If Jetpack Joyride was a celebrity, it would be a B-List model. Good looking, fun to be with in the short term, but ultimately a bit shallow and not something you'd want to spend the rest of your life with.
The object is pretty straightforward and instantly accessible. You control a character strapped into a jetpack. Your aim is to fly as far as possible into an enemy base, avoiding hazards, collecting coins and generally not dying. As soon as you hit a hazard, the game is over and the distance you travelled is your score.
Graphically, Jetpack Joyride looks really good in a pleasingly retro way. It's the sort of game that might have graced the Sega Megadrive back in the day. Graphics are crisp and clear and the main sprites as full of character and nicely designed. The visuals are cartoon-like in appearance, which makes the game instantly attractive. They are also full of cute little touches. If the flame from your jetpack hits one of the little men running around the base, for example, he will cover his eyes as he awaits his fiery doom. It's attention to detail like that which really shows how much care has been taken when putting it together.
Thankfully, Jetpack Joyride sounds a lot better than your average B-List Model. It's nothing revolutionary, but both the sound and music are appropriate to the game. A pulsating soundtrack pumps out in the background adding to the atmosphere, whilst various basic, but suitable sound effects populate the game; such as the ring of coins as you collect them, the explosive sound of rockets fired at you or the whining noise of lasers. Everything is entirely appropriate to the game suits the often frantic pace of the gameplay.
And it's in the gameplay that Jetpack Joyride really takes off. The basic objective is very simple: travel as far as you can. Naturally, things are not as straightforward as that and there are all sorts of obstacles to avoid. Bolts of fire hang in mid air, rockets are fired at you and lasers whizz onto the screen, requiring you to navigate over and around them. Hitting anything ends your game and the longer you survive, the faster the game and the more numerous the obstacles. The layout of levels changes with every game, adding a real sense of variety and making the game a test of your reactions, rather than a simple case of memorising level layouts.
Jetpack Joyride also has a few tricks up its sleeve to make it even more challenging. As well as travelling as far as you can, you need to collect coins that are scattered around. Spin tokens, meanwhile, will allow you a turn on a fruit machine game when you've died which can reward you with various things ranging from extra coins, through to reincarnation so that you continue your game from where you just died. Other tokens can be collected which give access to vehicles other than your jetpack.
At the same time, you are asked to pursue various Achievements. These range from the relatively simple (play three games) to more complex (avoid 12 laser bolts in a single game). As soon as you accomplish one, it is replaced by another, more difficult one, so that you always have a number of achievements to aim for.
These might not be major additions, but they make the game a lot more fun and help prevent the game from becoming repetitive too quickly. The addition of these goals and challenges adds some much needed variety to the basic formula and ensures you keep coming back for more.
True, it's one of those games that's a short term addiction. It's one of those games that you will play a lot when you first download it. It's a good quick game to play (the average game takes less than five minutes), so it's one you can boot up when you have a few minutes to spare. Of course, even with the extra challenges, the game does become repetitive after a while and you may find that eventually you start to get a bit bored with it. By the time that happens, though, you'll already have got value for money for your 69p download price and because of its simple, fun premise, you will return to from time to time to have another game.
The one issue that might put people off is the controls which are simple and logical, but take a little bit of getting used to. Pressing the screen causes your jetpack's boosters to fire so that you move up the screen; taking your finger off the screen causes your character to slowly descend. This means that you have to judge exactly how long to press the screen to fly over (or drop beneath) a particular hazard.
The first few games are a slightly frustrating experience as you need to get used to the in-game physics. Initially, you will frequently find yourself hitting hazards a lot because you misjudged the controls and pressed on the screen for too long or took your finger off too quickly. Within a few games, however, you get to know exactly how much pressure you need to exert. These first few games are critical: if you're prepared to persevere, you'll get used to the controls and discover the addictive little game that lies beneath; if you're not, you might switch the game off in frustration before you realise how much fun it is.
This is very similar in both theme and style to Chop Chop Runner, which I also have on my phone. Given how similar they are, you're probably only going to want to pay for one and I'd recommend Jetpack Joyride over Chop Chop. Both cost the same (69p), but Jetpack Joyride looks and sounds nicer, has slightly deeper, more varied gameplay and as such, has greater long term appeal.
(c) Copyright SWSt 2012