You are Barry Steakfries: Nate Drake look-alike, coin collector, and experimental technology thief. Bored of his life in the ‘Secret Underground Laboratory’, Barry makes a one-way bid for freedom. He’s doomed of course, but don’t tell him. It’d break his heart.
One of the few iPhone apps to make the jump to PlayStation Minis, Halfbrick Sudios’ Jetpack Joyride certainly looks like a contender for the platform's crown (now a thing), with multiple iPhone game of the year awards proudly displayed on its iTunes page. The question is: does it make the jump to PS3/Vita/PSP well? For the most part, yes it does.
If you’ve ever played iCopter, or spent an afternoon at work browsing Flash games sites, you’ll be familiar with the concept. Barry must travel to the right, avoid obstacles, and collect items by flying with ‘his’ jetpack, getting as far as possible until he gets caught out. The obstacles in question are electric fences that are either static or spinning, and are never in the same place. There’s only one level, and, besides the start, it’s randomly generated and different every time. The further you progress, the faster the screen moves, challenging your reaction times without ever feeling cheap.
Projectiles spice up the gameplay nicely, and dodging both these and the fences is a real challenge, especially as the level speeds up. However, help isn’t far away. Occasionally you'll come across a vehicle power up, which spawns one of a handful of preset rides. These include, but are not limited to, Mr. Cuddles, the giant fire breathing mechanical dragon whose back you perch upon, Crazy Freaking Teleporter, that allows you to dodge obstacles with ease, and our favourite, Profit Bird. Clearly poking fun at their rivals, Rovio, Profit Bird resembles a character from mega-hit Angry Birds, and excretes dollar bills as it flies. The vehicle power ups are well implemented, with any fences or rockets in your immediate vicinity disabled, so you don’t instantly lose your power up.
Spin Tokens are another item that you can pick up. These can be invested in a slot machine at the end of each attempt, which rewards you with extra goodies. The prizes vary greatly, from extra coins, a power up to aid your next run, a bomb that fires your limp body another 200 meters or so, and a one use ability that enables you to continue your run.
Coins do play a role aside from adding to your score. There’s an impressive shop feature that gives you access to extra costumes, different types of jetpack, one use power ups, gadgets, and more. With an average coin per attempt of about 150, and with some items costing over 50,000, it’s clear that it was designed with iTunes micro-transactions in mind.
The misleadingly titled Missions are really just challenges that task you with high-fiving scientists, sliding on your face, and other similarly veined requests. Each challenge is worth up to 3 stars, which act as XP. Gaining levels requires a certain amount of stars, and we found this feature to be a driving force for replayability. Indeed, we found levelling up to be so addictive that when a malicious wasp found its way inside the house, it was ignored for a full 20 minutes as we focused on flying 300 meters with our head scraping the ceiling for the stars needed to tip us into the ‘experienced’ bracket.
Jetpack Joyride is a PlayStation Mini and, as such, it doesn’t boast any online support, which is a real shame as it’s crying out for some sort of ‘score chase’ mode, or at least a leaderboard to compare scores with friends. Fortunately, it looks pleasing, with bold sprites and simple animations reminiscent of the excellent Scott Pilgrim vs. The World tie-in on PS3.
Jetpack Joyride would be far more appealing as a PSN title, complete with Trophies, online support, and leaderboards, but as PlayStation Minis go, it's not to be missed. The bite-sized gameplay is perfectly suited to portable play, which makes it a great title to have installed on your Vita or PSP.