TL:DR: Jetpack is a throwback to the Golden Age of video games. It's not flashy, but it's darn fun!
Jetting past the pack
In the mid-1980s, a generation of kids was begging their parents to purchase a ZX Spectrum in hopes of being able to play the most popular game at that time, Jetpac. To these kids, Jetpac was a revelation. To parents, it was the plague. The addictive and explosive qualities of this otherwise harmless piece of coding hooked a generation. OK, so we’re getting into some deep nostalgia flashback here, but what the heck. The hours I spent playing the game, with bubble-eyed manic expressions, merits more than just a sentence or two.
To these kids, Jetpac was a revelation. To parents, it was the plague.
But then it started to get a bit crazy, as the more kids played, the more addicted they got. There were players who had refined their skills and were able to fly about effortlessly while shooting in all directions. And anyone who survived past the insurmountable 15th wave would be describing their ordeal later – at great length with the most anxiety-induced detail. Thirty-plus years later the iconic gameplay has made its way onto Steam under the similar moniker: Jetpack.
OK, so what exactly is Jetpack? Basically, you cruise above a scrolling view of the planet’s surface rescuing Earthly inhabitants and finding parts to rebuild your ship. When I was younger, my friends and I would refer to this style of gameplay as ‘loopers’ because it did not have a traditional ending like many games have now. Instead, you played for as long as your skills and reflexes would allow.
The battle screens are a mishmash of psychedelic fun, colorful explosions, with small blips and beeps that act as background effects.
In addition, you also have to defend yourself from various alien attacks. You can collect valuable resources that drop from above which can help in completing certain levels. This is especially useful when things start to get really chaotic. The Steam version of Jetpack features an updated remake of the original as well as a modern version similar to that of Defender.
Points are merely a means to get extra lives and special perks. Surviving is the name of the game, and as you’d expect, things get progressively harder the further into it you go.
Graphically, Jetpack is a faithful reproduction of all that is good and retro. The battle screens are a mishmash of psychedelic fun, colorful explosions, with small blips and beeps that act as background effects. A minor quibble I had was in the controls. On a dual analog controller, I couldn’t always push my guy up. I’m not sure if this was due to the limitations of the screen or the limitations of the jetpack effects. You can also play with the keyboard, but this takes more than a little getting used to.
If you loved the original Jetpac, or enjoy fast-paced games like Defender, then do yourself a favor and buy this game. The gameplay may be old-school and it obviously doesn’t offer the latest in 3D graphics, but it is fantastically addictive, immersive, and fun.