Wait a minute--Nintendo made Mario games for the Commodore 64? Well, no. Around the same time Nintendo's proper-name-lacking Reainassance man was still barrel-hopping in arcades, Epyx was giving life to a character of the same name (or non-name, I guess) on the Commodore 64 and other computer systems like the Atari 800 and the Apple II. I didn't know for the longest time that Donkey Kong's protagonist had a tentative name pre-Mario, so there was never any confusion on my end. There was only Jumpman--that whacky C64 game-series I was always inexplicably returning to.
The objective was to clear a stage by collecting all of its unidentifiable, strewn-about brown pellets, the procuring of which sometimes caused environmental changes like sections of platforms or ladders disappearing. Other times, for "Why not?" reasons, sections of platform would fall on my head immediately upon a pellet's collection, or I'd be instantly dropped to my death without warning, because "Why not?"
For me, in fact, death was the theme of the game. The character Jumpman was a lot like the early-years Mario in that he couldn't survive falls of more than a few inches; considering how small the margin of error was, the most common theme was me falling to my death because I couldn't jump in time or because I tried leaping down to a platform that the game decided was too low. It might have been infuriating had I not always gotten a kick out of Jumpman's death animation, which saw him tumblingly pratfall his way down several stories of the stage before splatting, each respective flop accompanied by a comical sound effect and the inevitable punctuation of a sped-up version of Chopin's "Funeral March."
Jumpman Junior was more of the same, but it at least gave you an option to choose between 10 different gameplay speeds, the middle numbers of which made the action more manageable. Still, while Junior added more in the way of stage hazards (fire, shifting ladders, moving walls), it still relied mostly on the exact same formula and particularly an overload of those irritating floating bullets. Even during a time when I didn't know what a true sequel was supposed to be, I sensed something was wrong about all of this. I mean, none of its changes, even if positive, did anything to mask the glaring flaws of the original's gameplay, and I wasn't sure why it needed to exist. Jumpman Junior was pure expansion-pack material--neither better or worse than the original. It was certainly an odd philosophy for the creation of a sequel (well, if you're not EA).
Because why not?