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Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass 2 and Knuckles: Expansion Pack (comes with 100 free loot crates!) SPECIAL EDITION (ON SALE) (Steam)

JIMMY AND THE PULSATING MASS: REVIEW


Introduction

Some time about two years ago, I discovered this community and how it's made some wonderful things. My first RPG Maker game I ever played was Sgt M's Soma Spirits, and since playing that and loving it I've been actively making games. The RPG Maker community as a whole is definitely a lot smaller than communities surrounding other game creation software like GameMaker Studio or Unreal Engine, but there's something very nice about a small community like this.

Anyway, one day I was browsing the site and saw this image of this character's head with the words "FRESH" written right below. Curious, and finding it slightly hilarious, I decided to look at the game it was from, and I found out it was called "Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass".

I'll admit: I was curious from the very beginning, and I decided to give the demo a try. However with a combination of a terrible-running computer and other life issues, I was unable to finish the demo.

For a while, I forgot about the game. And then one day, while browsing YouTube, I found a channel called Nitro Rad, which specialized in reviews of RPG Maker games like OFF, Yume Nikki, and other classics. I decided to look more into his content and found out that he made a video on the demo of that game I briefly remembered, called Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass.

I watched the video and immediately fell in love with the Earthbound-style graphics, the upbeat and sometimes terrifying soundtrack (I mean, come on, you can't help but simultaneously groove to and be terrified of A Cocoon Throbbing in a Dead Man's Mouth.) and it's amazing mechanic revolving around switching between forms, giving me a very Persona-esque vibe.

I began to follow development of Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass. Every new screenshot, every new piece of media surrounding the game I loved to bits.

And now, the game is out! After sinking in over 30 hours into Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass, I'm here to give my honest review.


Gameplay

Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass is an RPG, through and through. You've got your classic turn-based battles, overworld encounters, constantly switching equipment, etcetera. However, Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass has something that sets it apart from it's inspiration (mainly Earthbound). This comes in the form of the Imagination system.

Jimmy is an empathetic boy, and being so allows him to understand how many of the different entities you meet on your journey feel and how they live their lives. After defeating certain bosses, Jimmy will experience a short vision, detailing a life in the world of the monster he just defeated. After this, he will gain that monster as an additional form that can be switched out at will.

Each different form you gain has it's own benefits. You've got the Revolting Blob, a monster so universally disgusting it can make enemies attracted to attack it and also take damage that other characters would take. Then there's the Low-level Goon and the Grumbling Bear, which are both physical powerhouses, allowing you to pull off powerful physical attacks. On the flipside of that, we have the Rotting Jack-o-Lantern and the Vampire, which are magic-oriented characters, respectively. Others like the Bird and the Flower are good for assistive abilities like lowering enemy stats, and healing the party.

A neat little side thing that I enjoyed was the Clubhouse. You can collect furniture pieces on your journey, and by equipping them in the clubhouse you can add boosts and bonuses to your stats, as well as listen to lots of the music in the game.

One really interesting thing about this game's battle system is that you don't gain new skills upon levelling up like in other RPGs. In Jimmy, each form has four skills that are usually exclusive to that form. However, by levelling up the different monsters (you can do that, they have a level separate to Jimmy's) you can equip certain skills from those monsters on to Jimmy's main form.


My favorite form by far was the Jack-o-Lantern. How can you resist that smile?

However, while the game's Imagination system is really cool, there was one part of the gameplay I hated.

THE DIFFICULTY.

Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass is quite possibly one of the most difficult games I've played all year. Unlike in most RPGs where skills do a base damage with some sort of multiplication by a Magic stat or Attack stat, in Jimmy, skills do %-based calculations. Instead of a skill doing, say, 100 base damage + 150% Magic stat, a skill would do 250% Magical damage, meaning the damage it would do would be equal to a 100% magical attack multiplied by 2.5. And every skill in the game is like this. And I don't like it.

This means even bosses use these skills, and usually, this means they have a higher chance to instantly kill a party member than ever before. Too many times did I have to hack in a level adjuster just so I didn't have to grind to beat a boss in an area. My opinion on grinding is that the strength of a boss should be equal to the strength of a normal player going through the dungeon at a leisurely pace and not relying on going out of their way to battle extra so they could get more EXP. Not to mention bosses will sometimes have side-monsters that could give the main unit a reflect magic status, or something like that, and usually there's multiple of them, and they're hard to kill. Not saying anything because spoilers, but if you've beaten the game then you KNOW which boss I mean. So yeah. This game is hard. Crazy hard. Insanely hard. Even for someone who likes a good challenge, if you're looking for a nice, battle-easy game to play and enjoy the story of, Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass might not be for you.

That isn't to say the story isn't great, though. It's amazing.



Story

Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass has a great story. It begins with Helga, the mother of the family, telling Jimmy and his muscle-man brother Buck to go to the Giant Garden's Buddy Bee Hive and collect honey for a picnic. The two embark on their journey and soon find that the hive has been jeopardized. The bees are dead, and the Queen seems to be far inside. As you explore the hive, you discover the countless carcasses of the bees, and eventually, the Queen Bee. The Queen Bee rambles about how and why she hates Jimmy before treating you to the first hard boss fight in the game, and, in my opinion, still one of the most terrifying. After beating the Queen Bee and getting the honey, Jimmy and Buck return home to find the family being abducted by lasers and sent aboard the Iron Flamingo, an airship piloted by a lunatic dog who rambles on about two things: the end of the world, and the Pulsating Mass.

The journey of the game will take you to many different locations: the calm and peaceful Homeflower, the upbeat and royal Sweet Melody, the terrifying and sinister Grim Echoes, the blocky and retro Everchip, the logical and complicated Secret Meridian, and the populated city of Megatropolis. Each area has it's own theme, battle song, and battle background, and each one is a blast to play through! (Except Grim Echoes. Didn't really like that one.)

But by far the most important area in the game is the Central Hub. Near the end of the story, the Central Hub changes greatly and locks up, requiring Jimmy to seek out the six Nexus Points. These are the "Seven Needles" or "Eight Melodies" of Jimmy, and you'll be searching all over the world for them. Each time you find one, you're treated to a vision Jimmy has, each one cluing you in to the true nature of the world Jimmy's in. As made clear on the Steam page and RPGMaker.net page, Jimmy is dreaming. This is the dream world. But there's something very off about this dream, and the player gets to slowly figure out just what that is. (More information in the "Ending" section at the bottom of the page.)

The characters in Jimmy are definitely one of the strong points of the game. Each main character is developed greatly and you slowly come to learn more about them and what they desire. Helga is the mother of Jimmy and Buck, the sweet, lovable mother who's always supportive. Andrew is the logical and smart father, always reading and expanding his insanely huge knowledge. Buck is the tough brother who's always working out and getting tougher, though he does indeed have a softer side that's explored, and Lars is the lazy uncle who lives with the family after their Grandmother's death.

And don't forget about the non-family characters like Punch Tanaka, the coolest, raddest dude in the history of them vidya gamez! There's Hitomi, the high-schooler-by-day and moon-warrior-by-night magical girl, and there's Jonathon Bear, the huggable mascot character (whom I hate). Each character, even the side ones, have so much development it's a lot to take in. This game's story is fantastic.


Presentation

GODDAMN THIS GAME LOOKS GREAT

The Presentation of the game is by FAR my favorite part. Congrats to Kasey Ozymy for somehow making the Earthbound-style cute graphics terrifying!

The graphics go for an Earthbound-ish, simple style. Apparently this was done so that the graphic production wouldn't slow down the game's development, which is a really neat little idea. Each graphic, whether it be cute, detailed or downright horrifying, has this sort-of POP to it that, while it's simple, makes it impossible to look away.

The soundtrack, however, is the opposite of simple. Each song is unique and great, with a huge contrast between each song. You've got those sick scratchy battle themes for Homeflower, and that chiptune aesthetic for all of the Everchip themes, and everything in between! My favorite tracks were Battle in the Fire Tornado and Beat Squad, the battle themes for Everchip and Megatropolis, respectively.

The battle backgrounds were also really neat. Instead of a static image or color, the battle backgrounds are these scrolling, animated symbols, each changing depending on what island you're on. Homeflower has clouds, Sweet Melody has fruits, Everchip has blocky patterns, Sweet Melody has shapes, and Megatropolis has those classic WiFi symbols! And don't forget that skull background that's consistently popping up throughout the game during it's terrifying moments!

However, I do have a few things to nitpick about, mostly in terms of graphics.
This game sometimes suffers from inconsistent pixel sizing, mostly with the windowskin and Font choice. While the tilesets and character graphics are all upscaled to 2x to drive home that Earthbound style, the windowskin and Font are both 1x, meaning that they're a lot smaller. The best example in the game I could think of to demonstrate this concept is the airship. At some point in the game you get an airship to fly around the world as you like, and while the airship's pixels are clearly visible, the shadow is 1x pixel-sized.



I know it's a very minor nitpick, and it didn't drastically affect the outcome of my experience with the game, but I feel if you're gonna do a 2x pixel aesthetic, then you should go all the way with it.

Lastly, I want to talk about the ending, however I will be spoiling it, so if you plan to play the game, DO NOT SCROLL DOWN.












Ending

After visiting each of the planets near the end of the game, Jimmy and his family return to Earth to find out that the Central Hub has been overtaken by the Pulsating Mass, and the Secret Knowledge is deep inside. After activating the six Nexus Points, Jimmy enters the Mass and is forced to battle against his brother, Buck, for the second time. After removing Buck from the control of the Pulsating Mass, the Mass grabs Helga, Andrew and Lars, leaving Buck and Jimmy to enter the core of the Mass, where they face off against the Pulsating Mass in it's true form. After defeating the mass, the Central Hub is restored to it's original state and the Mass is driven away. The family decides to have that picnic they planned on having at the beginning as you're treated to the credits and you see the dream world living and each of the inhabitants' lives following the defeat of the Pulsating Mass. The family sits down on the ground of the starting area and eats their picnic.

However,

...this isn't the end.

During the quest to gather the Nexus Points, Jimmy sees visions of each of his family members... somewhere else. They're right next to Jimmy, but he can't interact with them and is lying down. As you leave the house after the picnic, it starts to set in what this world was.

Jimmy is dying. He's dying from cancer, and the Pulsating Mass is his tumor. It consumes away at his brain, destroying everything he cared about in himself, and as we leave the house, the world begins to disappear as Jimmy dies before our eyes. The world is now outlined in a pencil-like shape as Jimmy forgets the last things left to forget.



As we walk around this pencil-like area we hear an electrocardiogram beeping in the background, slowly growing quieter and quieter as we move further to the right. And then we reach the area, the same room we began the game in, as Jimmy looks out to the world that no longer lives, and speaks his final words.



And then Jimmy's form and the words fade into a single horizontal line, the same one on the electrocardiogram when Jimmy's heart stops moving, and he dies.

When he apologizes in the ending, I personally believe he's speaking to his family in the real world as they watch their son, their brother, their friend...

...die before their very eyes.


The final screen of the game. Bravo, Kasey. Bravo.


Conclusion

Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass is a tale of sadness. But it's also a tale of happiness, a tale of childlike wonder. Jimmy dreams, and because it's a dream, Jimmy's happy. This world, this dimension he's created is where he can have anything he wants. The Pulsating Mass is the only thing in his way, and it's a hell of a roadblock. I absolutely loved this game from beginning to end, and while it had some rough patches with the difficulty and certain areas, I feel that this game deserves all the attention it can get. That's why my final rating for Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass is a 4.5/5 Star rating. A great game, with minor things that bring it down, but those things are GREATLY outshone by everything this game did right. Congratulations, Kasey Ozymy. You made, in my opinion, a masterpiece.



Now, when's that 100-hour expansion DLC hitting Steam? I'm waiting, Kasey. I'm always waiting.

Posts

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Hey, Starspire, thanks so much for the review! I'm glad you enjoyed it! 100-hour expansion, eh? I'll just...umm...get right on that...
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
10522
Gosh dangit, all these super positive reviews coming in from people. I knew this game was gonna be good, but I didn't know it would be this well-received. I sincerely hope to all heck that you get all the MONEYS you deserve, Housekeeping. It would be such a loss to have this game underperform sales-wise. Either way, though, it seems you've provided people with great joy even now, and for a game this long, it's such an achievement to know they maximum-enjoyed pretty near every minute of it. Proud of you, Housekeeping.
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