Video games are often complex and extravagant creations. Gone are the days when simple falling blocks kept us entertained. Or are they?
When Jetpack Joyride appeared on EU PlayStation Plus recently, I figured this was the chance to play through Australian developer Halfbrick Studio's side-scrolling jump-'em-up. This game is simplicity itself: progress from left to right by using one button to avoid oncoming obstacles. Yes, one button. One!
Playing as the sole character Barry Steakfries, there are but two objectives to fulfil with your single, one hit kill life. First, simply travel as far as possible along the level before meeting your inevitable demise, and if you feel adventurous, secondly, aim to complete a number of "missions" by interacting with specific environmental objects as they come rushing by. By completing the missions, Barry levels up and can eventually be made prestigious, with a silver PSN trophy and a nice in-game badge as reward for his efforts.
The position of life-ending barriers in Jetpack Joyride is random, so no feat of memory can see you to the goal. Each and every game is different, which is just one of the elements that makes this such an addictive title. As you traverse the level, Barry's speed becomes gradually quicker, until your reactions are simply unable to keep pace with the moving scenery and our plucky hero is returned to the starting blocks. If score chasing is your thing and you, like me, have the impulse to next time make it just that extra one meter further, be prepared to spend your next few hours in 60-90 second bursts of fun filled jetpacking!
Transformers, Bazza in disguise
Besides the trusty back-pack-booster, there are a small number of vehicle types, again randomly placed, to aid our man along. Each of them, whilst maintaining the single button control approach, function in unique ways and add a welcome level of variety to keep your progress interesting. A single hit destroys the vehicle, leaving you to proceed on foot until the next vehicle pick-up comes along. If you make it that far.
Throughout each level, gold coins appear in clusters for you to collect, all pooling towards unlockable perks and costumes from the in-game store. Vehicles may be pimped with gold plating and Barry has a number outfit options, though the real function comes in buffs, any two of which may be applied before each new run. I quickly found a combination that worked for me, though the 5km-travelled milestone remains illusive for now.
The remaining occasional collectable is a spin token, which grants a possible one-hit perk at the post-life fruit machine. Extra coins, invincible head-starts and distance boosters ease the frustration of your once lightening reactions having let you down for the 200th time this session.
10 LOAD "Jetpack Joyride"
20 PLAY for a few frantic moments
30 CRASH and burn
40 PRINT "Awesome. Go again."
50 GOTO 10
10 minute bursts of all-ages, score chasing, arcade action. Play this game once and you're all in. I guarantee it.