The Strange Tale of Soviet Jump Game, the Original Battle Royale

Nothing quite piques the interest of gaming historians than the uncovering of a game lost to the sands of time.

An unreleased title shrouded in mystery from the days of cathode-ray tube TVs and blocky, off white plastic consoles, stumbled upon by sheer accident.

It’s tantalizing stuff and precisely what Soviet Jump Game appears to be. Or so it seems.

The Strange Story of Lost Dendy Battle Royale Soviet Jump Game
Source: Soviet Jump Game

Dendy

Touted as the first-ever Battle Royale, Soviet Jump Game is a never-released title for the Dendy console from the early 1990s. By way of a rather serendipitous string of discoveries, it was recently uncovered by YouTube channel Game Grumps and remastered for modern systems.

In the heyday of the cartridge-based home console in the late 80s and early 90s, an unlicensed hardware clone of Nintendo’s NES named the Dendy regaled hundreds of thousands of gamers in the former Soviet Union. Cheap and cheerful, it spawned countless knock-off titles and a level of intrigue that persists to this day among retro-enthusiast circles.

Game Grumps Stumble Upon ‘Spot On Jumping Friends’

In a three-video series, Arin from Game Grumps walks us through how initial interest in the storied Dendy led to stumbling upon the game.

While testing out a handful of Russian bootleg titles, a mysterious Dendy Junior cartridge sporting a handwritten label in Russian fails to load. An error screen blocks access to the game.

The Strange Story of Lost Dendy Battle Royale Soviet Jump Game
Source: Game Grumps/YouTube

One thing leads to another, and it turns out the label reads ‘Spot On Jumping Friends’. The error message explains the game requires an internet adapter to function. An oddity for a time when online gaming wasn’t yet widespread and even more surprising from a bootleg Soviet game. Prying the Dendy apart reveals a concealed serial port. The mystery heightens.

An unearthed grainy TV ad and a few Amazon deliveries later, Arin succeeds in booting up the game using a powered Ethernet adapter. A glitchy mess of errant pixels, it seems to represent a rudimentary multiplayer…

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