Version tested: Retro
It's so easy to forget how gaming habits change. We look back now, and most every game stamped with the retro seal is considered simple. They might be, in comparison to modern titles, but at the time we had very particular and demanding requirements which varied wildly depending on format. Jack the Nipper, therefore, should be considered quite carefully when placed in line for retro scrutiny.
At the arcades we wanted a fast, attractive, noisy, violent assault on the senses, but at home we were looking for a far more immersive experience. Jack the Nipper took that demand and moulded it into a loveable, dynamic character play that hid the depths of its still waters in quirky, inventive gameplay. This a particularly impressive achievement, as a few altered graphics and change in back story and juvenile Jack could have been the star of any genre - but the more serious it became, the less fun such a detailed game would be.
Requiring players to simply be as naughty as possible, without reason or explanation (which, after all, is the defining privilege of infancy), Jack the Nipper combined beautiful comic book graphics with riotous adventuring and unabashed impishness. Retrieving his peashooter from just out of rascally finger's reach was a superb introduction to the game mechanics and primed players for the iniquitous infantile larks that followed. Scaring cats, putting glue on dentures, blowing up Police stations and many more devilish japes all served to fill the "naughtyometer" while avoiding the inevitable nappy rash that accompanies a stiff spanking for getting caught.
The graphics delighted 1980s gamers with a style perfectly reminiscent of the Beano and Dandy; crafting such an incredible interactive comic book it's a tragedy this irksome infant's wheezes and escapades never evolved into the fully fledged franchise it deserved.
8 / 10