Better Than Cheap: Mighty Jill Off

I love Mighty Jill Off. Absolutely love it.

The phrase “charming retro platformer” usually translates to “cutesy animals and rainbows with chirpy soundtrack”. In other words, mostly nauseating. It was refreshing to play a NES-style platformer that charmed the fuck out of me with nary a fluffy cloud in sight. This game is about punishment, domination and spikes. Plus, it’s called Mighty Jill Off, with a secret hard mode called Jill Off Harder, with a one-handed spin-off called, well, Jill Off With One Hand. Puerile humour and BDSM, what’s not to like?

You play Jill, who lives in a tower with the Queen. One day, after being too forward with her adulation, the Queen declares “you have to earn that!” and throws her to the bottom of the tower. Luckily for the player, Jill is a mighty jumper, and it’s up to you to guide her to the top again to prove her devotion.

When people say a game requires pixel-perfect positioning, it’s usually hyperbolic – after all, pixels are generally too small to discern – but not in Mighty Jill Off’s case. Big chunky pixels are the order of the day, and you’d best pay attention to them if you want to survive. It’s an appropriately punishing game. I found I had more success when I trusted my instincts and tried to go as fast as possible. If I hesitated, I’d usually mistime a jump, just like in real life.

Were the enemies and platforms placed haphazardly, the game might be less compelling, but the challenge is designed with care.  Several times, I found myself staring at a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, only to discover that I was more than capable of overcoming it.  It’s this kind of awareness of what the player sees, and how they proceed, that leads to a satisfying experience.

Jill is pretty adorable, so I felt sorry for her initially, but then I remembered she’s a submissive and she really digs the pain she’s going through. I’d make a terrible dominant. On the other hand, having put myself through the repeated frustration of trying to get to the top of that goddamn tower just to beat the game and get my reward of the ending scene, I think I’d make a pretty good submissive.

The game was made by Anna Anthropy, voted the 90th Hottest Queer Woman in the Galaxy by Autostraddle, which strikes me as a remarkable achievement, since I doubt many other videogame designers have made a “Top 100 Hottest” list. She’s made a whole mess of games I’m eager to try out (Encyclopedia Fuckme and the Case of the Vanishing Entree is particularly intriguing), and has written a book called Rise of the Videogame Zinesters which seems like my kind of bag. I’m hugely thankful people like her are making games, because even when it comes to something as straightforward as a retro platformer, I’ll take sadomasochism over those cutesy animals any day.

Mighty Jill Off is available as a free download for PC and Mac.

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