There was one Jedi ability in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order that I found so underwhelming that it gave me pause for thought. The protagonist, Cal Kestis, can Force rag-doll stormtroopers with ease, he can lazily block blaster bolts and boomerang his lightsaber across the battlefield.
On the other hand, the boy can’t Force Jump.
When he does ‘remember’ how to use the Force to get more elevation, the result is disturbingly wimpy. At the apex of his normal leap, Cal does a tumble in the air, spinning forwards a few more feet. I mean, it’s impressive (I’m not saying I can do better) but for a Jedi he’s definitely under-performing. For a video game character... it’s a little blasé; a front-flip as a double jump? Seen it.
Not that the Jedi jumps are better in Battlefront...
At first glance, Jedi in Star Wars Battlefront seem to jump well. No double jumps needed. They have the distance - the longer you hold the button, the further they sail into the air. However, the time it takes to make the jump is alarming. The character coasts upwards, making their merry way to the apex of the jump, giving all gun-toting creatures in the vicinity time to lock on to them.
If Cal Kestis could match the majestic heights of Star Wars Battlefront II Jedis, he would be an impressive double jumper, but right now he’s really lacking. This isn’t the first time I’ve poked fun at a protagonist’s dinky double jump; for all of Kratos’ strengths, his double jump is the barely more than a hiccup-induced flinch.
The Double Jump is such a strange video game quirk, but it makes sense. Sometimes a game wants to make traversal more challenging by having shorted/longer jumps, but the jumps need to be precise - we want one press for a short bounce, second press for something bigger. This also allows for the game to ward off an area before you unlock the double jump.
Some heroes double jump better than others. I imagine most people will look at the title of this blog and shout ‘MARIO!’. But is he actually a good double jumper? He’s definitely versatile, with at least half a dozen ways to double and triple jump, or even back-flip (I think there are 7 different jumps?). Mario controls consistently well in every game. However, is he actually a good double jumper?
His midair acrobatics are versatile, but if you need so many different ways to leap, are you compensating? My experience with Mario’s double jumping has been mainly under or over-shooting every other platform he leaps to. His journey from one place to another is very much a trial-and-error affair. You might argue that ‘he falls off so many platforms because he’s mainly in Platform Games’ but to me I see see a protagonist who’s double jumps are extremely haphazard (and not because of my lack of skill, why would you think that?).
Now Doom Guy, that’s a double jump pro. It’s simple, inflexible, but when that guy bounces in the air, the second long jump is the same length as the first. His technique is flawless, which is all the more impressive when you consider that he’s propelled by rocket boots. It takes great balance and superb core strength to avoid spinning head over heels into oblivion. The fact that he can pull this off whilst wearing heavy armour and wielding heavier weapons places him well above Mario.
I’m obviously being silly, but one fact hangs over all of this: double jumping is weird. We ignore it in Mario because he’s been doing in for so long that it seems normal. On the other hand, Doom Guy only “needs” the double jump because the decision was made to wedge platforming sections between the combat areas, and to make the jumps really far.
So when asking ‘Who is the Double Jump Master?’, it’s a layered question. There’s the surface level skill, the majesty of the characters spring. Mario and Doom Guy have their techniques down.
Secondly, there’s also the logic of the Double Jump. It’s a strange, old-fashioned video game quirk that keeps turning up in games. Cal Kestis should be able to Force Jump, but settled for the most generic midair front-flip imaginable.
Mario has never had to explain how he can double jump, or why his little Italian knees haven’t to dust from the countless triple jumps he’s performed. In Devil May Cry, the ‘air hike’ required a summoned magical glyph for the protagonists to jump off but in Dishonored you can double jump because... you become more agile? Psychonauts employed a ball of psychic energy but in Destiny you have double jump because decent jet packs apparently still haven’t been invented in the future...
Above all else, the more I see double jumping in modern games, the more I ask, “is that really something we still need?”. Most players are capable of pressing a button for a specific length of time to tell the game how long they want the character to jump for. Double jumps keep turning up in games that are not platform games, usually as a way to lazily lock a destination, or add a level of ‘challenge’ to getting from A to B that is either unnecessary or adds no extra fun. Sometimes, however, it is incorporated wisely.
So when deciding who the ultimate aerial launcher is, consider:
- How competent are they? Can they get some good distance? With style?
- Is it an impressive ability in itself? Are they just spinning nonsensically in the air? Or is something stylish happening to give them extra lift?
- Do they actually need to do it? Does the game justify the double jumping, or is this a lazy way round a new, more or interesting mode of travel?
With that said, who is truly the Master of Double Jumps?
Written by Rufus Scott.