Halfbrick Studios just launched their latest iOS app today: Jetpack Joyride, another crazy game featuring Barry Steakfries. Poor Barry, stuck in a dead-end job, was headed for another day at the office when he noticed some scientists working on a machine-gun jetpack in the lab. (“Do Not Steal!”) Well, that was too much temptation. Now you get to fly through the top secret lab, collecting coins and avoiding zappers and missiles, all while piloting the machine-gun jetpack from Monster Dash. I got a peek at it at PAX last weekend, but since then I’ve spent a bit more time exploring the game and it’s a blast.
Jetpack Joyride is another entry in the one-tap, get-as-far-as-you-can genre of games, similar to Monster Dash except that there isn’t a separate “shoot” button. You just tap anywhere on the screen to turn on the jetpack, firing down at the ground and lifting off into the air. As with Monster Dash and Canabalt, the further you go the faster you go. You dodge electric zappers that float in the air (some rotating), plus missiles that enter from the right side of the screen, and occasional lasers that appear.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Barry Steakfries game if there weren’t some over-the-top power-ups, and Halfbrick doesn’t disappoint. I mean, the jetpack in itself is already over-the-top, but you can grab vehicles, which also act as a shield, protecting you from one hit. There’s a walker/robot, a Gravity Guy suit, a “Profit Bird” (in a nod to the Angry Birds juggernaut, it eats coins and flies by shooting dollar bills out of its butt), the motorcycle from Monster Dash, and the Crazy Freaking Teleporter — probably the most difficult of the bunch to maneuver.
There’s a whole layer of achievements and missions on top of the game, too. Throughout the game you can collect Spin Tokens, which give you a spin on the jackpot after you die. The prizes range from an extra life (putting you back in the game) to bombs that blast the knocked-out Barry just a little bit further along. You can also collect coins, or a Head Start which gives you a 750m boost at the start of your next game.
After each game you get a screen showing you some stats about your game, a snapshot taken during your game, and a slide-out tab that shows your three current missions. The missions are sort of like achievements, but at any given time you have three assigned to you. Some are simply about collecting a certain number of coins, some challenge you to go a certain distance in one of the vehicles, or you might need to high five a number of scientists in the game. Complete one and you earn some stars, and another mission is assigned to you. Get enough stars, and you level up, which earns you bonus coins.
Of course, the best reason to collect coins is so you can spend them somewhere, right? Head to the Stash, where you can buy various different heads and outfits for Barry, different jetpacks (like the Bubble Gun jetpack or the Rainbow Jetpack), and some other useful items. You can upgrade the vehicles with coin magnets, and you can also buy Head Starts, Small Blasts, and extra lives. Also, you’ll note on this screen that there’s a button for “get coins.” Yep, that’s for in-app purchases, where you can spend real money on fake coins, to buy digital accessories for a video game character. Not my favorite sort of thing, but the app is only 99 cents for a universal app (works on the iPad and iPhone), which is a great price for what you get. Plus, you can play the entire game without buying any coins — it’ll just take you longer to amass your fortune.
I have to say: the machine-gun jetpack was my least favorite weapon in Monster Dash, because I wasn’t really good at using it and tended to fall into pits quite often. I was a bit hesitant about a game that was based around it. Having played it now quite extensively, I’m sold. For one, this one doesn’t run out of bullets at inopportune times. Also, Halfbrick really went all out to make Jetpack Joyride a really great-looking game. The little details in the backgrounds are fantastic, and the game is pretty intuitive to play. It’s really obvious which things you need to grab and which things you should avoid.
Even though it’s a pretty simple run-and-jump game at its core, this spin on it is really well done, and very addictive. I love the mini-missions, which give you little variants while you play. Oh, now I should get as far as I can on foot. Now I need to rub my head on the ceiling for 1000m. There are still regular achievements which are tracked in OpenFeint and Game Center, but the rotating list of 3 missions is a nice touch.
The attention to detail is awesome, too. As you fly through the corridors, the little scientists in clean suits run around frantically. You don’t have to avoid them — they’re not armed or anything, but the animation on them is terrific. Some of them will cower and hide, some will run into zappers and knock themselves out, and some will simply flee in terror. Should you choose to fly over them instead of running past, you may take a couple out with the machine-gun. The different types of backgrounds that you’ll fly past have plenty of fun details, too. In some corridors there are lighted sections that shatter and fizzle out when you shoot them; one area has polished floors that crack if the bullets hit them. You’ll pass labs, cityscapes, and even rooms with huge piles of coins, Scrooge McDuck style.
As I mentioned, I’m not a fan of the in-app purchases, but if you want to spend the money you can buy your way past some aspects of the game. It might be nice not to have to earn all the money to buy the goofy accessories, but I feel like you really should have to complete the missions instead of being able to throw cash at them.
Overall, the game is a lot of fun. If you’re a fan of the run-as-far-as-you-can genre, you should definitely give Jetpack Joyride a spin.
For only 99 cents FREE for iPhone or iPad, it’s a pretty good deal.
Disclosure: Halfbrick provided an advance download for review purposes.