An absolute staple of early 2000s MTV, Jackass has had a longer lifetime than even its creators would have predicted. Initially aired in October 2000, the Jackass TV show pushed the boundaries of late-night TV with its range of dangerous, disgusting, impressive, terrifying, and hilarious stunts. With three MTV seasons, and multiple movie projects under its belt, Jackass has cemented itself as one of the most influential stunt shows of all time. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for its presence in the video game world.
Releasing in 2007, Jackass: The Game arrived on PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable at an awkward time. While the second Jackass movie had only released a year prior, the popularity of the series was certainly nowhere near its peak, and the platforms the game chose to release on weren’t exactly the best around at the time, with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 having been around for a year. It also didn’t help that the Jackass game was bad, very bad.
What Is Jackass: The Game?
Jackass: The Game is essentially just one big mini-game collection. Players assume the role of a director, who’s just been called in to cover series staple Jeff Tremaine, who has just been hospitalized due to the Jackass crews’ stunts. The player’s task is simple, complete each of the game’s 40 mini-games, achieve specific objectives in each one, and gather enough footage to be used for a new Jackass series.
While the game does have 40 mini-games to choose from, the variation between them is pretty minimal, with many boiling down to a slalom-like game that tasks the player with riding down a hill, gaining speed, and smashing into an object with enough force to earn a high score multiplier, much like Saint’s Row’s “Insurance Fraud” missions. Some of the series’ most well-known stunts are featured in the game, having a mini-game that dumbs the stunt down to just one or two button presses.
Although some mini-games do offer some ridiculous and outlandish challenges, with some pretty absurd rag doll animations, Jackass: The Game features very little gameplay, and can be 100% completed within just a few hours. For every “Suburban Wakeboarding” mini-game that lets players surf the picket fences of a suburban street, there’s an “Extreme Juggling” mini-game, which simply tasks players with juggling balls in an alleyway.
One big upside to Jackass: The Game, however, is that most of the original crew lent their voices, and even some motion capture performances to the game. So although most of the mini-games are fairly dull and non-responsive, at least players can hear the voices of Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O in their ears as they mash the controller.
How Jackass: The Game Reviewed
Upon its release in 2007, Jackass: The Game was met with middling reviews, with most critics scoring it at around a 5-6/10. Many outlets cited the game’s presentation as both a positive and a negative, stating that the presence of most of the original cast did massively help to make the game feel authentic, though the game’s overall visual style let it down.
The gameplay also had a similar level of divisiveness, with some stunts being praised for their authenticity and humor, while others were criticized for their lack of creativity and their dull gameplay loop. The controls of Jackass: The Game were also largely criticized, with many finding the games slalom missions fine to control, but every other mini-game feeling clunky and unintuitive. In a year that had monumental releases like Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfarethere simply wasn’t a place for a low-budget mini-game collection, touting a brand that the mainstream had largely forgotten about.
The 2008 Nintendo DS Spin-Off
Just a few months later, in January of 2008, Jackass: The Game would come to Nintendo DS, but it looked a little different to its console counterpart. Where Jackass: The Game on PlayStation 2 and PSP, developed by Red Mile Entertainment, was a mini-game collection, the DS version was pretty ambitious open-world 3D game.
Developed by a completely different studio (Sensory Sweep Studios), Jackass: The Game on DS tried to do a lot more than its console predecessor, but missed the landing even more spectacularly. The DS game used a more comic-book art-style to get around the console’s hardware limitations, which led to the Jackass cast looking a little odd and unrecognizable in some cases. There’s also no voice-work in the game, so although players are being presented with characters they’re meant to know, it doesn’t feel quite right, as they don’t look or sound like they should, leading the game to feel quite lifeless.
The lifeless nature of the game also extends to the environments. Open-world games on the Nintendo DS were few and far between, simply due to the hardware limitations of the handheld. Although some titles managed the impressive feat, even the best of them tended to feel a little off compared to the open-worlds that were being produced on consoles at the time. Jackass: The Game on DS was no different, with its impressively large open city environments feeling completely lifeless due to a lack of NPCs or real-life elements.
The general gameplay loop of Jackass: The Game on DS was actually commended by critics for trying something interesting, with the game essentially being a Tony Hawk-inspired game in which players created their own member of the Jackass Crew, roamed around an open environment in a vehicle or on foot, and flung themselves off buildings and into various hazards to rack up the points. Little icons around the map that unlock new outfits can be ran into, though the object detection system is extremely buggy, which can lead to a great deal of frustration.
In the end, Jackass: The Game on Nintendo DS was heavily criticized by reviewers, with the game’s ambition being commendable, but ultimately the reason behind the game’s downfall. Jackass on DS scored even lower than its PlayStation 2 and PSP cousins, averaging around a 35 on Metacritic.
Jackass: The Game is available on PSP, PS2, and Nintendo DS.
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