Too busy to devote 12+ hours a day to your gaming habit? Here's a review that's sensitive to your needs: Short and focused on just the things that a busy gamer like you really needs to know.
Reviewed On: iPhone. Universal iOS app also optimized for iPad. Due soon for Android.
In a Nutshell: Infiltrate a secret lab, Canabalt-style, in this action platformer. You control a dude who busts through a wall in a jetpack and maneuvers through the seemingly endless side-scrolling structure while trying to beat missions that range from trivial (high-five a few scientists who populate the lower part of the screen) to insanely difficult (traveling a long distance without dying or collecting a single coin).
Learning Curve: You can pick up and learn Jetpack Joyride in a minute or two, though it may take quite some time to master. But that's all part of the fun.
You activate your jetpack to dodge deadly obstacles by holding a finger against the touchscreen and release to fall earthward. There are other modes of transportation, including a powersuit called the Stomper, a Gravity Suit that lets you walk on the ceiling and a newly added robot dragon called Cuddles. Each controls differently and protects you from insta-death when you're struck by an enemy missile or fly into a zapper or laser attack.
The Save Game: As with all good mobile apps, the game saves anywhere if you quit. Normally you'll play a session for a minute or two traversing an in-game distance of a few thousand meters before running into an obstacle. It's hard to go much longer per run unless you are simply amazing at it or luck into random token spins that resurrect your fallen hero. Inevitably you'll crash and burn and then jump right back in for another run. But if your phone rings or you need to stop abruptly, don't worry - you can pick up right where you left off.
Family Factor: Reasonably tame, though you do shoot and crush people. When you start, your character is wearing a machinegun jetpack (which is, in fact, was the working title of the game!). So you basically mow down the helpless scientists who wander along the ground beneath you as you travel through the facility. Once you earn a few coins, you'll be able to switch to less violent modes of transportation - including packs that emit bubbles, steam and rainbows - but you will inevitably crush folks from time to time using the various vehicles in the game.
Buy or Skip? Only $1 for one of the best mobile games ever? Just buy it! You'll get your money's worth and more.
On a Personal Note: I'm not a huge devotee of this style of game, but Jetpack Joyride is so well engineered to make you want to complete "just one more mission" that I have a hard time putting it down.
We've been fans of developer Halfbrick Studios since we stumbled upon their race and puzzle platformer Raskulls at PAX Prime 2010. And while we enjoyed slicing some produce with our fingers in Fruit Ninja, it didn't inspire the sort of long-term commitment that this has.
After completing all of the missions in Jetpack Joyride (three are active at any one time), you get a medal and then start the game all over again - and I did just that. You also can see how your friends are doing on Game Center and try to beat their high scores.
We're not normally all that competitive, but this game makes you want to keep trying for a greater distance, higher rank, achievements and all of the jetpack and vehicle upgrades (bought with coins you collect when you're not trying to avoid them for a mission). There's just so much depth and fun here for what seems like it ought to be a rather shallow gaming experience.
The first free game update added new elements, notably a new robot dragon vehicle. If Halfbrick keeps this up, we might save a ton on mobile app purchases. Because this is all I've been playing on my phone for the past two weeks. And there's no end in sight.
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