Que Theme Music

One would expect a Jackass game to involve running around and doing crazy stunts at your leisure, rather than a collection of minigames.  If you can’t sense my disappointment, it looks like the dev team decided to go with the later.  Despite this apparent lapse in genre assignment, I can’t fault them for using the license to its potential.  Steve-O, Ehren McGhenhey, Ryan Dunn, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Dave England, Jeff Tremaine, and the one and only Johnny Knoxville each contribute their vocal cords and likeness to the game’s collection of epic tomfoolery.

The bulk of Jackass is spread out over a seven episode story mode.  Under the premise of filming a new season of the show, you’ll need to complete five stunts for each episode.  Within each stunt are five goals, three of which must be completed in order to pass the stunt and work your way toward completing an episode.  About three stunts in I realized not every goal has to be acquired during each individual stunt; they can be spread out and completed one at a time.  In the San Francisco trash can downhill, for example, I can win the race to complete a goal on one attempt, and destroy a fire hydrant or skid my character out of his trashcan on another. 

While the game boasts at least thirty five stunts, less than half of them are entirely unique.  The DDR style button input sequences are the only true repeat offender, as the styles of other minigames aren’t copied more than twice.  Thankfully, at least 80% of them are genuinely fun to play.  Some traditional minigames are here, such as wack-a-mole v.Weeman, but a few relatively new ideas do pop up.  Anything involving golfing with a grenade or skiing on a trashcan lid from the back of a pickup truck is a blast – until you complete all of the objectives.  On their own few of the stunts add up to any long term enjoyment, but, as the sum of their parts, they are a blast their first time around.  Completing a stunt in story mode makes the same stunt available in challenge mode, which features new (and much harder) goals for each individual stunt.

More often than not, some of the entries in minigame collection are rendered completely broken by poor controls.  A couple of stunts, like suburban catapult or extreme unicycling, benefit from controls that are not only easy to pick up and play, but precise in their cause; everything works as it should and doesn’t hinder any of your objectives.  Others, such as anything with a rolling human-hamster ball or golf cart, fall victim to their limitations, and are more frustrating than fun.  Then there’s fridge racer, which features a downhill sledding competition with the sleds actually being refrigerators.  This handles exactly like trying to ride a refrigerator down a mountain, meaning you have almost zero control.  If this was by design then its genius, but all likelihood points toward sloppy controls.

What ground Jackass fails to break in the gameplay department is bulldozed by its context.  Literally every gameplay mechanic has been done better somewhere else; however, none have been done in such an absurd and satisfying fashion.  Have you ever guarded yourself from flying crap with an umbrella?  Thrown a human down a hill and guided him around/into obstacles, ala pachinko?  Done the knife/hand outline superfast stab thing Bishop does in Aliens?  No?  Well, you’ll be doing all of that and much, much more in Jackass.  Prudes may sigh in disgust and assume this game is another step in our path toward real-life Idiocracy, but there’s no denying the primal level of humor.

Ow My Balls

And it’s definitely the same style of humor the series is known for displaying.  Each stunt is introduced with the usual combination of regret and anticipation often present in the show.  Again, like the show, it’s also not uncommon for each cast member to punctuate an intro by deliver a swift kick in the nuts to one of their fellow members, which is usually followed by a semi-hilarious outburst of profanity.  This brotherly sabotage works well in the context of real life, but feels fabricated when on display in the game.  While the stunt intros are a downer, the cg movies in between episodes are completely over the top with hilarity.  Steve-O’s overdose and red carpet helicopter puke are particularly inspired.

The audio and visual package is remarkably intact.  Each member provides full voice work, with Pontius, Knoxville, and Steve-O contributing most of the one liners.  The audio package is not unlike the tunes that adorn the show and feature films.  The standard Jackass theme music is complimented by songs from The Misfits, Nashville Pussy, Skinny Puppy, The Vandals, and other similar acts.  The characters models are mostly hits with few misses.  England’s resemblance is uncanny, and Steve-O is point for point right down to the huge tattoo of his face on his back.  Only Weeman, whose face is mangled beyond belief, is the unfortunate victim of poor digital translation.  The environments usually aren’t too expansive, but are rendered in a way that gives the illusion of distance.  It’s competently designed, for sure, but each section is a fairly small playing field when you think about it.

There’s a decent helping of extras to round out the package.  For starters, there’s a surprisingly deep director mode.  Using saved replays; you can cut and splice your stunt together from different angles and approaches at varying speeds, just like a real director would for a real Jackass stunt montage.  You can even string multiple stunts into a full episode, provided you have the willpower.  It’s fun if you can get into it and it adds a layer to the story, but it’s overly pointless in the end.  For some reason there’s a puppeteer mode, which looks to be nothing more than messing with the facial gestures of the cast, it’s kind of fun and I’m glad developers are including random stuff like this.  Lastly there’s an option to download new stunts, which I couldn’t get to work so I’m not sure if those exist yet.  An ad-hoc multiplayer mode is present as well, though it inherents all of the main game’s hit or miss control issues.

Eric Layman is available to resolve all perceived conflicts by 1v1'ing in Virtual On through the Sega Saturn's state-of-the-art NetLink modem.