Halfbrick, creators of the extremely popular Fruit Ninja, aren’t strangers to the side-scrolling “how far can you run” games that star Barry Steakfries. Monster Dash was released last year and it added a little bit of spice to the “how far can you run” genre by not only adding monsters and multiple environments, but weapons as well. One such weapon, the Machine Gun Jetpack, seems to have inspired Halfbrick so much that they decided to create a new game revolving around it.
Jetpack Joyride stars Barry Steakfries who breaks into a secret laboratory and decides to not heed the warning of the “Do Not Ride” sign that is propped next to the Machine Gun Jetpack by taking it for a spin. The gameplay mechanics for Jetpack Joyride are a simple one-touch interface. Touch the screen to make Barry rise, let go of the screen to make him drop. It’s a mechanic that anyone can understand which means probably anyone and everyone can play this game.
Barry’s joyride will require him to collect a number of mysteriously floating coins, spin tokens, and vehicles all while trying to avoid obstacles such as strategically placed zappers, lasers, and rockets. Coins can be used to purchase a number of game enhancements from “The Stash.” The Stash allows you to purchase clothing for Barry, such as a lab coat or zombie head. You’ll also be able to purchase new jetpacks, such as the Bubble Jetpack, which instead of raining bullets, will rain happy little bubbles, as well as purchase vehicle upgrades that you can have magnetize each vehicle to help collect coins with less effort, or bling them out in solid gold to show the fleeing scientists Barry enjoys the finer things in life. The last section of The Stash, called Utilities, allows you to spend your coins on a number of items that will give Barry a head start, revive him when he dies, or give him a post-mortem blast to gain just a little more distance.
If you happened to stumble across a spin token you’ll have a chance to acquire bonuses through playing a game of slots when Barry is defeated. How many spin tokens you collect during play will determine how many chances you’ll get to win a prize. The prizes are worth the trouble of hunting down the spin tokens as Barry can be revived with the “Second Chance” prize, or you can receive 1000 coins if you happen to match 3 of the same icons.
There are a total of five vehicles Barry can pick up during his adventure through a ridiculously long secret laboratory. The vehicle power-up will randomly decide between five vehicles: Bad as Hog, Gravity Suit (an homage to Gravity Guy), Crazy Freaking Teleporter, Profit Bird (an homage to Tiny Wings), and Lil Stomper. Each vehicle offers a different tweak to the gameplay mechanic, but they all still use the universal one-touch mechanic. When Barry is damaged while in a vehicle, it will break apart and Barry will return to his trusty jetpack. In a way, the vehicles not only offer a brief change of pace, but they also shield Barry from dying.
Jetpack Joyride adds an additional layer of replayability in its leveling system. You’ll be given three missions that can be completed during play. Some missions can be easily completed, such as high-fiving 10 scientists, while others will require a bit more dedication, like the mission to reach 1500m without picking up a vehicle. When you complete a mission, you’ll obtain a certain number of stars that go towards leveling yourself. Each time you level up, you’ll strive to earn the next one as you’re rewarded each time with coins. The higher the level, the more coins you’ll receive. Once you reach and complete level 15, you’ll be given the opportunity to earn a special badge of honor. If you decide to accept the badge, you’ll continue leveling up beyond level 15, but you’ll have to go through all of the missions from level 1-15 all over again.
The game’s graphics have a high quality 16-bit era feel to them. Barry and the scientists all look and react great to their surroundings. Vehicles in the game are also nicely animated. During Barry’s travel through the laboratory, the environment will change from a metal and cold laboratory, to various other locations like clear, underwater tunnels and warehouses with boxes scattered about. Special effects like explosions and electricity zaps all look great.
Whether you have an iPhone or an iPad, Jetpack Joyride will not only play on both as its a universal iOS title, but it also features a save data feature through OpenFeint that allows you to take your current game to another device. All of your coins and upgrades will be transferrable, but I noticed my hard earned stats and the current missions I was trying to complete on my original device wasn’t transferred. This made me favor my iPhone more than my iPad as all I could do on my iPad was earn some more coins. When you consider how fantastic this game is and how awesome it is to have some kind of save data support, this certainly is a minor complaint to have.