kind of mania.
I love these kinds of games. Progress is tense and hard won, oh-so satisfying to achieve, and while failure can be tantrum-inducing, I'm usually back to try again within a few minutes. While I haven't played much of Tumbledown Drive yet, I like how it feels.
We've writen about a lot of Linssen's games over the years, many of which are also tough platformers, including Roguelight seven years ago. You can find all of Linssen's games on Itch and download Tumbledown Drive here.