From Halfbrick Studios comes a cave flying-style game with the power to keep you playing for many multiple hours. Jetpack Joyride takes the best from jump-and-run-style games and mixes in a host of achievements, missions, store upgrades, vehicles and more, crafting a game that looks phenomenal and will keep you doing "just one more joyride" dozens of times in a row.
Epically enough, things start out with the game's protagonist, Barry Steakfries, busting through the wall of a secret scientific research laboratory. If you watch the backstory video, you'll understand why, but who needs plot when your last name is Steakfries and you've got a jetpack made of machine guns? Tap and hold the screen to move Barry upwards and release to gently fall down. Controlling this up and down shifting is key to mastering the game's movement physics, and only when you get that down will you get anywhere. You fly from left to right down an endless corridor littered with zappy lasers, homing missiles, buzzing electricity fields, and scientists scattering on the ground below. Stay away from anything that looks dangerous and you'll get to see some fast-moving things of beauty down the corridors of the lab.
Here's where the game slaps some meat on the bone: missions. Each time you take a joyride you'll be assigned three missions you can complete, each with a star reward listed at the bottom. They range from the simple "fly this far" to "get this many coins" to the rather crazy, and there are dozens of them to discover. Complete a mission, get some stars, level Barry up, and you'll get coins. Add those coins to your loot and you get to visit the game's store where you can buy upgrades, power-ups, items, and other cool gadgets.
There's more to jetpack joyriding than bad things that kill you, of course. Pick up tokens during your flight and you can use them in the slot machine when you die, offering the chance for bonus distance, coins and more. Vehicles can be grabbed along the way by touching boxes floating in the air. You'll randomly get shoved into one of the game's many contraptions, ranging from a mobile teleporter to a bird that eats coins, a gravity suit, a motorcycle, and more. Vehicles give you a slightly different set of physics to deal with, but they also let you absorb a hit without dying, which is always a good thing!
Analysis: For such a simple, retro-ish game, Jetpack Joyride inspires pages upon pages of praise. Halfbrick hit a really sweet spot with this mixture of physics flying, power-ups, items, achievements, and general in-game awesomeness. Most games, especially casual ones, tend to focus on one hook that draws you in and another that keeps you interested in more. With Jetpack Joyride, the former is the game's "one button" simplicity, but the latter is far from a single element and includes things like achievements, a robust "stash" store, upgrades, and loads more.
In-app purchases are a part of Jetpack Joyride's arsenal, but honestly, they're completely optional and really don't add much to the experience. You can spend real money to buy in-game currency so you can get the Rainbow Jetpack and whatnot, but that takes the replay value out of the game, so it sort of defeats the purpose. One purchase you should strongly consider is the counterfeiting machine that doubles each coin you grab. Worth the tiny asking price, and it really enhances the game!.
One minor disappointment: jetpack upgrades (as well as clothing purchases) are only cosmetic and offer no difference in gameplay. Sure, the Rainbow Jetpack looks cool and spits out rainbows and the Laser Jetpack burns scientists who happen to run into its terrible beam, but the price for each 'pack is high, it seems like some non-visual bonuses would be in store as well.
Jetpack Joyride is a phenomenal mobile iOS game that mixes a little bit of the old with a generous helping of the new. It's got attitude, it's got style, and it's got enough content and challenge to keep you running back for more, hour upon hour of joyriding in that sweet little jetpack.
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.