Smiley is able to slide along the ground to avoid gunfire and other projectiles, but this isn't enough to get out of situations where there are things trying to hurt you from all directions. Certain incoming threats - such as chickens catapulted at you from villagers in the Nanoc levels - can be shot out of the sky, but other objects can't. Melee combat sequences are far less frustrating, as are the on-rails Sin and Punishment-style interludes, but these are a small part of the overall game.
Despite some variety interspersed into the core running and gunning, repetition is Comic Jumper's biggest problem. Twisted Pixel's previous game, 'Splosion Man, excelled in terms of tight controls and smart level design, whereas Comic Jumper feels like a fairly generic old-school game inside a clever graphical style that current hardware allows. The manga-inspired Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids comic is a perfect example of style over function, with the hand-drawn art making it hard to actually see what's going on.
Comic Jumper is genuinely funny, although it might take a while to get in tune with what is at times a slightly juvenile tone. The characters here are amusingly self-aware: they know they're in a video game, and the development team has played on this quite superbly. This runs from the dialogue through to the in-game special moves - one of which sees the arms of dev team members flying onto the screen to kill all the enemies. There are moments of pure craziness too, with an early woman-surfing sequence highlighting the level of humour on offer. It might not sound particularly amusing, but in the context of the game it works.
For an XBLA game the fact that there's voice acting is a big bonus, and it's uniformly excellent. Sadly the lip-synching appears to be less impressive in the later stages, but the delivery is still superb. In typical Twisted Pixel fashion there are some hilarious little touches too, with the song that plays over the stats screen being a particular favourite of mine.
At points Comic Jumper will frustrate to the extent that you'll want to walk away and never look at it again, but if the humour grabs you then it's possible to overlook the many problems. I'd have preferred a more forgiving game that didn't jar so much with the tongue-in-cheek feel, but the hardcore gameplay is tolerable and things become easier as you progress. Comic Jumper is a solid XBLA release that will please some more than others, but for me it's definitely a case of style over substance.