Hands-On With Jazz: Trump’s Journey

January 19 promises to be a big day for iOS releases, and one of the most talked-about is certain to be JAZZ: Trump’s Journey. That this collaboration from Bulkypix and French developer Egg Ball just oozes style is obvious in screenshots, but with little footage to speak of yet, its gameplay must be something of an enigma to curious iDevice owners. We’ll have a full review on release day, but let’s peel back a bit of the mystery in the meantime.

In an interesting twist JAZZ is said to draw inspiration from the life of Louis Armstrong, with main character Trump gradually recalling his similar rise from aspiring trumpeter to famous band leader. The strength and accuracy of the parallel will surely be a subject of hot debate, but with the game taking place in early 20th century New Orleans in any case, it’s an ingenious way of getting players curious about the history of jazz.

So how does a developer squeeze a game out of a highly stylized, semi-fictional autobiography? It’s surprisingly easy when your star is not only a jazz musician, but also a wall-jumping, time-manipulating ninja! You read that right. I hardly went into this expecting my nostalgia for Tecmo’s Ninja Gaiden revamp and Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time to crop up, but JAZZ almost feels like those games were molded into an intriguing 2D puzzle platformer. As Trump re-lives his experiences by way of fanciful stages devoted to encounters with friends and family, he nabs photographs to keep the memories flowing. These are often tucked into high corners or require some serious acrobatic footwork over moving platforms before they’re in reach, but Trump takes it all in stride with his wall kicking prowess and a trumpet that freezes objects in place however long the player likes.

The first few stages we’ve played show plenty of promise for an engaging action adventure and logic puzzle experience. Initially simple block-pushing and switch-hitting segments have evolved into serious brain teasers already, and if gameplay elements continue to be stirred in at the rate we’ve seen so far, JAZZ will seriously vie for the affections of genre fans come release day. To give you an idea just how much creativity the developers have pumped into this one, even the main menu is a level in and of itself; heck, a Game Center achievement waits for players adventurous enough to climb all the way up to the credits room!

We need to get back to assembling Trump’s bandmates for now, so check back with iFanzine later this week for a full report. You can find more screens in Bulkypix’s press release, and here’s a link to EggBall’s website for good measure. Let’s also direct you to EggBall’s longtime musical collaborator Bande de Sons, who transform into a bona fide jazz ensemble especially for this project. You weren’t expecting chiptunes, were you?

JAZZ: Trump’s Journey is expected to retail for $2.99 USD as a universal title.