My jetpack is a friggin’ machine gun. Really, I propel myself through the air by pulling the trigger. At least, that’s the idea in Jetpack Joyride, the free-to-play iOS game by Halfbrick, the lovely folks that brought us Fruit Ninja.
The concept is incredibly simple, the controls incredibly intuitive. Hold down a finger on the screen to propel yourself, release to descend. Your goal is to run, jump and fly as far as possible through a procedurally-generated laboratory, gradually gaining speed, while dodging obstacles such as missiles and zappers, and picking up coins and spin tokens.
If you’re an avid gamer, you might be thinking of a flash game right now that has a similar concept. There’s a few out there. None, however, reaches anywhere near the charm, smooth execution, and depth of Jetpack Joyride.
Let’s start with the charm. Upon first launching the game, you are greeted by a serene scene in the laboratory, various scientists in lab coats and masks milling about amongst a clearly experimental jetpack, adjacent to which is a sign that says “DO NOT STEAL.”
Tap the screen, and your character heroically bursts through the wall, immediately donning the jetpack and causing mass chaos alongside a kickin’ background song (that for some reason, I just haven’t tired of hearing yet).
The action begins incredibly slowly. A child could easily navigate the beginning of the game, which gives you plenty of time to avoid obstacles and plan your route as you blissfully sail over the heads of the panicked lab employees.
The game’s pace gradually increases to inhuman levels, where, at some point, you will inevitably mess up.
I’ve only scratched the surface. The coins that you fly over can be used to purchase powerups, cosmetic outfits and jetpacks, and “gadgets” that affect the game while they’re equipped. Examples include “Coin Magnet,” which increases the range at which you pick up coins, and “Insta-ball,” which encapsules you in a Pokemon-esque ball that bounces a few times after you die to give you some extra distance.
Pictured here is Mr. Cuddles, my personal favorite.
So where does the addictiveness lay? Missions. So many missions. You have three missions active at almost any given time. These missions could be to rub your head against the roof for 300 meters in one game, fly 1000 meters total in this or that vehicle, high five 50 scientists… there are a lot of different missions.
Each mission rewards you with 1-3 stars upon its completion, and stars increase your rank. Every time your rank increases, missions get harder and you’re given a sizable coin reward.
There are 15 ranks, but after you beat the fifteenth, you have the option of continuing on, starting again at rank 1, and with a shiny medal in your profile to indicate your dedication! As of this writing, I’m rank 31. I’ve beaten rank 15 twice and am still going strong.
So where are the downsides? All I’ve done is sing Jetpack Joyride’s praises. The unfortunate truth is that while the game is fun, simple, and addictive, it’s just not for everyone. You have to enjoy upbeat action and somewhat repetitive, if slightly varying, gameplay in order to enjoy this little gem.
The other main problem with the game rests there, as well: there isn’t enough variety. Mission variety is great, vehicle variety is great, but obstacle variety? Not so much. Technically, there are only three obstacles. If you don’t mind that, you should be downloading Jetpack Joyride right now.