I haven't stopped playing Jetpack Joyride except to eat, drink, and work.
I just returned from my car, where I had left my Vita charger, because for the second time in as many weeks I have played Jetpack Joyride until my battery ran out. I knew that the Vita was low, but I thought I could get just one more game in before having to juice it up again. My point is that since it released on the PSN for free, I haven’t stopped playing Jetpack Joyride except to eat, drink, and work. (Admittedly, the game has sometimes been combined with those activities.)
Jetpack Joyride is an endless runner (see: Canabalt) where you play as Barry Steakfries, donning a Machine Gun jetpack in order to an evil science facility. You might remember Barry from Halfbrick’s earlier games Monster Dash and Age of Zombies. The game plays a lot like that Helicopter Game from the olden days. Touching either the backscreen, the front screen, or a button (on PS3) will make Barry ascend. Releasing the screen/button will make Barry descend. There are six vehicles that are available to be picked up during your run. Each one makes the game play differently and allows you an extra hit before you go down for the count. The point of the game is to fly as far as you can, collecting coins and spin tokens whilst dodging various hazards as the game scrolls faster over time.
The most common hazards in the game are floating electric line segments known as zappers. Periodically, missiles will shoot at you from the right side of the screen or lazers will fire in patterns that you have to dodge. Spin Tokens float up and down the screen every once in a while. Collecting them allows you to spin a virtual slot machine at the end of your run. The slot’s prizes include blasts that boost Barry a bit farther, passive upgrades that affect your next run, and bonus coins. In between runs, you can visit “The Stash” to spend your coins on a ton of different items. Clothing, jetpacks, vehicle upgrades, single-use utilities, and gadgets can be purchased for use. The clothing and jetpacks are mostly aesthetic, while the vehicle upgrades and gadgets have long-term uses. Up to two gadgets can be equipped a time, imbuing Barry with abilities such as falling faster (Gravity Belt), attracting nearby coins (Coin Magnet), and disabling some zappers (Dezapinator). Swapping gadgets and making unique combinations is one of the many draws of the game. Along with buying things, you also gain levels by completing missions.
During each run, there are always three missions to be completed. Some missions are to be completed over time (High Five 55 Scientists), while others can be completed within one run (Brush Past 18 red lights). The missions not only add a bit of spice to how you play the game, they also add to your overall level. Each mission is worth 1-3 stars and each character level requires a certain amount of stars to level up. If the game’s main objective (flying as far as possible in one run) wasn’t alluring enough, the missions will have you playing Jetpack Joyride for quite some time. I’ve completed all of the missions and prestiged, resetting them in order to achieve them once more. The game also supports a lot of in-game achievements. They won’t count toward your PSN trophy level, but they’re yet another reason to keep on playing the game in new ways. The game’s timer keeps counting as long as the game is open (even if the Vita is asleep), so I guess it’s not too embarrassing that my time spent in game is at 5D, 22H, 22M, 37S. I’m level 26 with a best score of 6,160M. Speaking of best scores, Jetpack Joyride does feature online leaderboards so you can compare your best run with friends and the PS Vita-owning world over.
Since the game is free, there are a handful of in-game purchases that will save you some time if you’re dying for more coins. The purchasable items include a Counterfeit Machine (which permanently doubles the coins you collect) for $2.49 and various coin packs ranging from 20,000 ($1.49) to 1,000,000 ($13.99). There are enough trophies, achievements, and missions to keep you playing without having to spend real money. I can’t hate on the freemium model if it allows publishers to release a game for free, especially when it’s a game of Jetpack Joyride’s caliber. I know I’m about a year and a half late to the party (the original game released on iOS back in August 2011), but I’m delighted that Jetpack Joyride has landed on a Sony console. The only negative things I can say about the game are that the graphics don’t seem to be touched up and there’s a bit of slowdown when the screen is densely populated. Button controls would have been nice on the Vita, too. These infractions haven’t kept me from playing Jetpack Joyride during most of my free time. That gold trophy (buy everything in the shop) isn’t going to earn itself, you know!
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
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Developer:Big Ant Studios, Halfbrick Studios
Release Date:December 2012