Checking the Score: Jumping Flash!

While many point to how lifelike the next blockbuster action title is or how gorgeous an artistic indie darling is when it comes to evaluating a game, these visuals would lose their impact without a stirring soundtrack to score them. From the chip-tunes of Super Mario Bros to the Gregorian chants of Halo, video game music brings players closer to immersion and fantasy. Much like how a movie’s soundtrack sets the tone for dramatic scenes, game music also helps players connect emotionally with the story.

Checking the Score is a monthly feature devoted to these crucial compositions which are literally the soundtrack to our gaming lives. Delving into what makes them impactful, the process of composing them and the intricacies of each score, our aim is to put a spotlight on the aural backbone of gaming.

Jumping Flash! is one of those games that is beloved, but underplayed. It provided something quite unique back when it was released on the original PlayStation. While Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot focused on horizontal, close to the ground types of platforming, Jumping Flash! focused on the verticality aspect of platforming. After a sequel and Rabbit Mon Dieu, the series ended. Fortunately, the game has continued to see re-releases, first on the PS3 and then more recently as an included title with PlayStation Plus in its “classics” collection.

The first song players encounter is the first level with “Jump into the Grassland!” which is completely upbeat and fun. This track introduces the main melody that players will hear recurring throughout the soundtrack in later levels and especially during boss fights. This track lets players know what they’re in for – a fast-paced platformer with a sense of humor. The bagpipes are just one of the more unorthodox instruments utilized throughout.

“Hello, Amusement Park” is definitely one of the more humorous tracks in the soundtrack. It sounds silly and that’s the point – it fits in perfectly with the amusement park level it plays over. Songs like this showcase the composer’s ability to adapt to exactly what type of track is needed. The amusement park in-game is equally outrageous and fun to explore as this song. The only thing this song doesn’t prepare players for is how challenging certain parts of the stage can be!

Next up is “Slippery Ice Land”. Those who hear this song but have not played the game may wonder why it starts out with such a serious tone. Well, think about ice levels and how challenging they typically are in games and that should provide an answer as to why. Even so, the track really opens up and also exudes an air of wonder about it. It’s a huge tonal shift from tracks like “Hello, Amusement Park” but still a cohesive part of the entire soundtrack.

All boss tracks in Jumping Flash! follow the same formula. They mix the main melody along with the level theme where the boss came from. While that might sound simple, each boss track is still awesome to listen to and exciting when you first come upon the fight. All the boss tracks are worth a listen but this one in particular earns extra points with its guitar solo about halfway through. Of course a mechanical dragon fight is deserving of some electric guitar!

The soundtrack was tremendous fun back in the day and remains listenable now. This is thanks in part to the high quality audio available on PS1 discs. While it might not be an orchestral classic like PS1 brethren Intelligent Qube, it’s still an entertaining soundtrack that fits in perfectly with the game itself. Tracks seem custom-designed for each level with perfect theming. Then there is the melodic signature of the soundtrack which recurs throughout many of the songs letting you know this music comes uniquely from Jumping Flash!

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