Review by SneakTheSnake

"A runner for mobile devices with a few nice twists."

I don't think mobile gaming has hit its maximum potential yet, but we're getting there. Developers have hit a gold mine with this onslaught of quick, pick-me-up gaming experiences, and yet few seem to risk developing adventures for smartphones. However, in this canon of simpler games - runners, jumpers, movers, shakers, shooters, whatever you're doing - there can be a few that attempt to do something more. Jetpack Joyride is one of those games; it's a sleek runner-style action game with plenty of depth and extras to boot.

You take the role of Barry, an employee in a lab who's become a bit disgruntled at the workplace. At the start of each run, we see him break out of a laboratory and steal a top-secret jetpack. Each run has you moving continuously forward in your jetpack, and it's up to you to avoid obstacles in your path. Secondary goals include commandeering bonus vehicles like a tank and a gravity suit, collecting coins, collecting slot machine tokens and many other smaller goals. There really isn't much to it than that, and I suppose there really doesn't have to be.

Like Temple Run and many others before it, Jetpack Joyride does not require you to move Barry in any direction; he simply moves forward automatically, and about all you control is his movement up and down. If you get hit once in your adventure, your jetpack explodes and you're sent flying haplessly down the corridor until you lose momentum and stop right in your tracks.

I've never been especially good at Jetpack Joyride, but I enjoy it because of its varied objectives. Unlike Temple Run, Jetpack Joyride has players going for specific objectives during their run, like collecting a certain amount of coins, tripping up a number of scientists with your jetpack's exhaust, traveling a given distance in one of the special vehicles and so on. It sounds a little pedantic, but it really helps in adding another dimension to the gameplay. Each objective is worth either one, two or three stars, and earning a certain amount of stars levels you up. This unlocks progressively more difficult objectives and nets you currency. The money you earn by level-up bonuses, as well as by simply collecting in the field, can net you power-ups, character skins, special items and so on.

This is the most in-depth runner I've played, period. It isn't saying much, but it's true. With its level-up system and high level of player customization, Jetpack Joyride has a lot going for it. Not only is there the RPG-like aspect of earning “experience points” by good gameplay, but you can equip assist items to help you net longer distances or complete specific objectives. If your objective is to collect 1,000 coins, for example, one can equip the coin magnet to nab more coins or perhaps an assist items which turn some coins into bonus gems. If your objective is to travel 2,000 meters, one can buy a 750m head-start boost to make the distance all the easier. There's a lot to this game, and the game is kind of without end, as Jetpack Joyride can be played with a New Game + option ad infinitum, complete with all items you collected in your previous run-throughs.

I enjoy Jetpack Joyride a great deal, both in its gameplay and in the interesting gimmicks surrounding it to support it. The runner as a genre is shallow by nature, but JJ gets as much mileage out of the formula as it can while innovating on top of it. It works not only as a good game but as a fine mobile game. What's perhaps best is that, although there are microtransactions to help net bonuses faster (argh!), the costs of the items in the game is not so high that one can't net them oneself with a reasonable amount of grinding (Woohoo! Down with unfair in-game prices!).

The game looks and sounds good also. The spritely 2D graphics are colorful and bright, and the game exudes a great personality. My only gripe is that the backgrounds are a bit too flowery and detailed for their own good, and they can sometimes prove distracting. This is especially the instance with the “foliage” background; it's hard to tell where the player is in relation to the lasers and other hazards littered throughout the playfield. The music is dramatic and cheesy - just as a game like this, one which doesn't take itself too seriously, should be. It sets the mood well, from the smooth menu music to the fast-paced in-game music.

I can wholeheartedly recommend Jetpack Joyride. The gameplay is fast-paced, the level-up system keeps things interesting and the aesthetics are top-knotch. This makes for a great mobile game, and its pick-up-and-play nature fits well for newcomers and experienced players alike.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/07/12

Game Release: Jetpack Joyride (EU, 09/28/12)

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