Most people would just steal a car...
Endless runners are nothing new, nor are the endless flyers that came after. This means that any new Endless Runner has to have something really special to get noticed.
Halfbrick's Jetpack Joyride is one of those special titles. But it's not immediately obvious. All you do with the returning character of Barry Steakfries, physically, is press on the screen to move up and let go to move down. That's pretty much it. There are no on-screen buttons to press or left and right controls and no bombs or extra weapons. It seems all too simple.
Except it isn't. While your initial stolen jetpack offers a simple choice of higher and lower altitude with the press of the screen, power-ups are never far behind. Hit one of the floating glowing boxes that you'll find about a minute in to your game and your jetpack is transformed. Will it be a huge motorbike? A gravity suit or even a strange chunky green suit that gives you an almost random direction to go in? All of these and more are possible.
The choice of ride adds a huge amount to the control of the game and changes the way you play. But you'll need to keep your wits about you because there are also a huge array of obstacles in your path. Lasers try to cut you in half, electrified beams shock you and missiles wind their way towards you at an alarming rate. The game warns you of impending doom, but all it takes is a split second to wind up on the floor next to bemused scientists.
Even when the game ends any tokens you've picked up go towards playing a fruit machine that may just offer you a way back in to the game or, at the least, some coinage. Yes, like many other games on the App Store, Jetpack Joyride uses coins. You can buy useful upgrades, items to help you start the level quickly and even better jetpacks, but you can also buy completely superfluous costumes, glasses and items from other Halfbrick games. They aren't needed for the game, but just you try resisting buying that geeky pair of glasses. There is even the option of the dreaded In App Purchase to allow you to buy more coins without doing all the hard work (or having fun).
As an endless runner style game, Barry's adventure is kept track of and your maximum distance is displayed on screen in the menu. Openfeint and Game Center keep track of the score and compare it to others who have played the game. Achievements are present too, but it's the in-game missions that make the most difference. Just like in Tiny Wings (a game Jetpack Joyride pays homage to with one of its many power-ups) you get three tasks to complete in addition to getting as far in the level as possible. These range from gaining a certain number of coins to getting a power-up three times. They all give you stars once completed, which help you level up your status.
Little touches in the visuals add to the charm of the game, from a stumbling scientist to the photo that you get at the end of each run. The game even lets you save these to your photo album. While it's not the prettiest game in the world and the scrolling can be difficult to focus on when going a certain speed on the iPad, Halfbrick's game has so much appeal visually that it would be hard to fault it. What I find more surprising is that this game works on anything I throw at it. Second generation iPods seem to play it fine and the iPhone 3G doesn't break into a sweat, even during times when everything is flying at you on screen.
For a game which is seemingly so simple in design, Jetpack Joyride is a rare treat. It's lovingly put together and charming to boot. The collectable Stash, Missions and the nature of the game itself all come together to make this an easy recommendation for game of the week, if not the month.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 10
- Longevity: 10
Page 1 of 1