Halfbrick’s Fruit Ninja was a casual success story, but it wasn’t much of a game. It was simplistic, at best, and annoying at worst. I know there are people out there who absolutely love it, but I have a feeling they’re the same people who were really into Doodle Jump. They were people who weren’t playing a lot of games over the past ten years or who were relatively new to games.
Let’s cut to the chase: Halfbrick has another iOS hit on their hands, but there’s no way it will be as successful as Fruit Ninja. Fruit Ninja was a casual blast that everyone could pick up, play, and understand. Jetpack Joyride, though easy enough to understand, is not that game.
Jetpack Joyride represents something different from Halfbrick. It’s not a complete game, as it’s a procedurally-generated endless runner/flyer, but it’s definitely better than Raskulls, their previous effort, on Xbox Live Arcade.
Jetpack Joyride is a follow-up to Halfbrick’s previous iOS action game, Monster Dash, and features a couple of elements from said game: Barry Steakfries, the hero, and the Machine Gun Jetpack. However, hero may not be the best word, as the whole premise of the game is that you are stealing a Machine Gun Jetpack from a research facility and, like ‘Splosion Man before it, laying waste to defenseless scientists along the way. When did game developers start having so many creationists on the payroll?
The game is simple. Touch the screen to power your jetpack. Gravity and momentum play a part here, but it’s mostly an afterthought. You must fly up and down a corridor as you avoid lasers, zappers, and missiles. The further you go, the faster the game gets. You’re going to need to react quickly if you are to succeed in game.
Along the way, you’ll find powerful vehicles that give you a nice change of pace. The further you get in the game, the more relief the vehicles bring. Each vehicle has a different control scheme and can absorb one hit before you’re back to the hectic pace of the jetpack. In a very nice twist, the explosion from you vehicle sends out a shockwave that takes out nearby hazards, thus ensuring that you don’t instantly die after losing your vehicle.
As you travel through the corridors, which change in appearance from area to area, you’ll occasionally find “Spin Tokens” floating around that gets you a spin on the “Final Spin” slot machine. The “Final Spin” really reminds me of the “Last Hurrah” in Bejeweled Blitz. With a little luck, it can boost your score significantly. The best effect, “The Second Chance,” gets you back on your feet and in the air right where you left off. Other effects toss your downed body (possibly “cadaver” as it doesn’t really say what happens to Barry) anywhere from 100 meters forward to 400 meters. Then there’s good, old fashioned coins that can be used in the “Stash.”
Most of the items found within the Stash are merely cosmetic, but there are a few of use. The Coin Magnet upgrade for your vehicles, at 5000 coins each, should be one of the first places you invest. If you have a moral dilemma killing defenseless scientists, there are non-violent jetpacks available that shoot anything from bubbles to rainbows. My daughter, being the reprehensible sociopath that she is, was torn when she discovered the rainbow jetpack did not kill scientists. She went back to the machine gun jetpack shortly thereafter.
While playing, you are given up to three mission objectives at a time that reward stars based upon difficulty. Some are basically given to you, such as “Put a Hole in the Wall 5 times,” which you do at the start of every game. Others, are a bit harder, such as “Reach 1750 meters without picking up a coin.” Earn enough stars and you level up. There’s no advantage to leveling up besides a coin reward, but it’s an incentive to keep playing and to do different things. If you’re lazy and want to shorten the replay value of your game, you can always purchase coins in-app. There’s also a “counterfeit machine” that doubles the coins you collect in-game, if you do want to feel like you’re earning these items the old-fashioned way, but want to do it in half the time. At no point did I ever feel like I needed to purchase coins or the counterfeit machine, meaning this is just an option. Other games aren’t so kind.
All said, it’s the humor that sets the game apart. More than once, I found myself giggling from little references or dark humor. The first time you put together what two games in particular the “Profit Bird” vehicle references, you’ll likely chuckle. Items have some funny descriptions for no particular reason, which seems like something from an old Working Designs game. Then you see little things like the scientists who try to outrun your gunfire only to haplessly run into a “zapper.” There’s just a lot of things to love about Jetpack Joyride.
In a genre that has been done to death, you really need something to separate yourself from the pack. With fun mission objectives, a few clever jokes, and a lot of polish and charm, Jetpack Joyride turns out to be one of the best games to be released this year on iOS and the first to give Tiny Wings a run for its money in the genre.
About the Author
|Fade to Slack is a founding member of Delta Attack, an American expatriate in South Korea, and a true believer in the legitimacy of mobile gaming.
Keep up with him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Fade2Slack so he can justify having a Twitter account.
Fade to Slack has written 308 posts on Delta Attack.