In honor of Leap Day 2008, Anna Anthropy, editor of The Gamer's Quarter and hobbyist game developer, released Mighty Jill Off, a free, old-school, and delightfully subversive little PC game. Jill Off distills its gameplay down to a very simple and enjoyable level; press left and right to walk, press Z to jump, press Z mid-jump to stop your upward-momentum early, and mash Z repeatedly to hover. Jill Off also distills its theme and plot down to a very simple and enjoyable level; the titular chubby little dyke gimp (which I say in the nicest way possible) is climbing to the top of a tower simply because she's a submissive, and her greatest joy in life is when her dominatrix queen MAKES her climb to the top of the tower.
As editor of The Gamer's Quarter -- the closest thing the game industry has to a journal of serious critique -- Anna Anthropy spends a great deal of time knee-deep in theory, but unlike most theorists who are content to offer commentary from the peanut gallery, Anna gets her hands dirty from time to time to practice what she preaches. In Mighty Jill Off, the result is a textbook example in good level design; continue checkpoints are denoted by obvious but unobtrusive changes in the tower's color scheme (although there are a few mercifully thrown in without color changes, so they come as a pleasant surprise when you die and discover that you don't have to start the tough section you're working through all the way from the beginning), the game's tougher sections are immediately followed by easy, "breather" sections, and the game's deceptively simple mechanics are delivered in a natural progression of bite-sized chunks; first you learn the basics in a safe environment, and then you learn the tricky bits in a safe environment, and then you are presented with the basics plus danger, and then the tricky bits plus danger.
Mighty Jill Off is Anna Anthropy's best work to date, and the few complaints I have are very minor (I'd prefer that the hover be mapped to a button, as my aging hands can't mash jump as well as they did in my youth, and I didn't understand how to effect a counter near the end of the game). Overall this is a wonderful little diversion that won't take you long to finish (I beat it the first time in 29 and a half minutes, and the designer herself can beat it in 8 and a half), but you'll probably come back once or twice to try to beat your best time. Perhaps Mighty Jill Off will also make you pause for a moment and wonder what's REALLY going on the next time another game makes you spend a half dozen levels jumping through hoops and dodging monsters just to get a half-hearted "congratulation" from a princess who barely seems to notice you're there. Maybe, just maybe, that's the way you LIKE it.