Big Ant Studios and Halfbrick Studios bring another mobile transplant to the PS Vita, PSP and PS3 with the immensely popular, Jetpack Joyride. Developed by Halfbrick for Facebook it roared across Android and Apple devices and eventually to Sony’s portable and home consoles. BeatShapers released a pay version of the game in Fall of 2012 and Big Ant Studios brought us a new, free version in December of 2012.
The game at its core is a simple running game; guide Barry the gramophone (see also really old record player) sales man through a top secret laboratory with the aid of a machine-gun jetpack. That is to say, a jetpack which propels you with the shear force of belching out a stream of bullets. While the only control you have is move up and drop down by touching the screen and releasing, the game provides some enjoyable challenges and lessons in pattern recognition. Various power-ups, vehicles and cosmetic items can be utilized to enhance gameplay as well as a cash shop to purchase in-game currency via the PlayStation Network.
Here’s what we liked:
Infectious Pick-Up and Play - Flying across the screen snagging coins and being blown up is just mindless fun. The pacing of play informs you that you will crash, explode and start over again. You shouldn’t feel bad about flying Barry into missiles or zappers, in fact it is encouraged at times. Once you get familiar with the game and get on a good run, avoiding destruction, you will see Barry zips along at a blur. You know you’re going to eat laser, electric or explosive death, it’s just a matter of when and how. Progress is not the point of Jetpack Joyride, and we’re okay with that. It is truthful in it’s advertising, it is a joyride. You will not experience a system throwing fit if Barry gets blasted, you just start over.
Missions, Costumes and Gadgets - Collecting coins while flying about a somewhat secret laboratory is fun and all, but would grow tedious, if it was without motivation. An endless stream of missions gives you specific tasks to rank up and gain levels, which then gives you larger bundles of coins as a reward. You can then use the coins gained through the missions to upgrade vehicles, buy gadgets and cosmetic pieces to dress Barry up. This process, when paired with the easy-going gameplay, will keep interest levels peeked for a long time to come.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Rear-Touch Pad Control – Truly the worst part of this version of Jetpack Joyride, and the only critique, is the default use of the rear touchpad for control. The overly sensitive rear-touchpad was confusing at first, as it made the the game seem as if though it was malfunctioning. But the rear-touchpad has yet to impress as an intuitive tool for PS Vita. Often it is thrown on as gimmick or an attempt for a developer to say “rear-touchpad utilized.” We here at PSNFans look forward to the day that the touchpad is uniquely and seamlessly integrated into the functionality of a game (we’re looking at you Tearaway). Fortunately you can switch to the front touchscreen control if the rear pad causes you issue (which it will).
Jetpack Joyride captures a sense of classic arcade gaming in the modern era. It evokes the same compulsive feelings of playing games like Pac-Man or Dig-Dug while still feeling modern, slick and funny. It may very well be this generations “quarter munching” arcade classic – though no quarter is necessary, just the appropriate gaming device.
Score: “Buy” It!