A few days ago I got to take a look at Jetpack Joyride at PAX and I have to admit that though my time with the game then was short, it instantly made me want to check out the full game when it released. Well lucky for me my timing was so good that I didn’t have to wait long. But outside the convention center and away from the watchful and helpful eyes of the kind folks at Halfbrick, how would the game feel at home and on a long term basis?
Well, let me tell you one thing right off the bat. The reason this is coming out today instead of yesterday when I got the code is because I couldn’t stop playing it when I first got it. Read on to see why.
The biggest difference between my time with the game last weekend and now is that at PAX I played it on an iPad, while at home I only own an iPod Touch. This wouldn’t change much but it did bring with it one big difference. While the more compressed size didn’t change the difficulty or fun of the game, the fact that you have to constantly touch the screen to fly means that no matter where I was pressing there was a pretty good chance that my finger was obstructing part of the view.
I eventually settled on mostly using the small area right behind the main character Barry, though even this wasn’t always perfect. It’s a minor annoyance, but definitely worth mentioning. Though this does tend to come with the territory of playing games on the smaller iOS devices.
Similar to other one-button games, the goal of Jetpack Joyride is very simple: avoid the stuff that wants to kill you and try to get as far as you can. This is all done by touching the screen to activate the jetpack and navigating around the missiles, electric fences and lasers. Scattered around the randomly generated levels are masses of coins which are used in the in-game shop to purchase new outfits and jetpacks for Barry as well as permanent power-ups and gold skins for the vehicles and one-time use powerups.
Yes, in addition to a jetpack you can randomly gain access to one of a few special vehicles that are pretty awesome in their own right. These are collected with a random token that will appear on the screen with the one you’re given randomly selected. These include an awesome motorcycle, a two legged mech, a crazy teleporter and the funniest to me: a flying red bird that well…poops money. A nice playful jab at a certain popular franchise to be sure, with familiar sound effects to boot!
One more random item will occasionally appear as you progress through the levels in the form of a spin token. Each one of these you collect will give you a spin on a slot machine at the end of the level which will award anything from bonus coins to one of three different sized bombs that will send your body flying a little further, or even one of the power-ups such as double coins on your next run or a second chance (which lets you resume where you left off).
To keep you motivated the game features a progressive mission asking you to perform various tasks for bonus coins. You always have three at a time and they’re seemingly given to you at random. These range from simple tasks like “collect 200 coins in one level” or “reach 500m”, to more difficult tasks that might be vehicle specific, require dying in a certain area, etc. These missions when combined with all the other random elements of the game made me keep playing “just one more game” many times over, as I was positive I just needed to try ONE more time to get that last thing I missed.
Each mission you complete gives you a certain number of stars, which go towards leveling up your “rank” through different titles. Each one requires more stars than the last, and filling one up gives you a big chunk of bonus coins. I actually played the game so long that I completed all of the missions. I was a little worried when I noticed no new ones appearing, but after completing the last one I also reached the final rank.
Thankfully the game gave me a little medal for completing one round and rolled me back to the beginning rank (though the level number continued to go up) and started me over on the missions. This is nice, and I hope it keeps going on endlessly just because I felt this all added a nice level of depth to an otherwise simple game.
Jetpack Joyride is a very fun, simple and addictive game. While each playthrough is more or less the same, the randomly generated levels and all the various unlockable in game items will keep you coming back for awhile just to get a LITTLE bit further. I still need to unlock about half of the jetpacks and I’ve barely touched on the various outfits Barry can wear. Even once you’ve unlocked all the items, you can purchase some of the in-game powerups using coins as well, so there’s always something to spend them on.
I had a ton of fun with the title, and the fact that I was able to get so far only speaks to the fact that I just couldn’t put it down. I think I’ll be returning to this one for awhile.