At first mention of Halfbrick, the first app that many of us think of is Fruit Ninja. It makes sense — Fruit Ninja was the developer’s first smash game, but its presence somewhat overshadows the existence of their other amazing iOS games.
One of these overshadowed games is possibly one of my favorite games of all time. The app, Jetpack Joyride, features Halfbrick’s flagship character Barry Steakfries as you go on a fun-filled journey through a science lab. Read on to find out why Jetpack Joyride is among my favorites after the break.
3 … 2 … 1 … Liftoff!
Getting started with Jetpack Joyride is as simple as, well, counting to three. Acceleration is automatic in this sidescroller, so all you need to worry about is moving Barry up and down on his jetpack to avoid obstacles and pick up coins. You do so using tap-and-hold controls — tap and hold to propel him up, and let go to allow him to descend.
The only time controls are altered is when Barry picks up a vehicle, which we’ll cover later in this post. Even so, the game’s controls are straightforward enough that you can pick up the game and be able to get the hang of it after a couple of minutes.
Jetpack Joyride boasts one of the best gaming experiences available for iOS. Perhaps one of its distinguishing features is a blurred line between campaign gameplay and free play. In other words, there is only game mode, but it has the characteristics of a campaign as well as that of any free play mode.
The campaign aspect of the game comes from the set missions. At any given time, there are three missions presented to you; they are typically simple tasks to complete, like collecting a certain amount of coins, high-fiving a number of scientists in a round or having a near-miss with a missile.
If you’re stuck on a mission, you can pay a few thousand coins to “beat” the mission via the Utilities section in The Stash.
As you progress, tasks get increasingly harder to complete. However, the harder a task is to complete, the more stars you earn from the task. Stars are attributed towards your rank; the higher the rank, the more stars it takes to rank up, but you’re also rewarded with more coins upon completion. When you rank up past rank 15, or Barry, you have officially completed the campaign mode of the game and your rank will reset back to Beginner.
Though missions are a large part of the game, the way that they are implemented throughout doesn’t make them obtrusive in the least bit. So if you wanted to play just for fun for a few minutes or just to beat your record distance, you can do so. The nature of this game allows for this flexibility between campaign and free play.
Basically, this flexibility between a relaxed and serious game makes Jetpack Joyride an app you’d want to come back to. It never gets old — I still have loads of fun even though I’ve played totally through the campaign four times. It’s also the type of game you can pick up for five minutes, or be able to play for hours on end; this gives it loads of replay value.
Every once in a while, you’ll come across a rainbow box with gears on it. These boxes contain vehicles that help Barry go farther into the lab. These vehicles are pretty crazy, and range from things like motorcycles to dragons to teleporters.
Each vehicle has its own control system that is relatively easy to figure out. While they do add a facade of difficulty to the game, they also can be really useful. The vehicle serves as a shield of sorts for Barry; if you run into a zapper or get hit by a missile while you’re in a vehicle, you are still able to continue the game sans the vehicle.
Upon picking up a vehicle, you’ll be returned to Barry’s original speed, which makes them perfect when you need a speed break. Be careful, though — the speed picks up really quick in vehicles.
Shopping Trips and Bonuses
When flying through the lab, you’ll see large, beige colored coins in the air on occasion. These are called Spin Tokens, and they allow you to win some awesome bonuses at the end of each game. The Spin Tokens are used as a token for a slot machine; each token equals one play at the machine. You’ll either end up empty-handed, or win bonuses like a free 750-meter headstart, coins worth double the next round or a blast that sends you flying another few feet.
There are also many different ways to spend the coins that you collect while flying. The Stash, which is the game’s store, comes packed with tons of different things to buy. Somethings are much more practical than others — utilities like head starts or quick revives will come in handy much more often than a new outfit for Barry. Still, a brand new jetpack or outfit every once in a while is pretty cool.
What is a science lab without inventions? One of the newest additions to Jetpack Joyride are the gadgets. That’s right — the inventions that were created in the lab are now available for you to purchase straight from The Stash.
Essentially, gadgets make the game a little bit easier by allowing you to do things that you wouldn’t be able to do normally in the game, like making missiles easier to dodge and destroy, or spawning more coins. The only catch is that you can not upgrade to the higher tier gadgets until you have purchased a certain amount of gadgets beforehand, and gadgets can run you thousands of coins each.
Gadgets can be very useful when trying to complete missions. Equipping the right gadget at the right time can make completing missions much easier.
Jetpack Joyride is by far one of the best applications to ever grace the iOS App Store. Beautifully addictive gameplay never loses its edge — even if you’ve played through the campaign several times. The several twists in the game make each round different, rendering the game fresh even after hundreds of plays. The graphics are also awesome, and look great both on Retina and non-Retina devices.
To be honest, it boggles me how Jetpack Joyride is offered for free. The game has this completeness that many paid apps don’t have. Plus, the game is being updated all the time, so there is always new content. That being said, I’d recommend Jetpack Joyride even if I had to shell out $1, $2, or even $3 for it.