Review: Jetpack Joyride (PS3, Mini)

Better late than never, (assumingly after stopping off to refuel his machine gun Jetpack), Barry Steakfries has smashed his way onto PlayStation systems.

Developer Halfbrick Studios, who’re possibly best known to console gamers for the super addictive fun that is Fruit Ninja Kinect on XBLA, have finally brought multi-award winning mobile blockbuster Jetpack Joyride to PlayStation; But does this latest version, ported over to PS Minis by Beatshapers, sky rocket like its mobile counterparts, or fall flat on it’s face?

This isn’t the first PlayStation outing for Halfbrick mascot Barry, the gun-totting undead-hunting everyman-come-unexpected hero, has previously featured in Age Of Zombies, a top down shooter which quite successfully made the transition from mobile to Minis whilst that distribution platform was still in it’s infancy, nearly 3 years ago now.

So, Jetpack Joyride – a trusted format of simple yet insanely addictive gameplay, fresh out of the hands of a time proven and award winning development house – is now available on multiple PlayStation formats. That’s only good news, right?
Unfortunately, as a huge fan of the previous versions of the game, not for me.

Gamers play as the aforementioned Barry Steakfries, a down on his luck door-to-door salesman, who just happens to stumble upon a secret laboratory. As you do.
After commandeering a jetpack and with heady dreams of become a modern day superhero, Barry has first to escape the laboratory before he can escape his mundane day-to-day life, and that’s where things get interesting.

You travel left to right, navigating what is, unfortunately for our Hero, an infinite corridor of lasers, electrified fences and missiles, with the sole aim of setting a new distance record.
In the traditional sense of the word, there is only one “level” in Jetpack Joyride, but with the placement of obstacles and collectables randomised on each run, you never really know what to expect, and have to keep your wits about you if you’re to react quickly enough to avoid the inevitable crash and burn for any prolonged period of time.

Gameplay is a one button affair, holding X fires your jetpack, sending Barry airborne – the skill involved in timing your blasts and carefully lifting off the gas when required is much more refined than it first seems though, and the ever-increasing speed of each playthrough means you’ll be dying to have just one more attempt at perfecting your technique and reaching that elusive high score, time after time.

Like Age of Zombies before it, launching on the PlayStation Minis platform means Jetpack Joyride is available to download on PlayStation 3, PSP & PS Vita systems, and being a direct port of a mobile game, it’s definitely best suited to the pick up and play quick fix that Sony’s handhelds provide. With it now being available in a whole myriad of portable formats, I really can’t see why anyone would want to play this Mini on their PlayStation 3.

The game’s charm is in it’s simplicity, and the way that’s presented. Unfortunately, it’s big screen appeal is hindered furthermore by stretched low-res graphics rather than the crisp HD sprites the likes of Jetpack Joyride on iPad feature;
The developers knew their market, and it’s quite clear by the way they play that Halfbrick’s games were, and continue to be, targeted at players on the move, who – Those looking for a quick burst of escapist fun on a commute, not those sat in front of a home console.

This only leaves me questioning why Jetpack Joyride is a Minis title and not a PlayStation Mobile frontrunner?

I absolutely love Jetpack Joyride on my Xperia phone, and highly recommend it to everyone with an Android or iOS device alike , unfortunately, the PlayStation Minis port brings nothing new to the table, and actually manages to strip away some of the features which gave the original it’s replayability, depth and longevity.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with introducing the new market of PlayStation gamers to a tried and tested formula – Jetpack Joyride didn’t need anything adding, it doesn’t need any tinkering, but, and here’s my first major qualm with the new release as a whole, if you’re going to re-launch a game which has been available to the mass market for a year and downloaded well over 50,000 times, you really need to be some sort of mad-scientist to justify the sudden inclusion of a £3.49 price tag to what was previously a free game, albeit supported by optional in-app-purchases.

The limitations set upon Jetpack Joyride by it’s being a Mini, rather than a fully fledged PSN store release or a PlayStation Mobile title, mean that it really does suffer in this re-release, rather than shine as it should.

Lack of network connectivity mean the aspect of social competitivity found within previous iterations has all but vanished; There are no leaderboards to be found, something which has been in the iOS version from the start and is promised in an upcoming Android update, and although Jetpack Joyride features it’s own achievement system, these are purely internal, and again, unlike its mobile equivalent, there is no social aspect to these at all – it’s impossible to compare with other players, even on your friendlist, for example.

I think it’s fair to say Jetpack Joyride would be a much better game had Halfbrick & Beatshapers brought it to PlayStation Mobile. The touchscreen features, network connectivity and trophy system are all screaming out to be utilised by what is an otherwise fantastic game.

Jetpack Joyride’s arcade style of bitesized fun means that it’s a rocket you should most definitely have in your pocket – and really is worth grabbing on your iDevice or Android for a game or three right now, but personally, I can’t even begin to recommend the inferior gameplay and ludicrously unjust price tag attached to this new PlayStation port – not when it’s costing you for what equates, in the long term, to a less enjoyable gaming experience.

PlayStation Minis have taken my money, and the result feels like a hijacking, rather than a Joyride.

Jetpack Joyride is available now via the PSN store for £3.49.

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Review: Jetpack Joyride (PS3, Mini)

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