Jumping Jack: Classic Arcade Game Video, History & Game Play Overview


Jumping Jack, a scrolling computer game that was created by Stuart and Albert Ball, eventually became known as Leggit when it was released for the arcade. In 1983, Jumping Jack first became available on a home computer gaming system known as ZX Spectrum. Shortly thereafter, Imagine Software purchased developing and publishing rights to the game, and released the game under the title Leggit!

Jack, the main character, originally appeared as a crudely drawn, black stick figure. By the time that Jumping Jack made it to the arcade in 1984, all of the characters as well as the background was completely redesigned. Jack himself appears to be a small, round explorer, wearing a white hat.

Although Imagine has never official re-released the game, publishing and licensing rights have been extended to other entities. Quite a few copycats, clones and modified versions of Jumping Jack have popped up within the last few years. More recent inceptions of Jumping Jack show the main protagonist as a four-legged, green colored alien.

Jumping Jack also appears under the name Leggit! Because Sumlock, another UK based game publisher also planned to debut a game of the same name in 1983. Although the two games were completely different, Imagine Software conceded with the name change for practical purposes. Jumping Jack also came out on the Dragon 32 and Atari 800 home gaming systems. Universal is the publisher for the arcade version of Jumping Jack. Only one player mode is available.


Game Play Overview

Playing as Jack, a hapless explorer that jumps from platform to platform, the objective is to get to the top of each screen. There are holes, jungle animals and other hazards that block his path. In the arcade version of Jumping Jack, there are 20 levels, which are also referred to as scenes. In the original ZX Spectrum release, a song known as “The Ballad of Jack” was revealed, line by line, as players progressed through the stages.

Set on the African continent, a colorful map is shown at the very beginning of the game. Destinations such as Monkey's Hill, Mt. Opal and Lake Fats are detailed on the map, giving the game a little comic relief. Jack is the only playable character. Jack will fall over if he makes contact with any of his enemies.

While completing Jumping Jack is the main goal, your secondary objective should be to achieve a high score. The score at the top of the screen indicates what the high score for the current game being played is. In the bottom right hand corner, there is a 'bonus' score that continuously goes down. Essentially, this is a time bonus, so try to complete every level as quickly as you can.

When a man is lost, or when you reach the top of the board, the bonus score is added to your main score. At the beginning of each stage, Jack starts off in the bottom left corner, where a blinking sign that reads 'go' signals the start. Players must move in a snake-like pattern; going across the board, either left or right, then up. When they reach the next platform, Jack must hop in the opposite direction.

At the very top of each screen, there is another wooden sign that reads 'goal.' Just beyond this is a large dollar sign that signifies a completion bonus. Cherry icons, which are dispersed randomly on every level, are worth 1,000 points each. At some points, Jack will have to jump on seesaws. Many times, there are enemies on these seesaws, which make them even more hazardous.

When Jack jumps on a seesaw at the right moment, he can send an enemy flying, destroy it, and earn 200 or 1,000 points. Monkeys are the only enemies that hang out on seesaws on a regular basis, and they come in both the white and pink variety.

Regardless of whether Jack advances or goes up a level, he accumulates 10 additional points for every 'hop.' Monkeys, natives, hippos, birds, turtles and fish are the main enemy groups that Jack has to battle. Natives usually appear at the top of the stage, pushing large rocks that roll until they reach the edge of the board, and then disappear. On some levels, natives throw spears, which fly through the air. You can only lose a life if you touch one of your enemies or their weapons.

Special Features

There are holes on some of the platforms, which should always be avoided. The only exception to this rule occurs when the hiding mole bonus appears. Some levels feature a mole that originates out of one of these holes. When the mole gets to the top platform, Jack can jump to the hole and pick up a 5,000 point bonus.

Next to the main high score, there is a large rectangular box that spells out the word 'extra.' Each time that a white monkey is eliminated by Jack, a new letter is highlighted. Get all of the letters to become highlighted in white to each an extra life and automatically advance to the next level.

When the first given stages have been cleared, players gets to activate the bonus spin feature. Resembling a three-line slot machine, you will need to hit the action key to get the reels spinning. Bonus points will be awarded depending on the number of matches that come up.


Birds – Flying birds will sometimes appear out of nowhere and shoot across the sky. Thankfully, attacking birds are restricted to only a few stages.

Cherries – Cherry icons are usually placed on top of ledges, mushrooms or platforms. They will not always appear on clear pathways, so decide whether or not the extra points are worth potentially losing a life.

Monkeys – Pink and white monkeys roam the platforms on every board. Monkeys also hop, so try to avoid colliding with them during your jumps.

Seesaws – Seesaws look different from level to level, but they all serve the same purpose. Use them to get across a tier or to send a monkey flying into the air.

Hippos – Hippos tend to stay off to the side of the action, charging back and forth. They run into plateaus, causing them to shake. This can make Jack lose his footing. Should you fall off of a platform, you will likely be trampled by a hippo.

Jack – Jack is the energetic climber that bounces from spot to spot. Make him jump with the action button.

Fish – Large, predatory fish skim the surface of all water levels. They become dangerous when they go past the edge of a log or floating platform because they expose their huge mouths and leap.

Turtles – These enemies are generally harmless, unless Jack happens to fall off of one of the logs.

Natives – Natives don't appear on every level, but they are some of the most dangerous opponents that Jack faces. Armed with either rocks or spears, natives send flying or rolling obstacles in Jack's direction.

How to Play Jumping Jack

The only controls that you will need to use during Jumping Jack game play are the directional keys and the action button. Jack will always start off in the bottom right corner. He will need to make it to the far left or the far right side of the top platform.

Jack starts each game with three or five lives. Lives are accumulated or lost by way of the extra bonus or being killed by an opponent. After the map image is shown, Jack will immediately progress to level one.

Level 1 – Scene 1-1
On level one, Jack must contend with pink and white monkeys as well as rock rolling natives. The natives will be relegated to the top left hand corner, and rocks can only roll as far as the left side of the fifth tier.

There will be a few mole holes that you have to avoid, but otherwise, it should be easy for you to make your way to the top. Use the mushroom caps to bounce to adjacent ledges, and grab the two cherry bonuses before you get to the very top.

Level 2 – Scene 1-2
Scene 1-2 introduces hippos for the first time in the game. Jack will start off in the left hand, bottom corner again, making his way to the right. After he jumps on the first plateau, there will be a cherry icon.

After this, you will need to snake back and forth, going up the plateaus that are situated to the right of the screen. The money bag will be the left.

Level 3 – Scene 1-3
Again, the main map will flash across the screen. Jack will now travel to the Masakari tribe. The tribesmen on this board will be throwing spears at random. Beginning in the bottom left corner, Jack must hop across two seesaws. Avoid the white money, and then use the flat rock to get to the next tier.

There are four cherry icons on this board, with two of them being toward the far right. Continue to jump on mushroom caps to get to the seesaws and plateaus. The money bag reward is to the right.

Level 4 – Scene 1-4
Next, Jack will be stopping at scene 1-4. This is a stage that takes place on the river. There will be quite a few white and pink monkeys in addition to turtles and predatory fish. The logs that float in the water act as seesaws.

Jack will also have five cherry icons available. Time your jumps so that you don't get swallowed whole by the predatory fish, and make you way to the top. The final goal and money bag will be on the top right.

Level 5 – Scene 1-5
After getting across the river, Jack will be back on dry land for scene 1-5. This stage is pretty straight forward, with five cherry icons. Some of the plateaus on this level will have an awning, but this is just for decorative purposes. Monkeys and other enemies cannot use the coverings in any manner.

There will be a couple of areas where you will need to jump from one seesaw to another. If a monkey jumps onto a seesaw, you will go flying off and potentially lose a life. Be aware of your surroundings and move quickly if you see a monkey approaching. Collect the money bag at the top left, then get ready for the bonus spin round.

Bonus Round
Tap the action button once and the reels will start to spin. Jack will need to jump on top of each reel in order to reveal the icon. In total, you will need to jump three times. After the reels stop spinning, your bonus will be tabulated and you will move to the next level.

Level 6 and Beyond
Scene 2-1 is essentially a repeat of level one. Your enemies will move a little faster this time, and there will be several moles. Move quickly and carefully to avoid losing a turn.

The boards will continue to loop, as indicated by the map. The speed will increase, but no new enemies will emerge. You can continue to play until you run out of lives.

Hints and Tips
- When jumping, it is almost impossible to lose a life if you touch an enemy while in the air. For whatever reason, Jack is able to pass through enemies without being harmed when he jumps. If you have a bunch of opponents coming your way, you may be able to hop you way out of a bind.

- Try to kill white monkeys with seesaws whenever you can. Eliminating white monkeys is the only way to get the extra bonus as well as extra men.

- You can increase your score simply by jumping in place. Although a high score won't give you any extra men, you will be able to record your name in the list of high scores at the end of the game.


We hope you enjoyed the video and the information shared on this classic arcade game.

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