Review: Jetpack Joyride (Sony PlayStation 3)

jetpackcoverJetpack Joyride
Publisher: Big Ant Studios
Developer: Halfbrick Games
Genre: Side-scrolling action
Release Date: 12/31/2012

Halfbrick Games has been on kind of tear recently. Fruit Ninja has become a bonafide part of pop culture at this point, and the praise Jetpack Joyride received at the time of its iOS release was pretty substantial. Sadly, we PSN users tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to getting such games. You could get it as a Mini, but for a far greater price than others were being asked to pay for mobile devices.

Enter Big Ant Studios, who decided to release the game as a free to play title. Best of all, all of the content is there, unlike some other FTP games. Players only spend money if they want, and only to get boosts. That’s the way to go.

Anyway, a free game on PSN means I’m on the case! Let’s find out if this latest release of a mobile game is worth your time.

Jetpack Joyride is actually the third game to star one Barry Steakfries. Of course, you needn’t ever have heard of him before to play this game. The setup is as simple as “There’s a jetpack and Barry steals it to go on a joyride through an underground laboratory!” Honestly, that’s it. From there, you play as Barry and ride that sucker until you crash it. Then, you do it all over again.

jetpack3This simple setup would seemingly make Jetpack Joyride a very shallow game, but that’s misleading. It goes the extra mile to shake things up. At any given time, you can have up to three missions to complete while you’re blasting around. These range from narrowly dodging certain projectiles and crashing vehicles to running on foot and high-fiving scientists. Completing these missions earns you stars, which level you up and unlock tougher missions. Each rank brings higher cash totals that can be used to purchase a number of goodies. You’ve got cosmetic changes such as costumes, and there are also gadgets that can used to tailor your experience. For example, you can equip a gadget that causes you to fall faster, or another that sucks in coins if you as you get close to them. There are also boosts that can be bought to give you a head start, tack some distance onto your tally, or even give you a second life. There’s a lot to buy. I’ve been playing for hours upon hours, reached over level one hundred, and I’ve still got a lot of stuff to clear out.

Presentation-wise, the game is simple and effective. There isn’t much variety, but bright colors make each obstacle and vehicle stand out from each other. The same song plays every time you play the game, but it’s kind of catchy to be honest. It’s nothing special, but it works well enough.

From a control standpoint, there’s only one button to worry about. Pressing any of the face buttons or the D-Pad inputs fires up the jetpack. Holding down the button causes rapid ascension, while letting go causes rapid descent. The game is responsive and works well.

Those missions I mentioned keep the gameplay changing in interesting ways. For example, your mission might be to avoid collecting coins for a certain distance. This changes how you move about the level, in that you’re actively avoiding something you’d normally go out of your way to grab. The gadgets you equip will also vary, depending on your goals. For example, I usually go with the coin magnet and the gadget that causes some coins to turn into more valuable gems. I’m all about the money. For such a mission as described above, keeping the magnet is a big problem. I might equip a gadget that helps disable some obstacles, or another that focuses on collecting tokens. If a mission requires me to walk on foot for a good deal, equipping the shoes that give greater boost off the ground could prove useful for dodging low obstacles. You get the idea. That’s the interesting thing about this game. Despite the fact that all you do is fly left to right and avoid getting hit, the gameplay still manages to change throughout the experience.

When you inevitably fall, you’ll be given the chance to play a game of slots, provided you collected at least one token while flying about. You can gamble these to win a variety of prizes, including extra coins, a second lease on life, or even just more tokens. If you’re not feeling lucky, you can simply cash in your tokens for a small cash reward.

jetpack2It’s worth mentioning how insanely addicting the game is. I downloaded the game about a week after Christmas. I had seven brand spanking new games to devour from that holiday, and instantly put them all on the back burner so I could spend hours at a time on Jetpack Joyride. I’m talking about personal favorites like UFC Undisputed 3, Batman: Arkham City, and X-Com Enemy Unknown. That’s some lofty company. I’m in no way saying that Jetpack Joyride is better than those games, or that it necessarily deserved my time over them, but I just couldn’t help myself. Playing through one round can take at most a few minutes, so it becomes very easy to justify just one more go around, especially if you’re really close to completing a tough mission. According to the stats, I’ve played hundreds of games in a matter of days. There was honestly one day where I did nothing but play the game and occasionally take a break to read a book I was hooked on.

Jetpack Joyride also holds some serious appeal. At times, there have been three or more people in my house playing the game on various devices at once. There was my brother on his iPod, my sister on her phone, and me on my PS3. We took turns boasting of our progress and comparing records. I think the only other game the three of us have agreed on was Call of Duty.

So where’s the catch? Why is this awesome game available for free? Well, the publishers seem to be hoping that people will love the game so much that they’re willing to spend real money on in-game coins to purchase in game items. That’s not to say that the in-game stuff is unreasonably priced so as to encourage real purchases. Rather, I felt what was offered was pretty fair. This is one free game that doesn’t really have a drawback.

The bottom line is that is a FREE game with plenty to offer. I can’t think of any decent excuse for someone not to download it and start playing immediately after reading this review.

Short Attention Span Summary

Jetpack Joyride is just as good on the PS3 as it is on the mobile devices (I have indeed played both). It’s a simple game with surprising depth and responsive controls. It has a surprising amount of replayability, and there are a number of goals to reach for as well as trophies to earn. Best of all, the game is totally free. There is simply no good reason to not head onto PSN and pick the game up.



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