Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jetpack Joyride is Free, Pretty Good

It's slipped my mind, unfortunately, but last week when the Playstation Store updated, said update included Jetpack Joyride, specifically tailored for the Vita, for the all-too-tempting price of Free.  I'm not sure why - perhaps because it is another freemium title like the delightful Treasures of Montezuma Blitz (in that you can spend all sorts of money on coins and such if you desire) or perhaps because it was simply a late Christmas Gift.  I'm not sure, but it is certainly something to be thanked, to be celebrated, because the little game is something else, that is for sure.  I'm not sure I can even attribute it to the price being nothing (though it certainly helps) because in the very same update, in the Playstation Plus section, Chronovolt was also free and it is terrible.  But Jeypack Joyride?  It's quite a nice little time-sink when you've got a bit of time.

I'm well aware of Jetpack Joyride's beginnings as a simple Mobile game and that much certainly shows even now in this product, but that's not necessarily ever a bad thing.  Yes, we deride mobile games, usually for actual reasons, but sometimes their simplicity and charm end up with something that is just fun, much like this.  I mention charm specifically because there is quite a lot of it tucked away in the corners and cubbyholes of the game, from the main characters name being Barry Steakfries to premise simply being stealing a Jetpack to fly around in for funsies (hence the name) to the various little touches you'll see in the background and coin layouts.  This is clearly a game that was made with -care- and maintained in much the same fashion which is a respectable thing no matter what.

The way the game plays is rather simple.  It starts when Barry bursts through a wall, dons the jetpack and begins his funsies.  You're in a constant state of going right at a rate of speed which is not to you to decide and your only -real- input is whether you are going up or running along the ground.  Those of you familiar with Canabalt probably get that - the goal is simply to go right for as long as possible, dodging obstacles and gaining coins in the meanwhile.  Thus there is no way to 'beat' it, you simply aim to do a little better each time.  Perhaps knowing of its own simplicity, the game does add a deceptive amount of variety with the various tools it implements along the way.  The coins are an obvious one, of course - you use these to purchase upgrades, different clothes, gadgets, all variety of things to make your next run more enjoyable, more silly, or simply more suited to you.  The long-standing goal, by that virtue, is likely to simply buy everything available that is not a consumable, which is a task that will take some time to be sure.

Something that also adds to the experience is that you're not -always- piloting the titular Jetpack, but at times you encounter a power-up that will place you into the seat of another random vehicle or transportation device.  I've encountered six, which I believe is all of them in the form of the Hopper (a giant robot suit), the Anti-Gravity Suit (exactly what it says on the tin.  Think VVVVVV), a motorcycle that is pretty bitchin' (and comes with a shotgun that Barry will unload into scientists without mercy), Mr. Cuddles (a giant robot dragon), the CFT or Crazy Freakin' Transporter (I believe that's the name) and the Profit Bird, which is a robot bird plane thing that is clearly a riff on Angry Birds and it's -hilarious-.  Each vehicle has its own method of use that varies the gameplay up and they all have the benefit of being able to take a hit for you to be discarded so that you can continue your run beyond the one hit that you can take.  An upgrade you can slap on any and all of the vehicles is a magnet which will draw any nearby coins to it as you pass, so it can be quite lucrative to be in one as well.

I think the thing that's the best about the variety, the entrenching mentality of the game, is the Mission system.  You're given exactly three missions at a time, no less no more, that you will complete over a run or several.  Doing so earns you coins for your stash and Stars for your 'level' which, s'far as I can tell, doesn't really do anything but give you a new title and a new card with even more stars to fill before you level up again.  Every mission requires something -different-, some specific thing that is a meta-challenge you can assign to yourself whilst playing to ensure that you do, indeed, keep playing.  Simple things like "High Five Seven Scientists in a single run" which means 'run by scientists and see a flash and hear a slapping sound' or 'Brush by 10 Flashing Red Lights' are present and easy enough to do most of the time, where there are also clearly long-term things like "Collect 1000 coins." or "Collect 10 Spin Tokens" added into the randomizer.  The missions are not endless, I'm assured, but there is likely a lot and it's quite a lot of fun, actually, to see them through individually.

As if my Vita needed more things to tantalize me with, between the ever-alluring Youtube and Persona 4 Golden (at least), Jetpack Joyride has ingrained itself as something that I'm just going to find myself playing sometimes.  I won't know how, but I'll certainly know the why, which is simply that the game is fun and takes no real time to enjoy, though extended play sessions are nice to get those missions accomplished and such.  Because hey, this time it wants me to get on the motorcycle and stay there for 600m, and that sounds like a challenge I can accept.  Oh, if I get three hundred more coins I can upgrade the Profit Bird!  And so on and so forth.  So if you have a Vita and you have 32 MB of space clear (seriously, it doesn't need much), do yourself a favor and grab it.  It's free (unless you need like ten thousand coins right now), it's tiny, it's pick-up-and-play and it even has trophies right off without needing them patched in like the other freemium games that are out on the Vita.  It's simple, charming fun.

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