Jetpack Joyride (Facebook) review
A long time ago, I told myself that I would never play a game on Facebook. All of that casual crap like Mob Wars, FarmVille, and Poop City is repulsive to me, and I can't grasp why anyone would want to actually play something from companies like Zynga, and even go so far as to monetarily support those bad, bad people. I told myself I would never play a game on Facebook, and I meant it. And then Jetpack Joyride was ported from iOS to the social networking site.
Jetpack Joyride is a special little gem. The game retains everything that made it a spectacular mobile game, and it all translates into your computer's browser. The first thing you should know is that Jetpack Joyride isn't just another running man game. Yes, all of the basic runner game tropes are there: Your little guy runs automatically and you control his jumps. That said, it's all of the little intricacies that developer Halfbrick Studios has thrown in that really make this a rewarding package.
As protagonist Barry Steakfries runs automatically from left to right, you need to power his jetpack by tapping either the left mouse button or the space bar. Holding down on either will propel Barry for a longer amount of time. Littered across the stage are several obstacles such as lasers, missiles, and electric beams. It's up to you to avoid these by going over or under them. The longer Barry runs, the faster he goes, and the trickier it becomes to navigate around obstacles.
Coins are scattered everywhere, and collecting these adds something absolutely wonderful to this runner game: It actually makes you think less about reaching a certain distance and landing on the leaderboards, and more about collection. That's something not seen in the genre, and it makes Jetpack Joyride feel more like a video game than most other running man games, which are often mere time sinks. Collecting coins is essential if you want to snag some sweet rewards. Want a jetpack that shoots bubbles? How about some new threads for Barry? Perhaps you'd like to buy some sick kicks to help the little runner get a jump boost. You'll find plenty of options at the in-game store.
Aside from collectible coins, there are also tokens that can be redeemed once you meet your demise at any given time. These tokens are used to win different rewards via a post-game slot machine. Prizes range from extra coins to a last chance, which tosses you back in the game and lets you continue until you inevitably crash into a missile or electric beam again.
During your runs you can utilize several vehicles. While I'm not fond of the gravity suit, which lets you switch between running on the floor and roof akin to VVVVVV, I found every other vehicle to be impressive. You can ride a motorcycle, a dragon named Mr. Cuddles, and even a mech. These are just a few of the vehicles in Jetpack Joyride, and they add to the game's pleasant variety. It should be noted that if you're hit while riding one of these vehicles, Barry will go back to his regular form, but he'll still have one hit left.
To add to the addictive nature of Jetpack Joyride are missions that really push you to play just one more round, only for you to realize that an hour has passed. (The other night I told myself that I would play a few sessions, and I ended up going to bed at 4:30 in the morning.) Missions range from collecting a set number of coins in a single play session to riding a random vehicle a certain distance. The higher your rank, the tougher the challenges get. Nothing is ever too imposing, though, and even if a specific mission is kicking your butt, you should be able to tackle it after a few tries. Completing missions earns you stars, and once you collect a certain amount of stars, Barry will level up. It's ridiculous how addictive and cathartic it is to chase higher ranks.
As amazing as it is, Jetpack Joyride still has a few minor quirks. Some missions aren't challenging at all, and the randomness of the world can make for inconsistent runs. Even then, this is still a truly incredible experience, and it's worth a play by anyone with a Facebook account, from the casual gamers who play those stupid Zynga games to the core crowd that loves more traditional games. This is just such an inviting and wonderful experience that it would be impossible for me to not recommend it to the masses.
Jetpack Joyride on Facebook is free to play, and despite the fact that it doesn't take anything away from you (except your time), it gives you so much to enjoy. As of this writing, I've technically "beaten" the game twice, finishing all of the missions, and I'm on my third play-through. I've sunk five hours into Jetpack Joyride, and I'll probably sink several more. I'm compelled to play the missions repeatedly, buy some swag for Barry, and score some achievements. Also, hearing crisp chimes as I rank up never gets old. Jetpack Joyride is easily the best runner game to come along, and it goes without saying that it totally kicks every other Facebook game's ass.
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