Developer: Halfbrick Studios
Platform: iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad
Price: $0.99 / £0.69
Remember that odd little game that went on for infinity? The one where you press a key to move your helicopter up, let go to float it down, dodging procedurally-generated walls, and getting bored in five minutes? Well, apparently it was such a hit and a classic that those mechanics have followed us through the years; never letting us rest; always looking over our shoulders for fear of seeing a helicopter bobbing up and down, haunting us to our grave…
Well, Halfbrick Studios decided to take on the challenge of using exactly the same one-button mechanic, exactly the same core gameplay and making it awesome. And make it awesome they did.
Hot off the heels of their hit Fruit Ninja (and numerous follow-ons), the studio has released their latest title— Jetpack Joyride. The main thurst of the plot is “you’re riding a freaking Machine Gun Jetpack!!!” And the gameplay does the storyline justice.
You can tap and hold to fire the giant twin machine guns strapped to “Barry’s” back, lifting him up in the air, and wiping out any headless-chicken-flailing-arms-type scientists below in the process. There are coins liberally applied about the place, in the shape of smiley faces, (not so) secret messages, and the classic “wall of coins”.
The AI puts electricity fields in your way, flies in laser arrays, and launches missiles at you, which you have to dodge, dodge, and well, dodge. But you never get bored, thanks to the stuff around the core gameplay they have added. Allow me to demonstrate…
Within the main gameplay, there are cool things to pick up. The first of these are the vehicles; 5 in total (and yes, these are their real names).
- The Crazy Freaking Teleporter puts you in a glass chamber and teleports you to a place on the screen when you tap.
- The Wild Hog gives you the chance to cruise on a beefy easy-rider. That springs into the air on it’s own. It’s custom.
- Lil Stomper lets you… ya know… stomp. It also bulks you up which allows you to pick up more coins, and has little booster packs you can use to slow your descent when you go for a high jump.
- Profit Bird, inspired by Tiny Wings, flaps itself higher with each tap, and greets coins with a gaping beak, all the while pooping out dollar bills.
- The Gravity Suit changes gravity when you tap, allowing you to walk on the ceiling, hover in midair, or… like… walk on the ground, I guess.
Oh— and did I mention you can’t die in a vehicle? That’s right. When you slam into a field of electricity, fry in a laser beam or faceplant into a missile, you just revert back to the Machine Gun Jetpack none-the-wiser, keeping the pace frantic, and fun-levels high.
The main incentive to keep playing for hours at a time before being pried from your iPhone by a loved one concerned for you health… is the Missions. They start off easy, to build your confidence — things like “Survive to 200m”, “Get 100 coins in one game”, or “High-five 10 scientists”. These then earn you stars which go towards levelling up. I’m not entirely sure if this actually helps you in any way other than massaging your ego, but this is welcome nonetheless. Of course, the difficulty of these missions, and how many stars are required to level up increase quickly, but Halfbrick have done a great job of balancing the Missions to your skill level; making them within reach, but not without some considerable effort. You know what they say… “all carrot and no stick makes jack addicted to video games”.
There are also Spin Tokens that appear ever now and then, floating around the screen daring you to catch them. If you manage to pick some up, then at the end of the level you can spin a slot machine in the hopes of winning more coins, a Head Start or even an explosive of some kind, ranging from “Quick Blast” to a full-blown Nuke, pushing you a few hundred meters along.
And then there’s The Stash itself; a place you can go to spend some of your hard-floated-into coins.
- You can buy stuff from the Clothing section… stuff ranging from a Grass Skirt to a Zombie Head, to customize your dude.
- There’s an array of alternative Jetpacks to play with.
- You can upgrade your vehicles in the aptly named Vehicle Upgrades screen, where you can buy shiny gold versions of each of the vehicles, or increase the likelihood of picking up your favourite one.
- There’s also a Utilities screen where you can buy “items”, for use in the game itself. There are a few tier-one items available in the Slot Machine, as well as unlocks for the current missions, in case you get stuck, o just can’t be bothered to complete that one that’s giving you grief.
You can also see your stats, achievements, and in-game purchase some coinage to make your life that much easier… or nice-looking.
So whilst the core gameplay may be insanely simple and easy to pick up, Halfbrick have succeeded in making this one game that’s nigh impossible to put down. And why would you want to? The crisp, cartoony graphics, pumping soundtrack, and ridiculously simple controls makes this one an easy recommend to hardcore and casual gamers alike.