Most people have seen or are familiar with Jackass, but let’s refresh our memories. The Jackass TV show and movies are a series of often-hilarious, often-painful stunts, done by the same guys who normally sit in the corner during gym class giving each other rope burns and yanking down each other’s shorts. The show hasn’t been on the air for a couple of years, and the movies have been out long enough to be forgotten. In other words, it’s the perfect time to make a Jackass game for the Nintendo DS!
They attempted to do something different with this Jackass: The Game for the DS. While other versions were mostly collections of gross-out minigames, this game is more like a sandbox stunt game. Think Tony Hawk, Jackass-style. It sounds like an interesting idea, but how does it play?
The first thing you’ll notice is that Jackass: The Game is pretty blocky. You can’t really fault the game, as the DS isn’t really that great for 3D stuff. Still, I should never have to look at something on the screen and ask myself, “Is that an ostrich?” I should know whether or not Object X is an ostrich before I walk up to it. (For the record, it was an ostrich.) Another thing is you can’t tell who the various characters are until you talk to them. When you talk to them you see a drawing of the character on the screen with whatever emotion they’re showing at the time (i.e. horniness, disgust, anger, disgustingly angry horniness). The drawings are actually pretty good, but I should be able to tell who they are before I talk to them.
The levels are all pretty big. However, because of the level size, you have a lot of fade-in. One of the major gameplay elements is launching yourself into the air and trying to hit small-ish targets. A lot of times you can’t see these targets when you’re launching yourself, and halfway through your flight when the object comes into view, you have hammer on the buttons and try and correct your path. If that sounds really annoying, it’s because it is. There’s some basic ragdoll physics in the game too, which look fairly good for a DS game.
The best-sounding track in the game is the original Jackass theme that plays in the beginning of the game. Instead of going with that “hillbillies hurting themselves” vibe, they went with electric guitar tracks. All right, fine. Understandable. You’ll still hear the same couple of riffs repeatedly, and repetition doesn’t make them sound any better.
The sounds are all pretty repetitive. Every time you make even a little jump, you’ll start hearing the wind whistling past you like you’re falling from a skyscraper. You’ll hear the same couple of groans when you finish a stunt, or when you walk into a trash can. The most notable of the offenders is the cell-phone ring, which you fortunately don’t hear often. It seems like it’s 3 times louder than every other sound in the game. The sound, like the whole game, feels like a rush job.
When you’re walking around, your character walks pretty fast. As long as you’re running and jumping, the controls are fine. However, you don’t do any stunts running and jumping. The name of the game is riding vehicles like wagons and the aforementioned ostriches and launching yourself into the air.. The vehicles control fairly well. Movement when you’re in the air? Not so much. Turning is a pain in the butt, and if you happen to have misgauged your distance even slightly, you have to crash, watch your character writhe in pain, watch the “Mission Failed” screen, and then walk back to where you got the mission. Remember, it
The gameplay consists of walking up to the various people in the Jackass crew and having them give you a stunt to do. These aren’t stunts that Jackass would do, for the most part. Oh sure, on Jackass they ride in shopping carts. The whole show isn’t about riding in shopping carts, though, and they certainly don’t leap from said shopping carts, grab on to flagpoles, and use them like slingshots to land on Red Ryder wagons.
If that previous description sounds like fun, you’re not wrong in thinking that it could be. The problem is that if you miss a stunt, you have to go back to the exact same guy and do the same stunt over and over until you get it. You can’t go to a different guy and get a new stunt, and there’s no option to start over on the stunt you just missed. You can go back and do old stunts, but there’s no point, since they’re all exactly the same: Chain together a couple of generic, same-y stunts, and then land as hard as you can to break your bones.
If that still sounds like fun, don’t worry, I’m getting to something here.
The dialogue in the game is absolutely horrible. Many times, you don’t really know what the stunt is you have to do until you get on your vehicle and see your next target, or see the couple of words that give you a basic idea of the stunt. Most of the time, the dialogue is just to throw in as many scatological references as possible. I don’t mind gross humor. I love gross jokes, and jokes about bodily functions rank are all right in by book, but this dialogue looks like it was written by a 12-year-old with Tourette’s. Plus, it’s pretty ridiculous when they’re trying to be “edgy,” but every swear word is edited.
Here’s what I’m getting to: If this game was called “Extreme Stuntmen!” and featured a comical guy on the front cover flying through the air with a scared expression on his face, and if they were able to spend a little more time rubbing down the rough edges, this would be an awesome, hilarious game. It would be the kind of game that ends up on sleeper lists of “Games you passed over but are really cool.” Instead, it You’re not going to go back and replay the stunts, for the most part. There’s things to collect, but there’s clipping problems in the game. You can fly right through an item and still not pick it up, which is obnoxious. Jackass: The Game is fun at first, but the fun fades within an hour of playtime. In fact, I dreaded having to keep playing this game, but I did it out of a sense of responsibility. You have no such responsibility, so why even subject yourself to it?