It takes more effort to type out “The Adventures of Jay-Jay and Moonpie: Episode 1 – Completely Hardboiled” (henceforth “JJ & MP”) than it does to actually play the game. JJ & MP combines a visual memory game with a black-and-white film noir setting, and mixes it up with a shot of humor. However, the game is over within half an hour, so it’s difficult to attach yourself to its design, its characters, or any part of it, really.
JJ&MP tells the story of two detectives on the trail of a missing singer. Jay-Jay, the lead detective, rounds up the usual suspects with his partner, Moonpie, who doesn’t look as delicious as he sounds. The missing singer, named Pee-Wee, seems to keep shady company, and these are the ladies and gentlemen you will have to identify in order to aid Jay-Jay and Moonpie in their investigation.
Dude, what happened to your eyes?
Playing JJ & MP involves looking at a suspect’s picture for a set amount of time between 15 and 35 seconds. After memorizing the suspect’s picture, you pick him or her out of a lineup of nearly-identical suspects. You must select the culprit based on identifying features from their photo: tattoos, jewelry, etc. If you mess up and finger the wrong suspect, you have to look at the picture one more time and try again. So on and so forth until you unravel the fate of Pee-Wee.
JJ & MP was obviously never meant to be a complicated or fast-paced game, but it has numerous issues that bar it from even being remembered as a decent take on a memory game. The reason for the game’s black-and-white graphics is obvious, but it makes it hard to pick out identifying characteristics on the suspects. Why does every suspect seemingly have three other identical twins, anyway? The pregnant women populating the world of JJ&MP need to cut back on the yams.
Who brings quadruplets to a lineup?
Graphics are obviously an important part of any game that involves visual memorization. JJ & MP has a scribbly, simple art style that’s admittedly charming, but static. Nothing animates, the suspects aren’t memorable beyond your 30-second interludes, and you’ll see the same portraits of Jay-Jay and Moonpie over and over.
If you screw up an identification, and you will, you’re sent back a step to study the suspect’s picture again. That’s fine, but you have to look at the picture for the full countdown– up to 35 seconds– which isn’t necessary, since you’ve already cut down the number of false suspects through the process of elimination. There’s no option to skip straight ahead to damning the true suspect.
There’s some amusing, self-aware dialogue between Jay-Jay and Moonpie that alludes JJ & MP is a videogame, and therefore there is supposed to be some unexplained phenomena. But jokes can’t erase the uninspired art, slow gameplay, or the presence of hipsters in a 1930′s setting. We don’t know what Episode 2 of JJ & MP will bring with it. but some depth and added excitement will go a long way.