Mr. Run and Jump is a retro-inspired platformer for the Nintendo Switch. This Atari-published title isn’t from the ‘80s, but was developed specially by Atari for the 2600 console. It now finds its way to the Switch to deliver punishingly hard platforming to genre enthusiasts.

The game follows a bounding hero named Mr. Run and Jump. It seems his dog, Leap, has wandered off (well, a leash would solve that problem), and it’s our job to follow him through 20 colorful levels filled with platforming perils. This somehow leads us to a disturbing entity known as the Void that’s messing with the colors of the world. Yikes!

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The intro is fantastic, with a super-retro style reminiscent of the early days of gaming. I mistakenly thought I was enjoying the origin of a forty-year-old game. However, the blocky walls and simple jumps were purposely created to show how far technology has come in that time. Finishing this beginning level brings our hero to a starkly different world that looks brilliant, with glittering neon lights paving the way forward. 

Gameplay elements are introduced via an interactive helper named Mr. Watch and Learn; I love this naming convention. The tutorials also work well, teaching you the ins and outs of running, jumping, leaping, and more. There are a few neat moves at your disposal, and mastering them is essential. Wall jumps, high jumps, dashes, and leaps form your arsenal of abilities. 

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It doesn’t take long for things to become tricky. Death lurks at every corner, and a lot of rooms involve pulling off multiple, perfectly timed moves in quick succession. It’s fulfilling to achieve, but it can lead to frustration for novice players. Thankfully, you respawn quickly at the beginning of a room. Even better, after several untimely deaths, a few helpers appear in the form of an invincibility star or a checkpoint. Checkpoints mean you can respawn even closer to where you perished, while the star means you can dash through that section unscathed. I also enjoyed that you can adjust how often these helpers appear: frequently, less frequently, or never. It’s a good way to customize the experience and help out struggling players. Using the star feels a little like cheating, and kind of defeats the purpose of the challenge. It’s still a nice inclusion, though.

Let’s talk about controls. Running and jumping is simple enough, but special moves begin with a crouch. Crouching is done with the left shoulder button, which doesn’t feel super intuitive initially. I kept trying to press down on the D-pad while learning the ropes, but it begins to make sense when you pull off midair moves, requiring quick fingers.

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I must also mention a simple way to customize this game via its title screen, which I really like. You can change things up by renaming the game (and your character) to either “Ms. Run and Jump” or simply “Run and Jump”. This subtle touch is a nice addition to a 2023 game.

Overall, Mr. Run and Jump is a colorful, tricky platformer that will get your heart racing. If you relish the challenge of replaying levels until you get them right, or collecting everything in sight, you’ll get a kick (and a run and a jump) out of this one.