On my iPad's home screen, the title of Jazz: Trump's Journey is just one word: "Jazz." That about sums it up, I guess.
Trump's Journey is a game about jazz, more or less — it's a two-dimensional platformer starring a gentleman who looks a bit like a cartoon version of Louis Armstrong. His name is "Trump", and you have three guesses what instrument he plays. The first two don't count.
Trump is on a quest to become a big-time jazz trumpeter, and of course the only way to do that is by climbing over obstacles, collecting music notes and photos, and using his trumpet to get past challenges. Just like real life!
Trump's Journey isn't exactly a music game — it's a musical game, in that the soundtrack is welcomely swinging and the whole game is built around the fundamental concept of music as life.
The game itself is a lot of fun — it's a basic platformer for the most part, with players moving left and right, jumping by tapping on the screen, playing Trump's instrument (have you guessed what it is?), and climbing and dismounting ladders.
There's nothing particularly groundbreaking in the gameplay — move a crate to jump to a higher platform, move onto a levitating ledge to keep going — and it begins to channel Braid (of all games) with a time-stopping mechanic. Despite feeling a bit floaty, the game shines with artistic polish and charm that was more than enough to keep me playing. It's a surface-level treatment of the long and complicated history of jazz, but the story is cute enough. The simple fact that it revolves around an early 20th century jazz musician finding inspiration and love in New Orleans sets it apart from the vast majority of video games. It ain't Treme, but that was fine by me.
The soundtrack is quite nice, starting out with Gene Krupa-esque floor-tom grooves and moving into all manner of other bouncing beat. It makes sense that this music would go great behind a platformer — at times, Trump's Journey recalls The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom — and it's nice to see that theory proved once again in such a breezy fashion.
Jazz: Trump's Journey ($2.99, universal app) [iTunes App Store]