Reviewing and putting a score on a free game that’s been created in a limited environment with the sole purpose of helping the public improve their physical well being during a global pandemic is… well, it’s a tough one. Do you critically analyse it and pick apart its faults and limitations? Or do you simply view it for what it is? Well, we’ll try and do both; let’s dive right into it.
Jump Rope Challenge is, as mentioned, a completely free game that will be available on the eShop until the end of September. It was created by Nintendo devs whilst working from home during lockdown, and designed to give you a bit of a gentle push if, like us, you’re starting to feel the ‘weight’ of the pandemic lockdown, if you get our drift.
As a package, the game is – given the conditions of its development – naturally quite limited. The objective is as simple as can be: use the Switch’s Joy-Con to simulate a skipping rope, and jump as many times as you can. The game sets an initial target of 100 jumps per day, but you can easily increase this target to whatever you wish in the game’s settings. You can play on your own, or cooperatively with another local player. The actual act of simulating a skipping rope is remarkably authentic, and the Joy-Con even vibrate as you move your arms, making it even more life-like.
Since you need to use the Joy-Con to play Jump Rope Challenge, you cannot play the game in handheld mode (we did in fact try to download it on a Switch Lite, and the eShop gives you a nice warning to advise you of this). You can, of course, play using the Switch’s kickstand, but we found the best method is using docked mode on the big screen, particularly if you want to tackle the game with family members or friends.
Visually, the game is again pretty simplistic; your ‘character’ is a cute little bunny rabbit that jumps in time to your movements. There’s a numeric counter displayed front and centre to help you keep track of how many jumps you’re on, and you can even change the rabbit’s costumes on the fly (although we probably wouldn’t recommend mirroring this and jumping in a three-piece suit).
Once you reach 100 steps on any given day, the game also switches up the background, starting with an adorable cat and also incorporating a relaxing beachfront, and even the surface of the moon. Annoyingly, the cat background also includes the sound of a cat meowing every time you jump, which after a while can be a bit grating. We’d probably recommend muting the game and listening to music if you feel similarly.
All in all, yes the game is very limited. And yes, it’s unlikely to keep most people interested after a few days. But we have to acknowledge the intention here: this isn’t a game to make money, it's not a system seller, and it’s not even a game that we can honestly say you have to download. As a free product, though, it does exactly what you’d need it to do: get you up on your feet a bit more during difficult times, and maybe even put a smile on your face too. Hey, turns out that wasn’t so tough after all.