Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Jetpack Joyride (PlayStation Vita) Review

At long last, Barry Steakfries is back.  From what?  Some other games I never played before, but that's not the point!  The point is, Barry is back in all his suit sleeve ripping goodness!

Jetpack Joyride soars its way onto the PlayStation Vita, and though it's been on other platforms for a bit, the PlayStation Vita version was my first go at it.

Basically, Barry is a gramophone salesman who stumbles across a not-so-secret scientific laboratory.  With sales at an all time low, he decides to steal an experimental Jetpack and go for a spin to live out his dream of fun and freedom.

The game is touchscreen-based, and basically pressing an holding on the PlayStation Vita's screen (front or rear, depending on your setting) has Barry rise or lower in this side scrolling adventure.  As you navigate the laboratory environments, you need to avoid such obstacles as Zappers, Lasers, and Missiles, and each game has its levels randomized to add to the navigational challenge.

By collecting Coins as you progress, you can ultimately buy items in The Stash.  These items range from new outfits for Barry to other versions of the Jetpack to disposable items (such as an extra life or 750 metre head start) to the most important thing of all: Gadgets.

Barry can have two Gadgets equipped in any game, and Gadgets can really give you an edge.  They can be something simple like Air Barry's, shoes that allow Barry to jump a little higher, to a Coin Magnet that allows you to more easily collect Coins.  You can also get a Missile Jammer that makes those pesky Missiles far easier to dodge, and a De-Zappinator that randomly causes some Zappers to fail, removing an obstacle in your path.

Generally speaking, you're score in the game is the distance you've traveled, and you're trying to get as far as you can before you die.  The further you get the faster the game world zooms by making things harder and forcing you to react that much more quickly.

As you progress you can also collect Final Spin tokens, which allow you to partake in the slot machine mini-game when you die.  Prizes to be won include Coins, an extra life, a Head Start for your next game, a little bomb to give you a bit more distance added to your current run, etc.

Not only does Barry use the Jetpack he steals, but there's also several vehicles available in-game.  These vehicles are used by touching a Vehicle block scattered throughout the levels, and can range from a motorcycle (the Bad As Hog), to a Teleporter, to a mechanical dragon (Mr. Cuddles).  It's always random, and you can get a Gadget to see what the vehicle will be before you touch it, but you can't change what it will be.  Not only do vehicles let you cover ground in good time (or slow things down allowing you more control), but they also give you an extra hit.  Touch a Zapper and your vehicle is destroyed, but Barry is fine and back on his Jetpack.  Thus, proper use of vehicles will allow your run to go that much farther.

To keep things interesting, the game also throws in Missions for you to complete, which allow you to earn Stars which allow you to level up and get a bonus in Coins.  The Missions can range from finishing a game at a certain distance to having a near miss with "X" number of Missiles to crashing a vehicle about five times.  There's a good bit of variety in them and they can force you to broaden or limit your play style, adding to the game's replayability.

When I downloaded Jetpack Joyride, it was (and may still be) free-to-play, which is great.  I've spent about 14 hours with the game and I'm not tired of it yet, as it's simple and enjoyable in its casual fun.  For those looking for a boost to quickly get more Gadgets or items, you can purchase Coins with real money, but that's your choice as you can also grind for them with enough patience (as I'm doing).

As a free game, Jetpack Joyride is a wonderful experience that's simple to play and hard to master.  Both skill and luck play into how far Barry will go, and there's lots of cool unlockables and humour to keep you coming back for more.  There's also several Trophies to unlock, many of which aren't that difficult, to pad your PlayStation account's level a bit.

All of the above serve to make Jetpack Joyride an easy recommendation, even if it's sold at a modest fee.  The game is just that much fun and well worth your free time.

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