Jazz: Trump’s Journey seemed to appear in this past weeks’ PlayStation Network without any warning. The game is a largely a routine platformer with the addition of some music based time control mechanics thrown in to vary the mix up. Trump’s Journey is, unsurprisingly, the story of lead character Trump as he overcomes a series of challenges in order to form a band and win a musical competition.
Trump’s Journey takes players across a range of themed platform levels ranging from a colourful carnival to the dampest, darkest prison tunnels. Each section of the game is broken into a series of levels which culminate in either a new member joining Trump’s band or a boss fight. During the early portion of the game it’s standard platforming fare; jumping, moving platforms, obstacles requiring precision timing. Once Trump gets his trumpet, he can then manipulate objects in the environment by playing his trumpet to freeze time.
It’s not a massive departure from the standard platformer gameplay, but the combination of freezing time, carefully and precisely moving around and avoiding obstacles is surprisingly addictive. I found it difficult to put the game down once I’d started – it hooks you in with its “just one more go” goodness. Jazz: Trump’s Journey offers little more in terms of innovate or fresh mechanics, instead focusing on ensuring its key functions work solidly.
A lot of the platform puzzles tend to revolve around working out what the threats are and deciding which can be manipulated with Trump’s time freeze ability before proceeding through the environments avoiding obstacles such as enemy Policemen, spikes and the platform game mainstay; deep pits.
Trump’s Journey sees players controlling Trump, from his grandma’s kitchen with dreams of being a famous musician to winning a prestigious music competition. Along the way, you encounter various other musicians with the aim of convincing them to join your band. There’s a little bit of a love interest for Trump, as well as a nemesis, that adds another layer to what otherwise would have been a very linear experience.
Story elements are delivered via small cut-scenes presented like old fashion movies – it’s a nice touch that goes a long way in developing the experience. You’re unlikely to form a strong bond with Trump in the same manner as you would with Nathan Drake in Uncharted, for example, but his story is interesting enough that you don’t want to automatically skip every cut-scene, even if the option is there. The story is never intrusive but instead sits quietly in the background just about doing enough to keep things moving.
The soundtrack is subtle, but a progressive Jazz track which adds more elements to its track as you get new members to join the band. Considering the game was about Jazz music and forming a band, it was a little underwhelming that the sound design didn’t feature more, but it has to be said that the inoffensive, repeating backing music does a good job of adding to the experience without ever being in your face demanding attention. It is possible to play Trump’s Journey without the sound on at all, which will be a welcome relief for some players.
There are collectibles in Trump’s Journey – music notes litter the environments working both as collectibles and to guide players in the general direction of each levels goal. There are also hidden photographs to find, which unlock artwork and puzzles. Trump’s Story also has some extremely difficult bonus levels hidden with its regular levels and they will genuinely test the reflexes of even the most veteran platformers.
On the whole, Trump’s Journey isn’t a difficult game. There are certainly some moments of intense frustration, which require a great degree of patience, but for the most part checkpoints are well enough placed so as not to punish the player too much for any mistakes. I managed to complete Trump’s Journey in around the six hours mark – it’s not a particularly long game, and it’ll be entirely down to personal preference as to whether you will re-play any levels for collectibles, although given how little value and reward they offer, it’s unlikely many will bother.
Trump’s Journey does a good job at providing you with enough motivation to keep moving, and the addition of a nemesis come rival love interest results in a couple of decent boss battles. The boss battles play out in a similar way to most platformers which sees Trump in a specific area, learning and dodging the enemies attack patterns before striking. Thankfully, if you make a mistake, these boss battles also have checkpoints so you never have to start completely over again.
At 108mb, Jazz: Trump’s Journey is easy to accommodate on your Vita’s memory card. It’s a game well worth a look, and a fun experience, even if will be a one-time playthrough for many. It would have been a nice touch to have been able to play back bonus levels via a menu, rather than having to play the standard level to find them again, although Jazz: Trump’s Journey doesn’t have a menu at all – the game boots directly into a backstage area from which you can guide Trump to the settings area or proceed directly into the games’ levels.
I found Jazz: Trump’s Journey to be an interesting and addictive adventure built upon solid foundations. I’m not a massive Jazz music fan; that’s not a pre-requisite here, but I did enjoy the story on offer and appreciated that it was subtle, propelling the story along rather than trying to be something far deeper than what it is. Trump’s Journey is fairly short and not particularly cheap given the length, but I’d happily recommend it to anyone with at least the slightest interest in platformers and/or Jazz music.