The hero, who is indeed a man who can jump, has to collect all bombs in every stage consisting of platforms, ladders and ropes, which moves him to the next stage. Falling should be avoided, as should numerous flying bullets. In unrelated news, the main character from the original Donkey Kong games is also called Jumpman, although later versions change him to Mario.
The trick is that every single level after the first has its own unique gimmick: moving platforms, special enemies, invisible platforms, explosive feet, you name it. The result is a lot of variety in what would otherwise be a simple platformer.
The (unofficial) series consists of the following games.
- Jumpman, the original with 30 levels on the Atari 800 and C64, which has been ported to several other systems, including eventually the Wii, but in Europe only.
- Jumpman Junior, Marketed as a sequel, it was actually a scaled-down cartridge port for Atari 800 and C64 users who didn't have disc drives, with many of the gimmick levels removed. The C64 version was also ported to Colecovision.
- Another official sequel, Jumpman 2, was planned but never materialized.
- Jumpman Lives!, created by Apogee Software for the PC, consisted of four episodes and a level editor (although unfortunately, the editor doesn't let you create level gimmicks). In a rather embarrassing move, Apogee was promptly challenged by Epyx, who still owned the rights, and had to withdraw the game. It was quietly removed from their BBS'es and catalogs, and is rather hard to find these days.
- Jumpman Zero, with 28 levels, a freeware game for the PC and PalmOS.
The game contains the following tropes:
- All There in the Manual: Those orange squares you're collecting are actually bombs, planted by a terrorist on a moon of Jupiter. If you fail, the moon explodes. None of this is mentioned in the game.
- Falling Damage: Like in Donkey Kong, Jumpman cannot step down ledges or jump from too great a height, or else he instantly enters his death animation (fortunately, he still disables bombs if he's lucky enough to fall on one. You won't even lose a life if it's the last one for that screen).
- Feathered Fiend: The avian enemies that appear in Roost and Hurricane; though in the case of the latter, the birds are more fighting the wind than trying to catch Jumpman.
- Fun with Acronyms: The Apogee version retconned "Jump" to "Jet-propelled Upward Motion Propulsion".
- Gimmick Level: The point of the game is that (almost) every level has its own unique gimmick.
- Gotta Catch Them All: Each level has a number of bombs present; collect them all (except on a few levels) to advance to the next level.
- Guide Dang It!: Spellbound, and all three of the Grand Puzzles are impossible to do correctly on a first playthrough, and are otherwise hard to pull off without a guidebook or an emulator's save state function. Thankfully, you can still pass these levels by doing them incorrectly, which only gives you less points. Figurit and Figurit's Revenge are worse, and must be completed correctly to continue.
- Homing Projectile:
- The slow moving projectiles approach from the side of the screen. When they're aligned (i.e. same horizontal/vertical position), they make their single turn and accelerate.
- While hailstones bounce around randomly, Hellstones in Jumpman Junior will actively track Jumpman.
- Jump the Shark: The name of a level in Jumpman Zero, which indeed features a shark.
- Kaizo Trap: Inverted and subverted. Collecting bombs in the wrong order can be hazardous, but collecting the last bomb freezes all action and ends the level, even if you are busy falling to your death, which will prevent you from losing the life.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: Jumpman cannot strike anything hostile or he's killed instantly.
- Sdrawkcab Name: Junior's third level, Sreddal. Under Construction gives this name to the mobile ladder object.
- Super Drowning Skills: In most levels of Jumpman Zero, you die upon touching the water. One level is an exception and allows you to swim.
- Take Your Time: Although there is a timer, it's only for scoring points. Only the existing hazards are dangerous.
- Unwinnable by Design:
- Figurit, if you collect the bombs in the wrong order. Figurit's Revenge merely becomes very difficult if you don't collect them in the right order.
- Fire! Fire! from Junior has one of the bombs place a fire in the middle of the ladder, cutting off Jumpman from the upper and lower sections. In typical play, this may happen if Jumpman clears out the upper section of bombs before going to the lower section but falls - and fixing that may require trying to get one of the bombs by a chance in the death animation.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Figurit's Revenge has trap bombs - picking them up opens a trap underneath. Additionally, one has to experiment by collecting the bombs to figure out what they do and figure out the correct order to collect things.