Jazzpunk

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Jazzpunk game cover art

In Jazzpunk, you are a secret agent named Polyblank and you will meet robot prostitutes, fly people, Scottish hula dancers and hobos.

ConsolePC/Mac/Linux, PlayStation 4
DeveloperNecrophone Games
PublisherAdult Swim Games
GenreWalking simulator, adventure, first-person shooter
Release Year2014, 2016
Purchase (PC/Mac/Linux)Purchase from Humble Store.
Purchase (PS4)Purchase from PlayStation Store.

In an alternate dimension where Japan may have conquered the western world and the Cold War era somehow has cyberpunk settings, we follow the bizarre adventures of Polyblank, a secret agent settled in the United Prefectures of Japanada. I couldn’t say that sentence with a straight face, which summarizes my entire playthrough of Jazzpunk.

Jazzpunk gameplay "I know where you sleep at night"

It’s one of those video games that is comparable to an action figure you had as a kid. When you press a button, it shouts corny catchphrases. But among them, some weird and questionable stuff that a young kid probably shouldn’t be hearing.

And then you cackle like an idiot because you get the joke.

Soon after, you throw the action figure off a building and scream like a girl to simulate the actual character making a death scream. And when it hits the pavement, you said, “Owie.”

This is what it’s like playing Jazzpunk. It’s like this goofy shit you’ve done as a kid turned into a video game, complete with eccentricity and weirdness. And you couldn’t get enough of it because it’s the joke that keeps on being funny.

Welcome to Japanada, home of the fly-geishas.

 

Your Prescription of Missionoyl

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Jazzpunk starts off with you (Polyblank) entering a subway station, while literally inside a human-shaped suitcase. Once you get briefed by the Director of the organization known as Nexus6, you take on your first mission: stealing back a stolen data cartridge from a Soviet consulate.

And from there, you’re free to experience the madness of this strange, sTrAnGe world. And you access it by taking augmented reality pills called Missionoyl-Amphibamine-Dextrose.

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The gameplay of Jazzpunk can be best described as a free-roam walking simulator where you must complete a mission objective to end the current chapter. Occasionally, you will come across mini-games that deviate from the normal gameplay (stuff based on Frogger, Space Invaders, and Quake III Arena to name a few). Along the way, there are numerous events and NPCs you can interact with. Most of the time, you will encounter funny one-liners or strange occurrences that will make you laugh your ass off.

In any case, Jazzpunk is a game for those who are willing to take the time to explore a world to get the most out of it. It’s not for players who want a fast-paced action game or an engaging narrative-driven game. The entire point of Jazzpunk is its humor; whether it’s a clever pun, a visual gag or slapstick involving wacky game physics.

If watching this old (and real) commercial of the Swing Wing in a theater doesn’t make you laugh your ass off, I don’t know what will.

In a sense, Jazzpunk is a similar game to The Stanley Parable, in being that it’s a walking simulator with an emphasis on its humor. The difference here is that The Stanley Parable has a more clear and focused narrative, while weird stuff just happens in Jazzpunk.

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This is not to say Jazzpunk isn’t enjoyable without a clear story. Everything from its stylized visuals (where everyone looks like bathroom signs) to its oddball settings paved a way for an interesting world for you to explore. You just wonder how stuff works; how your character can survive a high fall without breaking anything, how much actual humanity people have left, why there are cyborgs and virtual worlds in the Cold War era, etc. `Also throw in numerous references to other media, some of which I could identify:

List of References

  • Blade Runner
  • Evil Dead II
  • Frogger
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • James Bond
  • Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers
  • Panasonic 3DO
  • Pokémon​
  • Quake III
  • Ren & Stimpy
  • The Shining
  • Space Invaders
  • Star Wars
  • Street Fighter II
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Tetris
  • Virtual Boy games

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Overall, it’s best for you to play the game yourself and figure out the numerous jokes and references you can catch. Without giving away too much, there are plenty of Easter eggs for you to track down and some are pretty well hidden. If surreal humor and pop cultural references aren’t your thing, then this game may not be for you.

 

Flavour Nexus

Sometime in 2017, Necrophone Games updated the game to a Director’s Cut, adding in more content for free. Alongside the Director’s Cut, the developer also released a DLC chapter called Flavour Nexus, three years after the game’s original PS4 release.

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And, well, would I recommend it? No. While its standard price goes for $2.99 on Steam, it’s a pretty thin chapter that simply doesn’t compare to anything the base game already threw at you.

The premise is that you’re visiting the grocery store to buy some smelling salts. But being Jazzpunk, you get sidetracked by the store’s gag products. The gags themselves are structured in a linear fashion and you’ll soon learn that the market itself is rather small.

While Flavour Nexus has a couple of hilarious highlights, the copy-pasted gag products aren’t particularly funny. In fact, the joke wears itself thin quickly as you see some of the same products pop up again and again.

If you’re keen on supporting the developer and getting a couple more chuckles, then go ahead and get Flavour Nexus. Just keep your expectations low.

Overall, if you’re looking for a quirky adventure game, then Jazzpunk is the way to go.

Jazzpunk

$14.99
8.5

GAMEPLAY

8.5/10

GRAPHICS

8.0/10

SOUNDTRACK

9.0/10

Pros

  • The surreal comedy is brilliantly done.
  • Numerous strange events and Easter eggs to find.
  • The art style of the faceless characters strangely works for this oddball setting.
  • The Wedding Qake mini-game is surprisingly a fun Quake clone.

Cons

  • This is a very niche game for people who simply want to have a good laugh, rather than for solid gameplay or an interesting narrative.
  • The Flavour Nexus DLC isn't terribly satisfying and just makes you want to go back to playing the base game.
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