• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

Jimmy and the Pulsating Masterpiece

  • unity
  • 08/15/2018 04:16 PM
  • 3161 views
Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass is Kasey Ozymy's latest RPG, a full length epic in a land of whimsy and wonder befitting its eight-year-old protagonist. With a style very reminiscent of Earthbound from the graphics, the fun and wacky monster designs and some aspects of the battle system, this game scores major nostalgia points, but it goes much deeper than that, and is extremely enjoyable on its own merits far beyond that comparison.

This is a big game. I've sunk over 45 hours into it, and while I've beaten the game, Housekeeping has put loads of post-game content in here which will keep you occupied for a very long time. I feel like I have a ton more content that I've yet to uncover even now.


Every location on Jimmy's journey is whimsical and unique!


You navigate this world in a very neat overworld that you might describe as Chrono Trigger-like. When you go near a location, its name pops up and you press confirm to enter the location. It is very visually impressive as well as instead of a general tile-based overworld, it looks unique like it was done in a parallax style.


Look at the unique land masses! Isn't that rad?


Jimmy's an empathetic and caring boy with a big imagination. This comes in handy, as every now and then Jimmy will face a unique monster and after the battle, use his imagination to become that monster! The imagination system is one of my favorite parts of the game, as it really allows a ton of flexibility in how you play which increases with the more monsters you unlock!

There are a total of eight creatures Jimmy can become, and each has their own on-map ability as well as a set of skills and unlockable passive abilities. This both allows for on-map interaction such as breaking things, jumping ledges, finding new areas, or just checking how many Toy Boxes (this game's version of chests) are left in a stage, as well as giving Jimmy his own one-man job system.


Star slots can be used in any monster form, and the rest apply only to normal Jimmy!


Each monster form gains EXP in addition to Jimmy's overall EXP. You can unlock skills and passives from one monster and equip them to be used with others, or equip a bunch of them on Jimmy's main form and just be yourself! (though I didn't do that until late game, because I wanted more EXP for the monsters!) Also, each monster has a unique stat increase that you get every time you level it, which even further adds to the customization. Feel like your main attacks aren't hitting hard enough? Be a bear for a little bit and get a permanent +1 to attack power every time you level that form!

This very much reminds me of the fun part of job systems like Final Fantasy 5's and Final Fantasy Tactics, where you make your own custom additions to your characters, but in this case it only applies to Jimmy. The system is deep enough that I don't mind that only the main character has access to it, and the rest of the characters can equip skill manuals that give them a bit of customization too, which works well.

A big draw of this system is being able to change your form on the fly in battle, with a cooldown so you can't change every turn. Being able to go "Oh, I need some magic attacks here" or "I need to be able to reflect spells" or "the party really needs some healing" and changing to suit the needs in battle as they arise is really satisfying, and having two reliable skills that can stick with you in any form makes you feel like you have a good amount of control no matter which form you are using.

As I mentioned before, on the field these same monsters can be used to perform various tasks. Need to slip through a tight space or between bars? Become a blob! Need to shake an item out of a tree or move something? Become a goon. Need to cross a gap? Become a bird. Need to go into a mirror and see the odd other reality that exists within (and might have treasure inside?) There's a form for that, too!


Wheeee! Cloud jumping!


While its usually pretty clear what form you need to be to cross any given obstacle on the map (except once when I forgot that the blob can slip through bars XD;;) there are also times when what you need to do is a bit more obscure. These are usually limited to secrets and hidden side areas, however, so you can always come back to them later.

And speaking of side areas and secrets, BOY DOES THIS GAME HAVE A TON OF THEM! At first I found a few here and there, and the next thing I noticed they were just about everywhere! If you love uncovering secrets and finding new places, this is the game for you! (Just be wary that secret areas can have tougher monsters. If they are too strong for you, remember the spot and come back later!)


Is that a passage over there? Did I find ANOTHER secret!?


The dungeons themselves often have fun gimmicks as well. This really makes traveling the world more interesting. The variety of things going on in the dungeons is really something to behold. It can vary between changing seasons to alter the map, falling from above to reach places below, manipulating geometric shapes to open doors, and a lot more. There's also a repeating merchant character who shows up in dungeons and offers you strange deals that add a little twist to your travels.


Grim Echoes is like the best-themed land ever. It is also home to a spooky abandoned mall! And later there's even a spooky theme park!


Before I go any further, I should talk about the story. Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass is very much about the feeling of the worlds and the emotions they invoke. It feels more like a journey of imagination rather than a character-driven deep narrative. Is that to say there's no story in this game? Absolutely not! But a lot of it is hidden and given to you piecemeal.

One of the biggest criticisms I've heard about the game is that your quest on the first continent is just joining up with your brother and getting honey so your mom can make a cake. This is true! The start of the story feels very slow, as far as the overall narrative is concerned. But I implore you to keep with it, at the very least until you complete that first quest and return home with the honey and see what happens next.

The story very much picks up soon after. It's never a fast-past story of political intrigue or complex character drama, but there's plenty going on, and a large cast of characters, many of which you run into often during your journey. The struggles of Jimmy and his family in this fantasy world genuinely kept me interested for hours and hours!


Even the Information Guy who tells you how to play the game has his own weird stuff going on. Well, it's complicated.


As for why the start is so slow... I think it revolves around it. It being the force that opposes Jimmy. You see, this game has a creepy side. An uncomfortable side. Jimmy's nightmares seem to have a way of seeping into the world. Usually these are limited to hidden areas, but the darkness creeps into the main storyline as well.

I believe the start of the game is slow so Housekeeping can lull the player into a false sense of security before he starts letting the darkness wriggle in. What starts as a quest for honey turns into a race against a dark force that corrupts everything it touches.

While it isn't the most original villain in some respects, it feels like a world-consuming Giygas-like force made more personal and it fits the story perfectly. Its taunts and tenacious ability to keep standing in Jimmy's way is very chilling and unnerving, and as the game nears the end everything clicks and it just works. I will hide the moment when I understood what was going on, as its a potential spoiler. View after completing the game XD
but the moment it all clicked for me and I understood was when I looked into the telescope in the central hub. As everything fell into place in my mind, I had chills.




With that aside, there is more to the story than just the central struggle. The world is filled with weird and wonderful characters who I grew to love over the journey. The ones you grow closest to are your family, and learning more about these people was very touching! You get most of this from a child's point of view, but the characters personalities still come through really strong. Your brother's nerd-bashing body-building gruffness (but you know he loves Jimmy), your mom's endless optimism and cheeriness, your dad's lovable but strict and bookish manner, your uncle's laid-back, carefree but insecure outlook... it's all wonderful.

And there is a large supporting cast outside of your family. My favorite character is Punch Tanaka, a local thug and super-cool leader of the goons who are the first to stand in Jimmy's way. He keeps popping up and is a delight each time.

Marry me, Punch Tanaka.


This all brings to mind the writing that brings these characters to life. It is extraordinarily well done. There is a lot of really strong humor in this game, and I laughed out loud quite a few times at the quirky characters and their observations. And as the game goes on, there is a lot of really touching stuff, too.

Housekeeping has always excelled in writing, and it shows here. He can write a quirky game like this with the same skill he hooked me with all the way back in A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky. Really, really good stuff.

And speaking of things that Housekeeping excels at, there is the music, all of which he composed specially for this game. It both feels very Earthbound-y and very original at the same time, if that's possible to describe. It is super catchy and I often get the Legato music and several of the battle themes stuck in my head. I would very heartily recommend the soundtrack to this game.

But its not just pleasant melodies that make the atmosphere of the game. There are several very creepy soundscapes that accompany the more sinister parts of the game. I totally love that brooding suspenseful chilling side to the game, and the music playing in these areas is absolutely perfect. Real grade-A survival horror-ish ambiance stuff here.


BUT WHO WAS PHONE!? Jokes aside, this area is extremely creepy.


One thing you need to keep in mind with this game, despite the cutesy look of (most) of it, the game gets really hard fairly quickly! Battles get intense, especially boss battles, which can last a really long time in some cases. There's no difficulty modes as far as I found, so you'll have to embrace the challenge! You may have to grind to make it through some of them, or reconfigure your skills or what monster form you're using. But boy does it feel satisfying when a boss who was giving you trouble finally hits the dirt!

A tip, the Startle status affect works on bosses, too. As long as you are faster than them, you can startle them and waste their turn, but they become immune to it longer each time you startle them. There is an item early on in the game (The Bee Stinger, I think?) that startles as part of its regular attack, and there's a reason that the bird's Startle ability takes so many levels to inherit. Make use of them!

Thankfully, the battles are pretty well balanced, and most of the things the enemies can do doesn't feel too cheap (see my nitpicks section at the end of the review for the rare exceptions to this). And Housekeeping has made a huge variety of enemies, some of which have rather ingenious battle tactics. It is always fun to see what weird trick an enemy may pull or how they interact with the steal mechanic (another tip: it's a lot of fun to steal from any enemy you can! Any "?" item they have will influence the battle rather than just getting you an item)


I love this dragon.


There are also some minigames to play which are all quite nice. I have no idea how Housekeeping pulled some of them off, like the Skee-Ball one. Like, look at this thing! The ball flies in and is completely animated and everything! How'd he do this in RPG Maker? XD I have no clue, but I'm guessing that it wasn't easy. Kudos for this and the other fun minigames!


Seriously, it boggles the mind! Really!


At this point, you may be wondering "Hey unity! You said nothing but mostly good things about this game! Is it perfect? Isn't there anything you hate about it?"

Perfect? No. As a game it has a goal and it completes that goal very very well. But if you can't get past the slow start, or if you don't like taking your time and visiting new cool places that are either fun and cute or creepy or both, then the game might not be for you. If you need a tight and concise plot that spells everything out for you, you may be disappointed. If you don't like nail-biting battles and sometimes overly-long boss battles you may not like it. But everything else is very, very well done and the total package is something to behold.

As for things I dislike? None of them are deal-breakers and all of them are nitpicks. I'm going to leave them here under a hide-tag in case you're curious.


IT'S NITPICK TIME! :D As these are nitpicks, please take with a grain of salt.

-I feel like there are too many monsters and bosses with Instant Death skills, and I don't recall picking up any trinkets that negate or lessen their effect. In some cases it seems somewhat appropriate, as when you're in the dark and there's a nasty monster, and you learn to always take that one out, but then the farther you get in the game, there are more and more monsters and bosses that can just kill you.

Instant Death isn't interesting as a mechanic, in my personal opinion, if there's nothing you as a player can do about it. If the move is telegraphed and you can try to prevent it, that's a little less egregious, but I felt a lot of times it came out of nowhere. When battle is already difficult and you are about to make a move that turns the tide of battle and are just killed off, it is very frustrating.

Also the item prices rise as the game progresses, which is neat, but having to spend a lot of money on Alarm Clocks to revive people who die to Instant Death feels like a money-sink.

-Speaking of money... Things are often very expensive, and you have to be wise with your purchasing decisions. This is fine to me as I like that aspect! But, there is something that throws it off.

When I first played the demo, I noticed there were chests that will raise the money in your bank account by 20%! I was excited by that! When I bought the game and started over, I always placed most of my money in the bank so I could get that boost. But then I didn't find any chests like that, when I swore I had in the demo...

Turns out that the effects you get from chests (not the items, just the effects) are random. Again, this is just a nitpick, but I only managed to get two of the 20% money bonuses until I reached ShinRyu, and only then did it seem to pick up.

-The art style is perfect for the whimsical nature of the game, but some of it irks the artist in me, especially when it has to do with perspective. For example, look at the very first screenshot I posted, the one of Legato. Look at the water fountain. Then look at the tree to the left of it. You can see the tree as if you are looking from a low point of view, but you can see the fountain (and most other things) as if you are looking from an overhead view. This hurts artists' brains XD

There are several instances of this. Look at the shoe-house in Smile for another example. It looks like it doesn't have mass and is just a proped-up board from that perspective. Again, this isn't a huge problem, and is an error I've made in my own games and surely will keep making, but I have to bring it up XD;

-I would have liked some stronger female characters. Don't get me wrong, I love Helga very, very much! But she's very stereotypical in a lot of aspects. She uses "Mothering" as a skillset and equips handbags for crying out loud XD I know that's like the point; she's a very motherly kind of mother (and honestly I wish she was my mom growing up XD) but I'm always a little disappointed when any game puts a female in your party and says "Here, have a healer lady who is the girliest girl" and she's the main female presence in the game.

I like girly girls, but not when they're all we get. I mean, we get Hitomi for a short while, but she's not much better. Would have been nice to get some DeeDee in the party. Again, it makes sense, as it fits Jimmy's worldview, and I am super guilty of having games that don't even have any guys in them, but I felt like I should point it out.

-Speaking of Hitomi, I felt like she was the weakest character and honestly not a very good Magical Girl spoof. Her outfit doesn't look very magical girl-esce at all, especially in the visual-novel cutscenes (looks like a sweater with a gem on it), and the jokes surrounding her are pretty old. Which isn't too damning, but her personality was kind of meh to me.

I mean, maybe her personality's a jab at anime characterization? But it would have been nice to have an anime trope character for Lars that connected to the subject a bit deeper than "Sailor Moon but Not." I was at least happy to see someone aside from Jimmy that loves Lars though :DDDDDDD

-The Super Rad Ghost. Regular Rad Ghosts are fine, but not once could I beat the Super Rad one without the entire party inflicted with ennui and thus I got zero EXP from it. Damn you, Super Rad Ghost XD


That seems like a lot of words I just typed, but really, all that stuff is very nitpicky and minor and didn't detract from my enjoyment of the game.

In conclusion, I think this game is a masterpiece despite some small shortcomings. I don't regret any of the 45+ hours I've put into it or the $14.99 I spent purchasing it. And, if some of the attention its getting is any indication, it looks like more people are noticing it as well. I wish nothing but success for this lovely game and hope it goes far!


:DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

Posts

Pages: 1
Wow, Unity, I'm going to cry! I'm just very happy that you enjoyed the game! The problem with spending like four years on a game--and I know lots of people here can relate--is that you're totally in a vacuum during that time, so you begin to experience a lot of self-doubt. So, after releasing the game, the thing I was hungriest for was to just see people's reactions, and I've been so blessed that people have been able to connect with and enjoy Jimmy (despite some things, like the tough boss encounters, that I've been scared to death would be a turnoff).

Your nitpicks are totally valid. I've learned a lot about art from all the time I spent on making assets for this game, but, yeah, I still have more to learn, and there's so much that I didn't improve since it would have been such a time sink (poor Mr. Marvelous's childhood home...). Better and more female characters would have been nice, too; I was a little worried about that (and representation in general). I was writing myself into a corner a bit since I'm working from the world perspective of an eight-year-old whose only understanding of Asian people is anime that his uncle showed him. I tried to round out Helga, though, but a lot of that is implicit stuff.

Anyway, thanks so much for the review! Five stars...feels pretty damn sweet.

author=unity
There are also some minigames to play which are all quite nice. I have no idea how Housekeeping pulled some of them off, like the Skee-Ball one. Like, look at this thing! The ball flies in and is completely animated and everything! How'd he do this in RPG Maker? XD I have no clue, but I'm guessing that it wasn't easy. Kudos for this and the other fun minigames!


Lots of pictures.
unity
You're magical to me.
11162
author=Housekeeping
Wow, Unity, I'm going to cry! I'm just very happy that you enjoyed the game! The problem with spending like four years on a game--and I know lots of people here can relate--is that you're totally in a vacuum during that time, so you begin to experience a lot of self-doubt. So, after releasing the game, the thing I was hungriest for was to just see people's reactions, and I've been so blessed that people have been able to connect with and enjoy Jimmy (despite some things, like the tough boss encounters, that I've been scared to death would be a turnoff).


I completely get that feeling! Working in isolation is like a pot with the lid on. You're making content but you have no idea how it will be received, and the more you make and the longer time passes, the more the pressure seems to build up! I'm so glad Jimmy got released so you could finally see what people think of all your great work! :DDDDD

As for the difficulty, I like myself a good challenge, and have been playing RPGs since the Dragon Quest I and Final Fantasy I days, so I've got a very "bring it on!" mentality to a lot of RPG difficulty (Tho I learned there are people much, much more difficulty-loving ever since I joined this site XD). And like I said, I felt the difficulty was almost always fair rather than being cheap, so it didn't bother me a whole lot.

author=Housekeeping
Your nitpicks are totally valid. I've learned a lot about art from all the time I spent on making assets for this game, but, yeah, I still have more to learn, and there's so much that I didn't improve since it would have been such a time sink (poor Mr. Marvelous's childhood home...).


I think ultimately you made the right decision. I feel like so many game developers spend so long chasing absolute perfection that they never release anything. I've learned to embrace imperfection to some level. Do your best, fix jarring errors, but ultimately don't let things slow you down or keep games from getting made.

I'd much rather live in a world with a lot of Housekeeping games rather than you having to constantly redo everything to get every aspect absolutely perfect. One of your games having some perspective errors is a small price to pay IMO. Not to mention that the child's worldview thing makes it a little easier to dismiss ^_^

author=Housekeeping
Better and more female characters would have been nice, too; I was a little worried about that (and representation in general). I was writing myself into a corner a bit since I'm working from the world perspective of an eight-year-old whose only understanding of Asian people is anime that his uncle showed him. I tried to round out Helga, though, but a lot of that is implicit stuff.


I feel like you still did very well! Even though she has stereotypical aspects, I felt that by the end of the game Helga seemed well-developed and very endearing. Scenes like the one with her slumped on the floor until Lars cheered her up really stuck with me and made her feel much more whole!

author=Housekeeping
Anyway, thanks so much for the review! Five stars...feels pretty damn sweet.


You're very welcome! Thanks for making such a fun game! Seriously, this game was a huge pick-me-up while I was fighting a seriously mean case of pnemonia and couldn't get out of bed, so it was a lifesaver to have something so fun to turn to as a distraction from my ills. ^_^

Do you have any plans for future games beyond Jimmy?

author=Housekeeping
author=unity
There are also some minigames to play which are all quite nice. I have no idea how Housekeeping pulled some of them off, like the Skee-Ball one. Like, look at this thing! The ball flies in and is completely animated and everything! How'd he do this in RPG Maker? XD I have no clue, but I'm guessing that it wasn't easy. Kudos for this and the other fun minigames!
Lots of pictures.


Wow. Sounds like a whole lot of work went into it! (I mean, that's true of the game as a whole too XD)
I've got lots of game ideas, but I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do yet. It depends on how well Jimmy does. More broadly, I'm going to try to move towards a new engine (maybe unity). The game I want to do now would be heavily inspired by the short-lived Lennus series; I've been planning out stuff for it in my free time the past few weeks. Hopefully I can make enough money from Jimmy to justify setting out on a new project. It's looking like I'll be able to kind of scrape by, but, I mean, who knows with these things.
unity
You're magical to me.
11162
Wow, Lennus! I had no idea that series even existed, until very recently, when someone compared my tilesets from Luxaren Allure to Lennus II! I've since played a large chunk of that game and just been really enamored with the weird and wonderful design of the world, how it looks alien yet fantasy, high tech yet primitive! I can see that working really well in your style, especially with your love of big awesome setpieces like the Legs of the Giant. I think that would be really awesome!

As for a new engine, that's really exciting! I tried Unity myself but got stumped at the programming phase (>.<;;) though I may try again sometime. I hope Jimmy goes through the roof with sales so that you can fund any future projects, but I have no idea how steam sales of indie titles go, but I do know that Jimmy seems to have a lot of ingredients that draw people in and stands out so much against the sea of bland unpolished samey RPG Maker drivel that exists on Steam.
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
10503
THIS IS AWESOME

I wasn't going to buy this to be honest because I don't know if I have 50 hours to sink in, but all these glowing reviews are making me reconsider. Looks like you have a darn classic on your hands, Housekeeping.

Great writing, as always, unity! So happy for this fantastic, incredible success of a game :)
unity
You're magical to me.
11162
author=CashmereCat
THIS IS AWESOME

I wasn't going to buy this to be honest because I don't know if I have 50 hours to sink in, but all these glowing reviews are making me reconsider. Looks like you have a darn classic on your hands, Housekeeping.

Great writing, as always, unity! So happy for this fantastic, incredible success of a game :)

Thank you so much! :DDDDD If you end up buying it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Oh, I forgot to put this in the review proper, but there is one bug that currently affects gameplay in a pretty big way. The Large Sprite script can cause the game to lag if you play it for a good chunk of time in one sitting. So what I ended up doing to remedy this was to save and quit after an hour or two and then to restart the program to keep the lag down. This probably isn't any fault of Housekeeping himself but it bears mentioning for anyone planning to purchase the game.
Paladin's Quest was one of those weird games I picked up when I was a kid and really liked. The weird atmosphere really stuck with me. And, I played through Lennus 2 when it got translated and loved it. What I want to do is take that idea of a hostile world where all your companions are mercenaries with their own goals and really expand on it.

I don't know if it's a classic, Cash, but I'm proud of my little game baby. If you give it a shot, I hope you enjoy it!
author=Housekeeping
The game I want to do now would be heavily inspired by the short-lived Lennus series; I've been planning out stuff for it in my free time the past few weeks.


I love the Lennus series. Using all your equipment to interesting effect in battle, the HP for MP system, the elemental combinations for new spells, Lennus is a VERY possible target for me in my line up of pre/sequel type games. It's not just Final Fantasy!
Fomar0153
We have engaged the mafia
13682
I was going to wait until I had more time to dedicate to playing but this really detailed review has convinced me to get it now. Downloading currently.

Like I said before the game looks greats.
Frogge
"nothing can beat the power of gay"?
14509
This is my second time reading this review now and I'm mad no one is showing appreciation to the ''BUT WHO WAS PHONE?!'' joke and I can't resist the urge to do it now.

Thank you for that joke, unity, you are wonderful.

(Oh, the rest of the review is really good too)
Also, I should say that unity is the first person to notice my A Very Long Rope reference, and she got super bonus points for that.
Frogge
"nothing can beat the power of gay"?
14509
Yet another set of bonus points for having good husbando taste

Punch is an adorable darling
unity
You're magical to me.
11162
author=Frogge
This is my second time reading this review now and I'm mad no one is showing appreciation to the ''BUT WHO WAS PHONE?!'' joke and I can't resist the urge to do it now.

Thank you for that joke, unity, you are wonderful.

(Oh, the rest of the review is really good too)


author=Frogge
Yet another set of bonus points for having good husbando taste

Punch is an adorable darling


Hehe, thanks! ^_^

author=Housekeeping
Also, I should say that unity is the first person to notice my A Very Long Rope reference, and she got super bonus points for that.


Yay! My heart melted when I noticed them. <3
Cap_H
DIGITAL IDENTITY CRISIS
6428
This is a great review, unity. It made me even more hyped about Jimmy and I love how you have valid reasons for liking the game. It has a great informative value, a fair bit of analysis and even some critical thinking.
unity
You're magical to me.
11162
Thanks very much! :DDDD I'm so happy to see this game get so much attention ^_^
I came across some of unity's posts on RMN/here and thought that dragon avatar looked pretty cool, but I had no idea it came from this game until now.

That's cool, I really really like your artwork Housekeeping. There is a lot of creativity in your art.
Pages: 1