Jack Move review: a bite-sized JRPG that blends Neuromancer with Final Fantasy VII

It can’t be a coincidence that 1997 is a pivotal 12 months on the earth of Jack Transfer. Within the sport, it is the 12 months the whole lot went darkish on this turn-based Japanese-style RPG, with a photo voltaic storm biffing the world’s electronics. It threw the world into chaos, giving rise to the megacorps that now management the dystopian cyberpunk society the place our heroine Noa is making an attempt to make a residing. In the true world, after all, 1997 was the 12 months Ultimate Fantasy VII got here out, the seminal JRPG that Jack Transfer owes a fantastic deal to (proper all the way down to its menu plink plink sound). Builders So Romantic have stated outright that it has been one of many most important inspirations for Jack Transfer, and its shady company powers and grungy city panorama definitely really feel of a chunk with ShinRa’s grip on the town of Midgar.

However the bigwigs at MonoMind aren’t out to poison the world and suck the life from it in Jack Transfer. As an alternative, they’re extra involved with utilizing their newfound technological powers to seek out everlasting life – a traditional ‘add your thoughts to the metaverse’ form of story you will most likely recognise if you happen to’ve learn any of the cyberpunk 101 novels reminiscent of William Gibson’s Neuromancer or Permutation Metropolis by Greg Egan. Jack Transfer’s story would not tread any new floor on this respect, however Noa and her hacker pal Ryder are a fiery spirited pair that make this six-hour story of espionage and rise up towards its cartoonish villain effectively price dipping into. Sure, you learn that appropriately. A JRPG you’ll be able to polish off in a single day of play. Bliss.

Apart from its manageable size, the opposite ace Jack Transfer has up its sleeve is its absorbing battle system. Whereas the majority of the sport provides you a top-down view of Noa’s hometown, battles happen over the shoulder in a form of Tron-like digital realm for some fashionable ‘cyber clashes’. I assume the concept is that Noa’s foes are technically making an attempt to hack her mind (the sport by no means actually does clarify itself very effectively on this entrance), as you do not ever see most of them on the earth round you. Relatively, the Yu-Gi-Oh-esque our on-line world deck Noa carries round on her arm has a menace stage meter that, when full, means enemies can assault you at any time. Random encounters by one other title, in different phrases.

Nevertheless it is dressed up, although, it works, with splendidly detailed battle animations bringing an additional layer of visible relish. Tech heads will little question admire all of the {hardware} references peppered by the remainder of its menus, too. Melee assaults are known as ‘hacks’, for instance, whereas your particular talents are all bits of ‘software program’ you will must ‘execute’ utilizing your obtainable ‘information’ (or magic factors, if you happen to’re after a extra conventional reference). These software program modules fall into cyberware, electroware and wetware assaults, that are all ruled by a easy rock paper scissors system. In a very cute nod, ‘patching’ additionally lets you use objects reminiscent of therapeutic packs, and you may ‘cache’ a flip to delay it till later within the flip order, giving your self a pleasant little defence enhance whilst you wait.

A young girl enters a rundown slum area in Jack Move

To be truthful, Jack Transfer has attractive presentation all through, with dense pixel artwork drawing the attention in all instructions as Noa wanders the town, however the flowing class of its battle sprites are what actually impress given the tiny measurement of the studio.

The extra you assault, the extra you construct up your titular Jack Transfer meter as effectively, which helps you to dole out devastating Restrict Break-style specials to the whole lot onscreen. These are pure Ultimate Fantasy, proper all the way down to the three little QTE button prompts you will must carry out to find out the general energy of the assault, and very similar to stated Ultimate Fantasy video games, they create a welcome sense of rhythm and aptitude to the general stream of fight. Mixed with its fluid battle animations and detailed spritework, these cyber clashes are simply good, quaint enjoyable. They tick all the proper packing containers in my JRPG mind, and I seemed ahead to each scrap.

The tech chat extends to the remainder of Jack Transfer’s underlying programs as effectively, as you solely have a restricted quantity of RAM (i.e: slots) to put in your software program assaults in, for instance (assume Resident Evil stock Tetris meets Pokémon’s four-way moveset), and also you even have a devoted {Hardware} menu for equipping three additional ‘growth’ talents. These vary from particular stat buffs and supplying you with scanning or counterattack choices, and you may even use them to quickly improve your variety of obtainable RAM slots (which you’ll be able to improve completely if you happen to stump up the money for them).

A young girl fights two goons and a mecha man in Jack Move.

A young girl fights two soliders and a scientist on a purple space hopper in Jack Move.

A young girl battles three strange creatures in a green virtual reality environment in Jack Move.

You’ll be able to scan enemies to seek out their weaknesses, however their color palette additionally provides away refined clues if you wish to begin battles on the offensive.

As somebody who loved all of the techno babble in final 12 months’s Narita Boy, I obtained an actual kick out of all this, however I may also think about those that are much less tech savvy being utterly bewildered by it. That, or discovering it fairly twee. For me, although, I fairly appreciated these cyberpunk riffs in your typical JRPG framework, as they not solely give it a way of character, however in addition they make the whole lot really feel grounded within the wider world of the sport.

The most effective twist it brings to the Ultimate Fantasy playbook, nevertheless, can also be sadly its most woefully underused. Your RAM slots might restrict the quantity, kind and breadth of assaults you are in a position to carry into fight, for instance, however you may as well decide to surrender your flip to ‘set up’ different bits of software program, successfully permitting you to modify up your battle technique on the fly. That is such a neat thought, doubtlessly paving the best way for tough, mercurial boss battles that carry the total pressure of Jack Transfer’s means set to bear, however the sport’s over-reliance on its primary rock-paper-scissors system meant I by no means actually felt the necessity to change up my technique. Stability points will be the bug within the system right here, as I breezed by a whole lot of the sport with essentially the most primary types of its three software program specials, solely switching as much as the second tier (of three) about two thirds of the best way by – lengthy after I would met the extent gate requirement. On the plus aspect, I did not must do any grinding throughout my playthrough -except once I finally met the ultimate boss, which had such a pointy problem spike that ended up taking me effectively over an hour (and failed a number of makes an attempt) to really take down.

Two girls have a conversation in a nice urban neighbourhood in Jack Move.

Gee, thanks, Sapph1re, do not maintain again…

It is a disgrace Jack Transfer would not make higher use of its RAM swaps, but additionally fully comprehensible given the scale and scope of the studio. This has largely been a solo endeavour for lead developer Edd Parris through the years, and what’s right here continues to be an admirable achievement given its excessive stage of polish. I simply hope So Romantic get to construct on these concepts sooner or later, as Jack Transfer appears like the beginning of one thing particular – and positively a minimize above lots of the different Japanese-style RPG pretenders I’ve endured through the years as effectively. I would like to see what it seems like with a little bit of stability tuning, nevertheless it’s nonetheless price a glance regardless, particularly when there is a free demo on you’ll be able to attempt on Steam. If you happen to’re searching for a small Ultimate Fantasy VII-style repair that can whisk you again to 1997 once more earlier than Disaster Core – Ultimate Fantasy VII – Reunion comes out later this 12 months, Jack Transfer ought to slot into your gaming library very properly certainly.

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