Retro 2D platformers may be a dime a dozen these days, but that makes it even harder for one of the blocky jump, shoot, and run games to rise up and be noticed. Jumpman certainly achieves that goal with a Atari 2600 aesthetic, near infinite replayability, and the incorporation of an intriguing minor twist--the capability to rotate the board (on certain levels).
Your lives are unlimited, and bountiful in-game options let you customize your controls and color settings. Your goal consists of guiding your pixelated, E.T.-style hero--Jumpman-- from his entry point to the "Exit" sign in a seemingly endless number of levels. The levels consist mostly of platforms (visible and not), traps like lava walls, and a variety of beasties that kill and tools that assist Jumpman along the way. Your next level in the "path" is displayed behind your current adventure, creating a cool 3D effect.
It will take a little time to adjust to the gameplay, as Jumpman slides quite a bit, and rotating the board takes some practice, but seasoned platformers should quickly cruise through the first eight paths (about 90 levels or so). Then Jumpman starts to change color and the boards take on a whole new dimension. Experienced gamers should be able to finish the entire game in an hour or two.
Consistently surprising and entertaining, Jumpman saves your progress through the game and also provides a level editor for creating your own fun. It's certainly one of the best free platformer games of 2009.