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Video Game / Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley

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An Xbox Live Arcade game by Twisted Pixel.

Meet Captain Smiley. With his super powers, dual laser guns, winning personality, and wisecracking Chest Insignia Star, he's sure to be the next comic book sensation... or he would be, if anyone liked his comic. Once his comic is cancelled, the fine folks at Twisted Pixel offer Captain Smiley a way to revive his series: make guest appearances in various other comics until he's popular enough to get his own back.

Gameplay consists mainly of traditonal side scrolling whilst shooting anything that moves with the usual platforming and some melee thrown in. The standard action is broken up with on-rail third person shooting and quick time events. The game is very much a nod to the old school shooters of the 16-bit era and their harsher difficulty. There are no power-ups to restore health in-between checkpoints but this is offset somewhat by infinite lives.

This work contains examples of:

  • The Ahnold: The title character of Nanoc the Obliviator. It wouldn't be a Conan shout-out without this trope.
  • All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles: Spoofed during Vol. 11 of Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids; the high school's football team is the "Hent High Fighting Tentacles".
  • Animated Actors: Every single character is very cognizant of the fact that they're comic book characters and aren't afraid to break the fourth wall into pieces. About the only characters that don't appear to have any awareness of this are Coco and Nana, the lead characters of Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids.
  • Animesque: Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids, being a very Shallow Parody of shoujo manga.
  • Anti-Hero: Smiley is only concerned with looking good and making money, and shows no genuinely heroic compulsions whatsoever. However his work is ostensibly akin to an acting career rather than an actual life of superheroics, but this doesn't stop him from being a petulant, shallow prima donna.
  • Anti-Villain: Brad. Star really likes him at least.
  • Art Shift: More or less the main gimmick, as each comic has Captain Smiley and Star change their outfit to fit in with the comic.
  • Aside Glance: During the fight Mistress Ropes and a returning Meatenstein, she gives a very frustrated look towards the audience whenever it starts eating itself.
  • BFS: To go along with his very Cloud Strife-esque appearance, Smiley's melee weapon in Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids is pretty much a buster sword with a giant heart at the end of it.
  • Bishie Sparkle and Petal Power: Not seen on-screen, but Brad complains about sparkles and rose petals appearing around him when he's trapped in Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids.
  • Book Ends: The game starts with Smiley trying to foil a bank robbery by Doctor Winklemeyer and getting into a fight with Brad and his army of Bradbots, leading to Smiley getting into a fight with Star and punching him repeatedly, with a cut to several real life people destroying his comic book in disgust, and ending with the Twisted Pixel dev team looking at the comic and getting an idea. It ends with Smiley foiling the bank robbery again, this time killing Winklemeyer before going on a rampage, killing the rest of his rogue's gallery while fighting through an army of Bradbots, leading to Smiley getting into a fight with Star and punching him repeatedly, with a cut to the same real life people now loving Smiley's comic, ending with the Twisted Pixel dev team looking at the comic and nodding in approval while they stand in the middle of a giant pile of money.
  • Buffy Speak: Oh so much.
  • Butt-Monkey: Captain Smiley. At one point it becomes literal.
  • Cain and Abel: Within the world of Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids, Lolo is the Cain to the Abel of her two sisters (and protagonists of the manga) Nana and Coco. Captain Smiley fights her in the first stage but in the last stage, it's Lolo who helps Smiley by fighting her sisters so he can finish off Hehe.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids is chock full of it, naturally.
    "Big Cartoony Heart!"
  • Color Failure: Smiley briefly loses his color when he's damaged, and when his health starts to dip too low, it starts to stay that way.
  • Continuity Nod: The events of Twisted Pixel's previous games are mentioned in universe. There's reference to a series of underground 'splosions believed to be coming from research labs and astronomers discover that several solar systems have disappeared, with only a strange purple substance left behind.
  • The Comics Code: Mocked during Improbable Paper Pals, when Star's cursing is constantly being censored, and you get slapped with a fine whenever you attack a museum guard being controlled by Mistress Ropes. The hypocrisy of the code allowing a deeply racist main character but no swearing is also lampshaded.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids is this to the extreme, to the point where Brad is nearly Driven to Suicide by it.
  • Damsel in Distress: Mocked in Smiley's own comic, when Gerda is tied up in the background and Smiley makes absolutely no attempt to rescue her (which she lampshades). The building explodes just after you leave.
  • Defeat Means Roommates: After you beat a boss, they are forced to move in with Captain Smiley until they get back on their feet. Neither party likes this arrangement.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He isn't deadpan, but Star has quite the razor wit.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The world of Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids is done in screen tones, like a real manga.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: "Improbable Paper Pals," being a parody of Silver Age comics, doesn't shy away from lampooning the racism and sexism of the era's work. Of particular note are Origami Kid, a sidekick who's an offensive stereotype of East Asians, and Straw Feminist villainess Mistress Ropes, whose goals of empowering women are portrayed as evil in and of themselves rather than a corruption of an otherwise decent cause.
  • Downer Ending: Smiley learns that his comic should be more about violence, action and some minor nudity, successfully reboots his comic and wins the approval of the comic reading public, but the developers at Twisted Pixel swindle him out of the profits by contract, his sidekick Gerda resigns in disgust, and his co-workers hate him more than ever.
  • Epic Fail: A particularly gutbusting example is the reason for Smiley's comic readership dropping off.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Star is a total jerk, but even he's offended at the casual racism and misogyny throughout the events of Improbable Paper Pals.
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: Pretty much. Paper planes, puppets, and other improbable things are all trying to kill you. It can feel as though the developers are trying to kill you much of the time.
  • Expy: Brad is a villainous Duke Nukem.
  • Fan Dumb: In universe, when Smiley reads letters from fans at the end of Improbable Paper Pals #77.
  • Fake Difficulty: Many have pointed out that the game seems to be missing health pickups, although infinite lives offset this problem.
    • The RPG mechanic only exists to provide stat upgrades and never adds additional abilities. Later stages are practically impossible without these upgrades, thereby forcing the player to grind the optional missions in order to proceed.
    • The world of Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids is rendered entirely in grayscale. This makes several incoming attacks extremely difficult to see.
  • Fat Bastard: Nanoc really let himself go after Puttmaster kicked him out of his kingdom
  • Femme Fatalons: Mistress Ropes' updated costume sports these, though she never actually gets to use them.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Justified, because Twisted Pixel (the game's developers) paid for the base. Somehow.
  • Gameplay Roulette: It swaps between a few gameplay styles, including scrolling Beat 'em Up, scrolling Shoot 'Em Up and mostly-on-rails Third-Person Shooter.
  • Genius Bruiser: Brad gives every appearance of being a shallow, egotistical Jerk Jock, but apparently he has constructed his own robotic harem of shallow blondes to service him, a high tech battle helicopter and even produced his own theme music. Insipid he might be, but he's certainly not without talents.
  • Genki Girl: Just about every single schoolgirl in Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Benny in Improbable Paper Pals #79, which is even lampshaded by Smiley himself. The giant head that serves as the boss of Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids Vol. 10 also counts.
  • God Guise: There's one based around mini-golf in Nanoc the Obliviator, of which one of Smiley's old foes, the Puttmaster, takes advantage.
  • Guns Akimbo: Whether they're his usual submachine guns, rapid-fire dart guns, Silver Age rayguns or guns that shoot love bullets, Smiley is almost never seen without his trusty guns.
  • Healing Boss: In the final chapter of Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids, the titular cupids of the comic will restore the boss to full health after Captain Smiley gets it low twice.
    Captain Smiley: "Wait a second. Did that little girl just heal him? That is totally cheating!"
  • Hoist By Her Own Petard: Mistress Ropes in the final stage.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Mistress Ropes becomes this when she transitions to the modern era.
  • Hulk Speak: Dr. Winklemeyer.
  • Hypocritical Humor: At the start of the game Smilely shows his disgust at Brad glorifying himself with a theme song stating "they were above that sorta thing". Come the final level however, he showcases his own theme song.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: The Puttmaster, whose entire skillset is based around golf, naturally.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The Captain, right at the beginning in a wonderfully narmy Establishing Character Moment with Gerda at the receiving end.
  • It's All About Me: Captain Smiley. Though at the end of the game, he finally learns that it's not all about him. It's also about explosions. Explosions and trite, poorly timed catch phrases blatantly robbed from films. And bathroom humor. And maybe some exposed female flesh, too. But definitely explosions.
  • Jerkass: Every character to a certain degree, but Star is a particularly standout example. His entire life is apparently spent annoying and undermining Smiley while providing no help at all. He even takes giddy delight when Smiley accidentally murders an innocent old man near the beginning of Nanoc the Obliviator #285.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Zigzagging Trope. During the whole game, Smiley appears as a pure and unadulterated Jerkass, only caring about his image and money. But he's also shown feeling awful about killing an innocent old man and crashing his funeral. He then honest-to-God tries to understand Mistress Ropes and calm her down instead of engaging in combat with her (even if his efforts are ultimately for naught). Finally, there's his relationship with Gerda. It's obvious he doesn't respect her at all, laughing at her when she's about to get blown to smithereens in the bank...but she never tried to earn his respect, mocking and insulting him repeatedly during his missions. Strangely, he genuinely cares about Star when he feigns sickness after beating Brad, even if the guy had zero compunctions relaying loud and clear to Smiley about how much he hates him.
  • Love Bubbles: Smiley's gun fires them throughout the first two issues of Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids, until Brad gives Smiley real bullets.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Winklemeyer, who seems to be less "scientist" and more "mad".
  • Magical Girl: Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids utilizes Magical Girl tropes pretty heavily, including the main characters' mascot animal and Smiley spending most of the stage fighting dark shadowy beings with The Power of Love.
  • Martial Arts and Crafts: Paper Lad and Origami Kid are implied to have these abilities, but we never actually get to see them in action.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Brad builds his own Valley Girl henchmen/groupies, called the Bradbots. Star approves.
    • "You can make them do anything you want! Heh heh!"
  • Money, Dear Boy: Invoked. The entire plot is so Smiley can get his comic back in circulation. Parodied by Twisted Pixel during the live action montage in the end.
  • More Dakka: Smiley's gun fighting method has much more to do with saturation than finesse. In the final stage his default pistols are upgraded into an even more potent form with a three foot long muzzle flare.
  • My Suit Is Also Super: And it comes with a wisecracking face called Star.
  • No Fourth Wall: Most characters know they're in comic books. They often mention 'panels', 'writers' and such. They don't know they're in a game, though Smiley and Star can talk to the developers. You can even call on the developers of Twisted Pixel to help you out in combat, literally Breaking the Fourth Wall in the process.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Apparently Origami Kid was missing this whole time because he was off having wacky time travel-related adventures.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Captain Smiley becomes one in the extra Challenge missions.
  • Only Sane Woman: Gerda and Nordya.
  • The Power of Love: Smiley's guns shoot hearts and bubbles during the first two volumes of Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids. Once Brad hands him some real ammunition, Smiley gets down to brass tacks and gets to killing everything.
  • Precision F-Strike: In contrast to Star spouting off obscenities left and right during the entirety of Improbable Paper Pals, Smiley only swears once, and it's at the very end of Issue 77 as a reasonable response to a particularly long-winded, tiring and obnoxiously in-depth piece of fan mail.
    Smiley: Oh my god... Okay, okay, you know what, Eugene? You're a @$%# nerd!
  • Prop Recycling: Mistress Ropes conjures the final boss of 'Splosion Man out of Captain Smiley's thoughts. As he had recently beaten the game shortly before the events of the story, he just couldn't help but think of Meatenstein and how he managed to beat him on his second try.
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Smiley pays lips service to the cause of heroism, but his first concern is promoting his image and keeping his comic profitable. On the flip side:
  • Punch-Clock Villain: When Smiley's enemies aren't committing crimes, they apparently crash at his secret lair. Smiley's not happy about it, but he treats it more like dealing with an annoying coworker than anything.
  • Purely Aesthetic Era: More like "Purely Aesthetic Comic Book Genre". The gameplay is varied, but what comic genre you're in doesn't seem to make a difference; Smiley still shoots his guns, destroys homing missiles, has projectiles shot/thrown at him, and so on.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: The Bradbots. Well, they're about as "human" as anyone else in the game, anyway.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After facing some pretty humiliating fates during The New Adventures of Captain Smiley, Gerda and Smiley's Rogues Gallery decides that they've finally had enough of their co-actor's showboating and resign from playing in his comic any further.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Normally, Star doesn't adhere to this trope, swearing maybe only a couple of times throughout the game. This trope most certainly applies during Improbable Paper Pals, where Star almost never bothers to tone down his language, leading to the Comics Obscenity Commission to hit the duo with fine after fine (though all of the violence they helped create in Improbable Paper Pals #77 probably did the comic no favors).
  • Smug Super: Smiley himself.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Nanoc's name is a none-too-subtle lawyer-friendly reversal of "Conan".
  • Sexbot: Implied to be part of the Bradbots' function.
  • Shout-Out: It's pretty well established by now that the folks down at Twisted Pixel are huge pop-culture nerds.
    • The "comic jumper" machine is pretty much the time travel device used in Timecop. An unlocked piece of concept art had it being even closer in look.
    • Gauntlet: "Captain needs food badly!"
    • Resident Evil 4: Winklemeyer (in a gruff voice): "What're ya buying?"
    • Total Recall (1990) (1990): Benny. Just...Benny. He's got five kids!
    • Final Fantasy VII: Smiley's design in the Manga world is clearly based on Cloud Strife.
    • According to the interviews on the website, Bottle Fairy was one of the big influences on the "Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids" stage, with its over-the-top cuteness and cheerfulness.
    • The developers lampshade all these shout outs by having Smiley sometimes say, "Pop culture reference goes here!"
    • Several references to Jurassic Park.
      Star: This is all John Hammond's fault!
    • You die like Megaman, while Smiley mocks you for dying 3/4 the time.
    • At the halfway point of The New Adventures of Captain Smiley #00, Smiley chooses a destructor much like Ray Stanz did.
    • There is a very big one to an independent comic called The Maniacal Smile. Besides the fact that the entire first issue is included in the game, the main character from it actually shows up in the base for a short time after the first manga mission. If you talk to him then him and Captain Smiley will argue about their smiler costumes.
    • Smiley refers to the "speed of time travel", 88 mph, from Back to the Future. Winklemeyer's helmet also seems to be intended to resemble the one Doc Brown is seen wearing.
    • Brad looks rather like a beefed-up Sketch Turner from Comix Zone.
    • Don't say you played the unicorn segments of Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids and didn't think "Always, I wanna be with you, and make believe with you, and live in harmony harmony OH LOVE"
    • Manga!Star looks very similar to Starfy.
  • Straw Feminist: Mistress Ropes, though her role is pretty clearly Played for Laughs. When you defeat her, she gets Hotter and Sexier.
  • Take That Us:
    • Star complains that The Maw was ripping people off, with DLC that should have been in the game to begin with. Guess who made that game.
    • The real joke there is that Comic Jumper has three hidden, unlockable levels... for 'Splosion Man!
    • There's also an announcement made to all Twisted Pixel staff to stop using pop culture references, as nobody thinks they're funny. Plus they can't afford the lawsuits.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Brad's Theme is one he recorded himself and you can see the speaker's he's playing it on to psyche himself up for his fight with Smiley.
  • The Unfought: Of all of the villains involved, Dr. Winklemeyer is the one villain in the whole game that Smiley never directly engages in a fight.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Not that Smiley was much of a paragon of virtue to begin with, but he really ratchets up the smugness and self-aggrandizement to new levels during The New Adventures of Captain Smiley. This is ultimately what convinces Gerda and the villains to finally pack their things and leave Smiley to fend for himself in any further endeavors.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Brad practically pissing himself during the Cutie Cutie Cupids levels, begging Smiley to get him out of there, which Star is more willing to take advantage of being a major fan of his. However once you rescue him and speak to him at the hub he just as much a jerkass then ever.
  • Valley Girl: The Bradbots.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Brad, after the game is completed, shows clear signs of having dipped into one of these, though it's a lower-key example than most. When Smiley goes to talk to him, he's lost all his witty and cocky attitude and has sunk into a deep depression, starting to write his own diary. Understandably so, considering the man not only was trapped in a shoujo manga and forced to act as a high school teacher, would have been forced to date a Robot Girl, have her children and go on a world-spanning adventure he likely didn't want had Smiley and Star not arrived (and had Brad not planned to kill himself before it got that far), but also got utterly shown up by and completely trashed by Smiley in his new series and has lost the attention and adoration of his previously-faithful Bradbots. Talk about pride before a fall.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Captain Smiley and Star. Emphasis on "vitriolic".
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Paper Lad, who's basically a sentient wad of paper than can turn into other types of paper.
    • Smiley and Brad agree with this trope when they reach the Manga section.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The final stage, The New Adventures of Captain Smiley, is a crash course lesson in Smiley learning that treating everyone you know like shit is...not exactly a good way of keeping them attached to your brand. As such, they leave not long after his first relaunched issue ends.
  • Where It All Began: The New Adventures of Captain Smiley is a repeat of the very first stage, but made far more difficult, adding the Puttmaster and Mistress Ropes to certain parts of the stage, a new music track, a beefed-up end encounter with Brad, and generally just being a shining monument to Smiley's raging ego.
  • Yandere: Nana and Coco of Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids don't take kindly to Captain Smiley and Star attempting to rescue Brad from their world.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Lolo, the goth looking cupid (and ostensible main antagonist) of Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids. After thanking Smiley for defeating her two sisters, she proclaims she's going to write a super sexy yaoi starring Smiley and Star as a show of gratitude for beating up Nana, Coco and Hehe. They have no idea what she means by that.
  • Your Mom: According to one of the punch sound effects during The New Adventures of Captain Smiley, she "loves Captain Smiley."

Alternative Title(s): Comic Jumper