APP OF THE DAY: Jetpack Joyride review (iPhone)
There are only so many app-based games that have the makings of a modern classic. Released at the tail-end of 2011, Jetpack Joyride is one such title.
We're a little bit late in singing Jetpack Joyride's praises, but if it's not a title you've heard of until now then here's your chance to go spoil yourself with some modern-day arcade action that's so addictive it's right up there with apps of the year, not just "of the day".
Jetpacks don't need much selling; they're cool. Michael Jackson, James Bond - they've all had a go. Other games are no stranger to jetpacks either - the giddy excitement of finding the jetpack towards the end of Grand Theft Auto IV, or the tricky controls in Pilotwings 64 - so JetPack Joyride is already on to a winning theme.
Joyride is essentially a "runner" game, or that's the slightly made-up genre we're going to label it with. Your character busts through a wall and is launched headfirst into oncoming electric walls, rockets and other nasties in the ever-changing scenery of an underground laboratory full of frantic scientists running around like headless chickens.
Joyride's goal is simple: stay alive for as long a distance as possible. One strike and you're out.
To achieve the distance you'll need to have swift reactions. Each tap on your device's touchscreen will fire the jetpack - which, to start with, is made from a machine-gun, no less - thus launching your character upward, before gravity takes its toll and pulls your man back down to earth.
Obstacles can be scattered around various portions of the screen and, while easy enough to avoid at first, it's the game's increasing yet variable speed that makes it tricky to keep alive for more than a few hundred or thousand metres. It's easy to slip up, but that's part of the fun.
At set distances throughout the level are special vehicle power-ups that will randomly award a bonkers-but-fun vessel. There's a teleporter, anti-gravity suit, snaking dragon known as "Mr Cuddles", the coin-hungry "Profit Bird", a Robocop-style armoured suit known as Lil Stomper, and a Harley-esque set of wheels. Each has its own special feature - whether a huge jump, ability to walk on the ceiling, reverse the controls, and so on - as well as it adding a first line of defence, ie, an extra (explosive) hit before the game's over.
Jetpack Joyride is built around only one level. Which may sound absurd, or even boring, but as it sticks to classic arcade stylings and adds in a variety of increasingly difficult goals it's far richer than it may first sound.
Coins scattered throughout the level can be gathered and used to buy upgrades that range from mere aesthetics to far more useful ones, such as the gravity belt which speeds up the downward pull of gravity. Other items - such as jetpack upgrades - are essential to complete certain goals. After all, it's not possible to fly over scientists using the machine-gun jetpack without, well, causing more than a bit of a kerfuffle; that won't achieve the "kill no scientists" goal now, will it?
There's enough within Jetpack Joyride to keep you coming back for more - not that we'll give every detail away. Completing every task is an essential, but it's the "how far can I get?" drive that's the real pull...