Mastering Jumpman. David H. Ahl; Betsy Staples.
Who is Jumpman?
Jumpman gets our nomination for Best Game of 1983. It has everything we look for in a game: playability, opportunity for improvement, clever tricks to challenge your intellect, and just the right amount of randomness to keep you on your toes. But it certainly can be frustrating and time-consuming as you sacrifice man after man devising patterns and studying the effects of your movements.
Jumpman is available for Atari, Commodore 64, and Apple computers. A second version with fewer boards, Jumpman Jr., is available on cartridge for Atari and Commodore machines. Our description of playing strategies presented here is for the full version with 30 boards.
During many hours of play, we have developed some strategies and patterns. We have not, however, presented a pattern for every one of the 30 boards--that wouldn't leave you with any challenge at all. Instead, we have presented some general playing hints, patterns for 14 boards, and tips for seven of the other boards.
First hint: read the instructions. This may sound silly; it is easy to play the game without reading the instructions. However, there are many valuable tips in them, including some hints from game designer Randy Glover.
Start off with the default speed (4). If you just can't seem to clear a board at this speed--after some practice, of course--then choose a slower speed.
Our patterns work at all speeds. They work best at the default speed (4). Faster speeds (1, 2, and 3) require you to hesitate in certain spots, so you should become familiar with the pattern on speed 4 before you speed up to 1, 2, or 3. Remember, the bullets and other hazards move faster and occur more frequently at the faster speeds; this can wreak havoc with the completion of a pattern.
On the very slow speeds, the patterns may require some alteration; we did not try every one at every speed.
Bullets move slowly across the screen until they cross the plane on which you are located. They then explode and sail toward you with frightening speed and accuracy. Watch for them and try to get them to explode when you are in a position to change planes rapidly. If necessary, wait for them to fly by before continuing. Don't alter your pattern because a slow bullet or two appears on the screen; keep going, but always have in mind a possible escape route should the bullet speed up.
Learn to recognize up and down ropes quickly (Up--blue, small links; Down-- green, large links). A rope occasionally apears after you collect a bomb, and you should know immediately which kind it is.
It is possible to jump on and off ropes, but it is more hazardous than jumping on and off ladders. You will get lots of rope jumping practice on board 3, Bombs Away.
You can jump over most of the hazards if they are reasonably close to the girders. These include bullets, barrels, vampires, and blocks. You can jump some of the robots but not others. In general, we prefer to avoid the hazards instead of risking a life trying to jump over one, but if you are cornered, try it; you have no other choice, and you may be successful.
The beginner level consists of boards 1 to 8, intermediate level is boards 9 to 18, and advanced level is boards 19 to 30.
Screen by Screen
1. Easy Does it
On this board, simply follow the diagram. You should pause only to let a bullet go by, although very few bullets speed up on this board, so you frequently can outrun them.
On the bottom level, do not jump on the platform at the center; just walk onto it and jump first to the right to get the bomb. Then walk onto it again and jump off to the left as you continue around. After getting the next-to-last bomb (A), a portion of the ladder below you will break away. Go down it a short way, but immediately jump to the left to get the last bomb. This is a suicide leap--you will not live if you miss the bomb, but if you touch the bomb, the screen ends and you do not lose your life. After a bit of practice, you will make it every time.
At the normal speed, you will get 1200 points for collecting the 12 bombs, and 800 to 1000 bonus points, for a total of around 2000.
2. Robots I
The pattern for Robots I should be followed without hesitation. The only tricky jump is the first one (B). Don't wait until you are at the very bottom of the ramp to leap, but don't leap too soon either. Practice makes perfect.
There are no bullets on this board, only the pesky robots.
As you climb the ladder at the right side of the board, you will notice the robot at the top start to descend. Don't stop to watch or he will cut off your path to the left. You ignore him, and he will ignore you.
You may want to try to leap up to the top girders from the left side. It is possible, but it seems to be easier to do from the right. If you do make it up on the left side, then simply jump off the right side in a suicide leap to get the last bomb. If you complete the lefthand leap successfully, it is worth an additional 100 bonus points; otherwise you will have to be satisfied with 1200 regular points and 800 to 900 bonus points on this board.
3. Bombs Away
On this board you will get some good practice jumping from platforms to ropes that will help you later on. As you get the bombs on the left side, portions of the platforms will drop away, forcing you to go to the very top. Here you are most vulnerable to the falling bombs, so your best strategy is to run and leap to the center as fast as possible to start your descent down the center rope.
This is a down-only rope, so if you get past a level, you have no recourse but to get off on the next level and make your way back up, or to go all the way down and climb a ladder back to the top.
If you are anywhere but on the top level, you can usually move or jump out of the way of a falling bomb and let it go past. You can look for 1200 regular points and 600 to 800 bonus points on this board.
4. Jumping Blocks
On this board, there are glowing blocks that are similar to bullets, although not nearly as lethal. When a block hits you, it will make you jump--usually straight up-- but sometimes in an unpredictable direction. Hence, if you see a block approaching, it is usually best to get away from the edge of a platform. Then, even if the block forces you to jump in an undesired direction, you will still land on a solid surface. You can jump over the blocks, but it is usually not worth the trouble.
You are most vulnerable to the blocks when you ascend the two ropes at the sides, since a jump while on a rope results in instant death. Hence, our pattern minimizes the use of these ropes.
The really nasty jump is the one at the top (C). Start running from the left, keep your joystick pressed right, don't hesitate, and press the jump button at the last moment. Even if Jumpman just catches the right platform with his hand, at least he is over, and you can go on.
When leaping to the right platform (E), press the jump button a little way back from the edge of D, otherwise you will jump beyond the platform.
Be careful making the jump for the next-to-last block (F); if you jump too late you will crash into the up-rope, which is generally lethal.
Vampire is a nasty board with nasty creatures that most players come to hate. At least there are no bullets.
The three vampires cling to their perch until you have collected a certain number of bombs. In general, they fly from top to bottom, and then reappear again at the top, but this pattern is altered if they get the smell of blood--then they stay on your trail. The first vampire comes out after you capture the third bomb, the second after the sixth, and the third after the ninth.
If you follow our pattern, the first vampire is released after you get the bomb at the bottom left (G). The second is released when you get the bottom right bomb (H). Here you need to exercise a bit of judgment; you should get the bomb at the second level when the first vampire is below you (going off the bottom of the screen) and the second one is above the bomb.
When you get it, jump immediately back right and go up the ladder. The second vampire now should be below you. Taking the bomb at J releases the third vampire. As you complete the pattern, vampires occasionally get quite close, but you should be able to avoid them.
It is possible to leap over a vampire, but it is better to avoid them. Remember, you are a much better target for the vampires when you are standing still than when you are moving. You can generally outwit one vampire, but when there are three on your tail, forget it! This board is very discouraging at first--be sure to keep moving and your chances of survival will increase.
A quirk. The rope from the top right platform (K) is very difficult to climb down (could it be a bug in the program?). It is best to avoid this if at all possible.
Look for 1400 regular points and 600 or so bonus points on this board.
This is a trivial board, but a good place to amass points if you are very patient. All you have to do to finish it is get the bomb at the bottom right. The only hazards are some flying saucers which fly in random patterns, but they don't zero in on you like the robots and vampires. On the other hand, if one hits you, you're dead.
You get 25 bonus points for shooting a saucer. Just point your joystick in the direction you want to shoot, and hit the button. You can have only four shots in the air at a time.
The only dangerous place on this board is on the top platform because if a saucer approaches from above, you can't see it until it is too late. Your best defense is a good offense. Since the saucers fly away from your bullets, shoot around yourself in all directions as you move to the right across the top platform.
Move to the center of the middle platform and stay there as long as you want to continue shooting saucers. Actually, it gets quite boring after a short while, and you will want to move on.
As a general rule, if you are playing the beginner or grand loop option, at this point you should have 10,000 to 11,000 points.
7. Grand Puzzle I
The secret to this board is knowing in what order to add six sections to the center ladder to build it higher so you can collect the 500-point bombs at the top.
Basically, the ladder sections, which you get by retrieving the six bombs near the outside ladders, can be placed in any order on the center ladder.
But to save building time, the two pieces next to the center ladder (3 and 4) may be used anytime after at least two ladder sections have been put up.
The board will automatically end when there are four bombs left. Hence, you should leave the bombs marked "No.'
The leap from the top of the ladder to the top platforms is a dangerous one, but helped by you, Jumpman can make it. Each of the four bombs at the top is worth 500 points, so it is worth some practice to get them.
The major hazard on this board is the bullets. There are far more than on any previous board, but generally only one at a time. You can avoid them or jump over them; we find avoidance more reliable.
Builder is the last board (whew!) of the beginner level. It is the first board with multiple bullets, and, for that reason, can be somewhat troublesome.
Start by jumping straight up, and then climb down the rope (it is the only way you can go). Clear the bottom two platforms in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Getting these lower bombs will build the upper two levels and cause four additional bombs to appear.
Be careful making the jump at L; it is a long leap that sometimes results in Jumpman plunging to an untimely death.
9. Look Out Below
Look Out Below is a deceptively simple board, but one that can trip up (or squash) the unwary. Each time you take a bomb, a block drops from either the platform you are on or from one overhead. A given bomb always triggers the same block. Don't jump over the holes in the girders or the fallen blocks--simply walk or run over them.
If you follow our pattern, be sure to pause at the two places marked with a P to avoid falling blocks. When retrieving a bomb at the end of a platform, be sure just to barely touch it and turn around quickly; otherwise you get a bump on the noggin (and lose a life).
Watch the bullets. There aren't too many, but when you are at the edge of the board, all it takes is one with your name on it, and bang--you're dead.
10. Hot Foot
No one we know likes Hot Foot. Our pattern is one of the best ways to complete it--there are others--but it is not foolproof.
First head straight down before the bullets start flying--there are lots of them on this board. Jump over the bomb closest to the center ladder. If you retrieve it, blocks will cover the outside bomb making it impossible to get. Retrieve the outside bomb, then get the one closer to the center. Then jump the pile of rubble to get to the ladder. Inevitably, you will land on the side of the ladder. To recover, you must jump straight up until you land on the bottom platform, then move squarely under the ladder and climb it.
Follow the pattern, and the top right bomb (M) will widen the center platform so you can jump to it. Now pick up the top bombs, climb down again, and repeat the procedure on the bottom right. This time when you climb up, go to the center (you will have to as a piece will be missing from the center section of the ladder).
Retrieving the pieces on the center platform will build two small towers next to the center ladder. These are climbing (up only) towers. In general they are hazards, except if you were killed by a bullet and need to get to a lower side bomb (N or P). Since the center ladder disintegrates rapidly and can't be descended, you must climb down it as far as possible, take a small jump to the right or left to the top of the tower and then jump to the down-sloping ramp.
If by some accident, one of the bottom bombs was covered by rubble, the only possible way to get it is to stand on top of the rubble pile, wait for a bullet to kill you, and hope you fall on the bomb. This, of course, is a sacrifice play, and it doesn't always work, but it is the only way.
Bullets, bullets, bullets. They fly fast and furious on this board. On Runaway, the bombs move about and you have to catch them any way you can.
Since the bombs move faster than you do, you have to get them when they are standing still or, better yet, anticipate their moves. In general, if a bomb moves off the side of the board (top, bottom, or either side), it will reappear on the other side or at the point from which it departed.
Since the bullets fly so fast on this board, it is worth your while to stay away from the edges. The side ladders are lethal; stay off them at all costs. The top platform is bad news too; avoid it if possible. Stick to the center area of the board where you can see the approaching bullets and take evasive action or, if you want, jump over them.
12. Robots II
The robots on this board are considerably more tenacious and nasty than the friendly little guys on Robots I. Nevertheless, they are dull-witted and can be outsmarted, if not outrun.
Follow our pattern carefully. Don't make the jump at point Q until the gray robot (the nastiest one) starts down the center ladder.
When you get down to the bottom level, depending upon your timing, one of three situations will exist. The first (and best) situation is that all three robots are dashing around on the top three levels; in this case just finish the pattern.
Another possibility is that some of them are fairly near you. Again, go ahead with the pattern--they will get out of your way.
The third situation occurs if you dilly dallied along the route and all three robots are homing in on the bottom right corner. Don't panic! By jumping the two gaps in the bottom right area of the board, and possibly going back to the third level, you can usually get away from the critters and finish the board. Remember, the robots can't jump, so you can generally escape to a platform that is safe by making a jump.
Hailstones is not a lucky 13 board-- everyone hates it. No pattern is absolutely foolproof, but ours is the result of many hours of experimentation by many players.
As the board scrolls into view, jam the joystick to the left, and get Jumpman up that left ladder as fast as you can. Get the bomb and come down. Four hailstones will be following closely.
At the bottom immediately run to the right ladder, up to the top and retrieve that bomb. Down again and run to the left to a point between the center and right platforms. Wait for four hailstones to appear from the top and then dash to the center structure and up the left side. Stop at the top of the rope ladder until four hailstones drop. Just before a hailstone is about to kill you, jump to the right, head up the ladder, and get the bombs before the hailstones hit the ground and more appear.
In general, hailstones fall in groups of four, but sometimes they appear in smaller groups. Groups of four closely spaced stones are the easiest with which to deal; the smaller groups are murder. There are never more than four hailstones on the screen. As soon as one hits the ground, another falls from above--at exactly the point at which Jumpman was when the last one hit the ground. Hailstones usually bounce off the rungs of the ladders; Jumpman is usually safe on a ladder except on the top three rungs.
Don't be discouraged if you lose four or five lives on this screen at first--and even after you are an accomplished player. It is a tough one!
14. Dragon Slayer
Like Invasion, on the Dragon Slayer board, you must collect only one bomb--at the lower left. You can't use the ropes; they are reserved for the dragons. On the way down, you can slay dragons for 50 points each.
You slay a dragon by pointing your joystick to the right or left and pressing the button. That releases your spear and, assuming your timing is correct, the dragon dies. But once one dies, another is reincarnated at the lower left and heads on up to breathe dragon fire upon you. So how do you get past this never-ending onslaught of dragons?
When the board opens, run left, down, right, down, and stand still. A dragon will be approaching. Kill it. (Practice a few spear throws so you know how far it goes, and don't forget to take into account the time the spear is in the air.) Kill the second dragon, which is close behind.
Run left and down to the second level. From the base of the ladder, kill the next four dragons. The next two should be spaced much closer together than the earlier ones. Stand on top of the mound and jump straight up when the dragon runs by. Do the same for the next dragon. Then run left (you should be just a bit behind the dragon one level overhead). Go down the ladder and to the left, and the bomb is yours.
Several cautions: you cannot jump the dragons when you are moving; trying to do so merely launches a spear. While you can jump a dragon on level ground, it is much easier to do so while standing on a mound. As you kill dragons, the mounds start to flatten out until all the platforms are perfectly flat. This is trouble. Try to get to the bottom before this happens.
A Few Hints
From here on, we are not going to give you patterns for the remaining 16 boards. In the first place, we haven't figured all of them out; in the second, we don't have space in the magazine; and in the third, we don't want to deprive you of the fun of figuring them out for yourself.
However, just to get you started on some of the trickier boards, here are a few hints.
On Grand Puzzle II(15), the bomb at the top left (R) drops a rope into the top center treasure box so you can get out once you get the treasure. To get the bottom treasure, you must get bomb(S) or (T) first. Either one makes you invisible. Climb down (by feel), jump the bomb on the bottom platform, and run through the treasure cage to get it. As in Grand Puzzle I, the board ends when four bombs are left.
One The Roost (17), immediately climb up a step or two on the left ladder, then back down and clear the bottom platform before those mad birds reappear at the bottom. The two top side bombs cause two others to appear at the bottom two corners. Vampires you can jump, but these birds are tough--stay out of their way if possible.
On Figurit (20), we have shown the first part of a pattern. Picking up these bombs in any other order makes it much more difficult, if not impossible, to finish the board.
On Follow The Leader (23), cruise back and forth along the lower part of the ramp for a l-o-n-g time before taking the first bomb. Your followers will do the same which will give you a chance to clear the rest of the board. Beware: the ladders at the lower left lose pieces which can put you into awkward situations.
On Mystery Maze (25), there are actually two mazes that start out the same. We have included an illustration of a portion of just one of the mazes.
On Gunfighter (26), gravity is 23 times normal and you can't jump. We usually don't worry about extra points here, just hurry to the bottom and finish the screen.
In Now You See It (28), as you grab various bombs, parts of the maze, or bombs, or both disappear and reappear. In addition, some of the bombs cause portions of the platforms to drop away. So as not to spoil it for you, our illustration shows only the ladders.
Good luck, and may all your leaps be successful!
Photo: 1 Easy Does It
Photo: 2 Robots I
Photo: 3 Bombs Away
Photo: 4 Jumping Blocks
Photo: 5 Vampire
Photo: 6 Invasion
Photo: 7 Grand Puzzle I
Photo: 8 Builder
Photo: 9 Look Out Below
Photo: 10 Hot Foot
Photo: 11 Runaway
Photo: 12 Robots II
Photo: 13 Hailstones
Photo: 14 Dragon Slayer
Photo: 15 Grand Puzzle II
Photo: 16 Ride Around
Photo: 17 The Roost
Photo: 18 Roll Me Over
Photo: 19 Ladder Challenge
Photo: 20 Figurit
Photo: 21 Jump and Run
Photo: 22 Freeze
Photo: 23 Follow the Leader
Photo: 24 The Jungle
Photo: 25 Mystery Maze
Photo: 26 Gunfighter
Photo: 27 Robots III
Photo: 28 Now You See It
Photo: 29 Going Down
Photo: 30 Grand Puzzle III