Archives by Day

December 2023

Jackass: The Game

Platform(s): Nintendo DS, PSP, PlayStation 2
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Red Mile
Developer: Sidhe Interactive


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PSP Review - 'Jackass: The Game'

by Erik "NekoIncardine" Ottosen on Oct. 22, 2007 @ 1:39 a.m. PDT

Jackass the Game is a mission-based action adventure game inspired by the popular MTV television series and MTV Films Jackass and Jackass Number Two. For the first time ever on a videogame system, Jackass the Game will give players the ability to take on the roles of Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and many others from the Jackass gang as they virtually maneuver through the types of off-the-wall madness and stunts that fans have previously only been accustomed to watching on their televisions and movie screens.

Genre: Party/Mini-games
Publisher: Red Mile Entertainment
Developer: Sidhe Interactive
Release Date: September 27, 2007

Before continuing to read this review, please ask yourself three questions. First, have you watched either or both "Jackass" movies, or a significant portion of the TV show? Second, have you ever wanted to do any of the stupid stunts they perform in the show, in spite of the now-trademarked warning messages? Third, do you like mini-game collections if the mini-games are done well? If you answered "Yes" or "I am intrigued by this" to all three questions, then keep reading. Otherwise, you can skip out on Jackass: The Game and still be a cool or interesting person. Just be aware that you're going to be missing out on a reasonably good licensed title.

For those of you who don't know what "Jackass" is, the best advice I can give you is to hit Netflix or a rental store and rent the two movies, preferably the unrated versions. Basically, "Jackass" is a reality TV stunt show where a crew of performers of varied character — including Jason "Wee-Man" Acuña, Johnny Knoxville, skater Bam Margera and his Camp Kill Yourself crew and Bam's parents — perform dangerous, sick or just plain weird stunts.

Each episode begins with a warning message along the lines of, "The stunts in this show/movie/game were performed by professionals, so neither you nor your dumb buddies should attempt anything from this show/movie/game." The original TV show was infamously censored at the behest of Senator Joe Lieberman, which led to its cancellation after the third season. They decided to end the series on a high note with "Jackass: The Movie," and the stunts have repeatedly shown up since in similar shows, like "Viva la Bam." To say that "Jackass" was — and is — big is an understatement; it's perhaps MTV's most popular show ever.

Jackass: The Game has been in development for a while; in the commentary for the second "Jackass" movie, it's mentioned that one of the tamer pranks immediately followed the shooting of a promo for the game. Several members of the Jackass crew were involved, providing ideas for many of the 35 stunts, many united only by the theme that even the questionably sane "Jackass" crew would not dare try them in real life. Each in-game stunt follows the style of a scene from the TV series almost perfectly, starting off with the character introducing himself by saying his name, saying the stunt's name, and then proceeding to attempt said stunt. Interestingly, however, the game's stunts are relatively tame compared to the movie, typically favoring violence or "extreme sports" over some of the most disgusting and puke-worthy pranks and stunts. Many of the cast from the movies and TV show return as playable characters to help the game feel like a series of really painful vignettes.

The basic format of the game is as simple as can be. Five mini-games are presented in a menu. Pick one, and you will be given either a set of scores to beat in that game, or five more specific goals, which usually involve wrecking things or inflicting a minimum or maximum amount of injury to yourself, though objectives quickly get surprisingly creative over time. Complete all five games satisfactorily, and you'll get a cut scene introducing a new character to the game, and a new set of five more games. There is a nominal storyline — after a prank results in the show's director getting a hospital stay, you, a random drunk guy, are selected to replace the director for the new season — but it really won't matter except that it decides when and how people are unlocked. With one notable exception, every character you unlock has multiple unlockable outfits; you gain new outfits by completing objectives, and you can change into new outfits for every mini-game. The one exception is Wee Man, who only shows up in special "Wee Games," such as juggling with lit dynamite sticks thrown in at random, or stabbing a table around your selected Jackass' spread-out hand.

There is quite the pile of video game parodies in Jackass' 40 missions. About the only way to render the infamous "Party Boy" sketches (in which a character randomly strips to a tiny thong and starts dancing in very public places) in the games was to endure a ghetto version of Dance Dance Revolution and "Snow Job," in which you are stuffed into a giant snowball and rolled down a mountain — basically Katamari Damacy with a different control scheme.

Two things make Jackass: The Game significantly different from other mini-game collection titles, outside of its obvious theme of self-destruction. First off, you're encouraged to save replays of your games and then use the included "Director Mode" to piece these segments into pretty accurate simulations of a TV show episode. Secondly, I don't see many PSP titles, let alone a mini-game collection, take advantage of the Infrastructure system as Jackass does. Not only can you put up replays or collected episodes for people to view, but Red Mile has also promised and provided support for downloadable stunts and costumes to add after the fact.

Jackass' mini-games usually offer the ability to "bail out" of the stunt by pressing the Triangle button. After doing so, the resulting injuries are carefully recorded, and the monetary costs of fixing the character are totaled. ("Broken neck" comes up just often enough in the list of injuries to demonstrate that no one should try any of this in real life.) Not only is this quite entertaining to watch (if a bit morbid), but several mini-games also feature challenges based on this, such as, "Bail out but suffer less than $10,000 in injuries." It's much harder than it sounds.

Surprisingly, the format and games both work exceptionally well. Gameplay is consistently humorous in the gross-out sense that made Conker's Bad Fur Day popular, and mini-games are well designed and implemented, even if some are going to be immensely replayable while others will only be played a couple of times by any one person. The game takes advantage of the characters' abilities to perform stunts where death is a very real possibility (jumping off a 2,000-foot building into elephant crap), or where liability or feasibility concerns can render the stunts impossible in the real world (jumping on cop cars to break the lights atop, finding enough crap to fill a pool, and then finding someone willing to swim in it). Repeats do occur of some of the best games (urban wakeboarding, where you ride on a trash can lid while dragged by a truck at high speeds shows up three times), but varied objectives keep things interesting.

Graphically, Jackass: The Game manages to pull off a level of realism just short of the "uncanny valley," looking like many mid-grade PlayStation 2 or Xbox video titles. Character models look realistic enough that they're easily identifiable as their real-world counterparts, but they never look so realistic as to creep you out. More impressively, this quality is pulled off on the PSP with short load times; the average mini-game takes about eight seconds to load, and a sketch of the stunt turns this load time into an advantage, visually explaining the stunt to help you figure out what you're supposed to do. If this title was ported down from the PlayStation 2, it's hard to tell with the quality level that it attains. Unfortunately, the CGI sequences don't exactly show off top-tier stuff and manage to look far uglier than the in-game graphics.

Sound is very solid by PSP standards, with the "Jackass" crew members providing all of their own voices — including some highly entertaining anguished screams — and plenty of solid-sounding background noise, matched to a soundtrack that would be perfectly at home if paired with the actual TV show. Shopping carts sound like shopping carts; this is more significant than it sounds. Red Mile clearly spent time on recording things to sound their best.

Jackass' biggest flaw, besides consistent use of CGI when they had the actors and could easily have live-recorded the plot scenes that occur between episodes is its length, or lack thereof. Forty stunts (with several repeats) simply do not offer enough variety, enough versions of classic sequences, or enough length for the game to last an obsessed player for more than a weekend, and a casual player about a week. Challenge mode offers some replayability, and I'm sure the downloadable stunts will add some after-the-fact length, but the game itself won't last long in a gamer's hands, rendering even this pretty high-quality effort not worth the $30 asking price, especially when compared to some of the more epic and massive projects hitting the tiny portable this season.

Don't come to Jackass: The Game for the PSP expecting epic, nigh-artwork quality work. This isn't a Kojima Productions work; this is a video game that tries — and admirably succeeds — at being, well, "Jackass," low entertainment at its lowest. Forty mini-games are not going to last too long, but the difficult challenges, consistent design and hilariously sick scenarios make it last just long enough to be worth borrowing from your friend for a couple of weeks if you like the "Jackass" style of humor, or renting from your local games shop. This isn't going to attract new fans, but it is going to be eaten up by existing fans, and it's exactly the sort of game that feels just right on the PSP, best enjoyed in short bursts when you have 10 minutes to kill.

Score: 7.0/10

More articles about Jackass: The Game
blog comments powered by Disqus