It’s the age-old battle between cats and dogs. Except for this time, the cats have a secret weapon: they can attack with ghostly stealth! Neko Ghost, Jump! is a fun new puzzle platform with a few twists to give you a new perspective. Welcome to Day 11 of our Halloween Game reviews.
What is Neko Ghost, Jump!?
Normally when I type ! and a ? close together like that, it’s because I’m going “WAH?!” in my head. Y’know, that kind of applies here. Neko Ghost, Jump! is a puzzle platformer game that flips between 2D and 3D mode (similar to Super Paper Mario—you can see our archive of reviews here ). And that’s where the “WAH?!” comes in because I cannot tell you how many tries it took me to get my head around the flipping between 2D and 3D.
‘Neko’ is the Japanese word for cat, setting the scene for this cute Chibi-anime style cartoon game featuring the infamous war between cats and dogs. It starts with the peaceful world of cats, going about their business, falling in love, getting married. The usual. THEN OUT OF NOWHERE, their peaceful planet is invaded by the villainous space-pirate dogs! You play as Nekoman, saved by your mentor after you watched those dastardly dogs kidnap your new bride and attempt to escape into space. But something changed during the process. Though you survived the initial attack, you have taken on a new skill: Ghost form! Your physical form will help you progress through the maze of puzzles to save your bride (and fellow cats) but it’s the ghost-form that will reign terror on those who stand in your way!
Solve Puzzles With a Fresh Perspective
The key feature of this game is the ability to change between 2D and 3D at will. Too many times I have struggled with the lack of perspective, hindering my ability to see a puzzle properly; Neko Ghost, Jump! has resolved that! That doesn’t mean I’ve become a master. Not even close. It still requires coordination to flip between the two. Despite that, it’s a mechanic I quite like and works well with the story.
The platforms themselves are easy to navigate, not requiring too much fiddling around or exact-ness to solve the puzzles. The real challenge comes from changing perspective to see what the actual puzzle is. I love this feature because it makes the game super-accessible for every age and ability.
Cute But Deadly
Cute Chibi-style animation is a big thing at the moment. It makes everything look adorable… until the ghost-form turns up and stabs you in the back. It’s almost like this game was written by a cat-person? To be fair, the animation is a sweet general appeal to the fun nature of the game. I really appreciate how the game hasn’t gone overboard with the color palette, keeping it bright enough to match the feel without trying too hard to be a comic.
Playing in ghost-form adds an extra dimension to the game. To battle his foes, Nekoman needs to change into a ghost-form, which allows him to take up a more vengeful attack. It’s an entertaining view but one that can hold you up in the race to the finish line. Once you have finished battling your foes, your ghost form travels back to wherever you left your physical form. It clears the path ahead but does not save you any time.
Race Against the Clock
Time is an issue because Neko Ghost, Jump! is also a speedrunner. Each level is set against the clock, with bonus points and achievements when you beat your personal best or the standing record. The need for speed gives the puzzles an extra push as you constantly flip between 2D/3D modes to find the fastest path to the finish line.
Currently, the game is only available in demo mode on Steam (with the full game coming later in the year to a bunch of other platforms). The demo version only allows one major biome, which is enough to gain a taste of the mechanics. Burgos Games, the developers, have announced further biomes are planned for the game include sandy deserts and snowy arctic zones (as seen in the trailers). The demo has definitely grabbed my attention and I’m eager to see how the puzzles evolve in new areas.
The Finish Line
Neko Ghost, Jump! is worth showing the kids on Steam and letting them test the flip between 2D/3D and physical/ghost-form. I am ashamed to admit 8-year-old Zaltu was able to manage it better than I did. The cute graphics and enlarged puzzle platforms make it appealing to younger ages but the complexity of the puzzles and the speedrun feature will tempt the most competitive of teens and adults. Once this hits the Switch/PS/Xbox, I can see this game becoming a family fave in many households as we all compete for Ultimate Speed Neko!
Neko Ghost, Jump! is available in demo form on Steam, with the full version coming later in 2021 to Steam, Nintendo Switch, PS 4/5, Xbox One/Series, Atari VCS, and Epic Games. No compensation was received for this review. You can find more details on the official website here.
Score: 3.5 out of 5 Pirate ScallyDogs