Sunday, October 3, 2021

Matter of Import 79: Jolly Jogger [Taito 1982]


Jolly Jogger is a 1982 arcade game from Taito that falls into the Maze Chase category, though closer to Amidar than Pac-Man. As the Jogger you connect lines while evading the thugs trying to catch you. Every square you successfully mark off completes a part of the design, with the goal of finishing it before the long fuse to a bomb burns off.

Having to close off all four sides of each square rather than simply claiming larger tracts of territory adds difficulty to your task, though thankfully the enemy doesn’t destroy you if they touch the lines you leave behind. Further, like in Pac-Man, there are special squares that give you the power to turn the tables on your foes for a short time once walled off.

Despite somewhat simple sprites for 1982 Jolly Jogger is actually fun to play, one of those games that I think could have done well in the US if they’d bothered to distribute it here. Perhaps Taito simply didn’t think “jogging in the park while being pursued by thugs” would have found resonance with American arcade audiences, but to be honest with a lot of these early games the story and context is less important than the gameplay. The sound isn’t half-bad either. It’s a welcome spin on the maze grid genre, and I give the game a B ranking.

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