J.J. & Jeff
Every so often a game pops up on my radar that’s so ripe for reviewing on the world’s very best retro gaming website that it’s almost my duty to bring it to you good folks.
Forget The Flintstones, it’s ALL about J.J. & Jeff.
Developed by Hudson Soft, the TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine game certainly must have been an interesting one to sell to American audiences seeing as the whole thing is based on a segment of a then popular Japanese TV show with hosts Kato-chan and Ken-chan seen here in the goofy advert for the game:
One thing you might have noticed is that Kato-chan and Ken-chan look nothing like J.J. & Jeff.
That’s no accident.
Quite a few changes were made to the original version of the game in order to cater to Western audiences, one of them was basically a complete character re-model. The title screen of the game used to look like this:
But then became the one featured right at the top of this review.
Somehow Kato-chan and Ken-chan became…
Seriously though, what is with J.J. and Jeff? That permanent smile on their faces (unless they’re getting hurt) is haunting to say the least.
The game opens with J.J. getting a phone call.
Easily one of Michael Douglas’ best line reads in years, by the way.
You get the idea: J.J. and Jeff set off to rescue some rich guy because… he’s rich. As to who he actually is, who’s kidnapped him and why, not to mention who on Earth J.J. and Jeff are: I’m honestly not entirely sure.
Not convinced this counts as a plot, Hudson Soft. Just saying.
I’ll give the game that, though: it’s pretty funny.
Your “attacks” include kicking, which looks silly, jumping on stuff and using some spray can of what I’m guessing is meant to be paint. In the original game, Kato-chan and Ken-chan wouldn’t so much spray gas at opponents as they would directly fart at them.
At first I thought Gordon Gekko was blowing his hot coffee in people’s faces. The fact the character is meant to be farting certainly explains that squatting position and facial expression.
There’s a lot of toilet humour in this game and there was a whole lot more of it in the original version. Sadly, countless poo and pee jokes were cut out of the Americanised version and we were left with only about a dozen and a half.
And that’s just sad.
Come on, Hudson Soft! It doesn’t make sense if Jeff isn’t crapping in bushes or peeing on lamp posts as I kick him in the butt!
Why am I kicking him, then?
I’m trying to uphold the law here!
Public urination and defecation is a serious crime.
In a weird way… you could say that J.J. is the Batman of anti-public urination laws!
(note to self: not everything is Batman)
Unfortunately, in the world this game is set in, birds tend to provide the human excrement so it’s a bit of a struggle to bring justice to the forefront.
Upside-down poo can even be found in walls and it can drain your energy if you touch it.
Darn this radioactive wall poo.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the birds’ incontinence. Their name clearly states what they’re about.
These explanations could have been useful early on in the game, not right at the end. For a second there I thought I was playing some bizarre Liberace-led version of Dr. Jekyll And Mr Hyde, another game featuring birds with oversized droppings.
You’ll be happy to know that there are toilets in the game and that they lead to… Heaven where (dead?) Jeff gives you useful tips on how to proceed.
Now, again, I’m confused.
Not only by the Heaven thing but also by the fact that J.J. can kick the Men’s and Women’s symbols inscribed outside the public toilets thereby changing them and, playing the game, I somehow died at one point because I did that.
The levels themselves are basic and quite repetitive. You’ve got the street, the forest, there’s a cemetery at one point, nothing too interesting or creative, really. Playing the game, you do feel like a plot and settings were tacked on at the last minute in order to give the characters somewhere to go and kick poop but not much thought went into it at all otherwise.
Oh sure, there are bosses in the game but they’re hardly memorable either. Mostly, they’re just different dudes with beards throwing big rocks at you. Again, they only get a name and a purpose in the end credits sequence.
The only enemy that kinda stands out is the Loch Ness monster himself, Nessie (or “Nessy”) as he shows up here and there during the game, getting in your way. Some Nessies spit fire, others don’t and you can also find smaller Nessies throughout the game.
Why is Nessie in this game?
Here’s the thing, the game doesn’t need to make sense. In fact, the game could have easily gone all out and been completely surreal, throwing at us just about anything as long as it was funny. Sort of like that Monty Python’s Flying Circus game did but… in a more comprehensive way.
Instead, we get a handful of amusing characters, lols and poo jokes but little else.
Now, don’t get me wrong, playing J.J. & Jeff is still a surreal experience and it’ll leave you with enough random images to make sure you’re entertained by the end of it.
But it’ll still feel a tad underwhelming and a lot puzzling.
The controls are kind of awkward and it’s never clear what you’re meant to be doing (or kicking) but it’s a standard platformer so you should be able to make it through, despite how surprisingly challenging it can be at times. Chances are, though, you’ll start to wonder why you’re not playing something better, something you understand and likely pick the first MegaMan game you lay your hands on.
Here’s how the game ends, by the way:
Then the money bag runs away and everyone starts chasing it Benny Hill style.
Well that was an hour well spent.
I’ll admit I had fun playing this random piece of retro nonsense, mostly because it involved bodily fluids and Hudson Soft making rather bizarre choices. You can probably find the game on the Wii’s Virtual Console but be warned: the only emotion it might bring you besides temporary insanity and laughter is a sense that you should probably go to the toilet and cleanse yourself of all impurities.
Do watch out for those, though: