REVIEW: Jetpack Jinx [iOS]
Title: Jetpack Jinx
Platforms: iOS, Android (played on iPhone)
Developer/Publisher: Bubblegum Interactive
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Mobile games that stand out usually have A) an unusual level of depth and polish, B) a viral social aspect (a la Draw Something for the 17 seconds it was super popular), C) Angry Birds in the title, and/or D) some weird or different hook.
Jetpack Jinx turns the endless runner genre on its ear – literally. Instead of running from left to right, you’ll be steering your character from bottom to up. And it’s very well-crafted. And it’s FREE.
Upward, ever upward.
You play the role of a fallen alien named Jinx, who must soar from the ground of some planet (actually starting in an underground cavern) back into outer space.
To accomplish this feat, you’ll tilt your device of choice left and right to steer Jinx as he soars up, up and away. After an initial blast-off or leap, you’ll have to collect jewels and assorted power-ups which will power your flight further.
Miss a patch of jewels and you’ll fall allllllll the way back down to the last starting point. If you happen to get lucky and snag one as you being to fall, you’ll start your climb again. You can also bounce off of enemy heads – in fact, sometimes there won’t be any jewels around and you’ll have to bop a baddie to reach the next cluster of shiny fuel.
With multiple “levels” to play (each unlocked when you’ve reached a certain height marker), you’ll find yourself dodging baddies and carefully steering your little buddy through clusters of jewels for way longer than you may have intended to play when you first fired up the game.
I have to say, I was skeptical at first.
“Great, another mobile runner. And you have to collect multicolored jewels along the way. I’ll bet there are ‘wacky’ powers that help you extend your runs, too.” At face value, it seems generic. Jewels stacked vertically? Calls to mind visions of those ubiquitous puzzle games like Bejeweled.
I was fully prepared to be underwhelmed.
Then, I wasn’t.
I was fully whelmed – overly, even! – by how hard the game grabbed its claws into me and refused to let go.
As a game reviewer, playing Jetpack Jinx did the best possible thing a game can do. It made me stop playing for review purposes and playing for fun. This game is no chore. While I give every game an equal chance to win me over and play each quite a bit (whether I’m enjoying myself or not), rare is the game that makes me feel like I’ve just lucked into something I’m going to be keeping around looooooong after this review is done and published.
Jetpack Jinx is wonderful. The art is lovely, with charming, well-drawn characters and lush backgrounds. The power-ups are cute, funny and very helpful. There’s an adorable dragon, a rabbit in a hat that creates a temporary shower of jewels…a laser helmet.
I’ve actually been inspired to buy things from in-game store, hoping they’ll give me a better chance of making it one level closer to space. The only time I bought anything besides clothing or vehicle upgrades in Jetpack Joyride was when a game mission mandated that I “BUY 10 BOMBS!” or something like that. Not so with Jetpack Jinx.
It’s actually not a chore to build up your coinage while you play. I wanted fuel boosts. I wanted helmets. I wanted more than just cute bandanas or glasses to customize my critter…I wanted items to help me during play.
“The worst thing about endless running games on, say, an iPhone? That your finger’s constantly blocking part of the screen. Annoying, right?! Not here! No fingers involved, friend!”
Maybe I’m alone in usually ignoring power-up purchases while playing games, but…this game sucked me in completely. (You can, of course, buy coin packs with real-life money, should you wish. Hey, it’s not like you paid for the game!) It’s just so playable! The worst thing about endless running games on, say, an iPhone? That your finger’s constantly blocking part of the screen. Annoying, right?! Not here! No fingers involved, friend!
You just tilt your phone back and forth. You can stabilize with one hand and slowly tilt with the other. You can hold your phone out flat, or upward, or at an angle…whichever you deem most effective and most comfortable.
The steering is responsive and I’ve never felt that any deaths were the fault of anything other than my own failure to dodge an obstacle or baddie as it fell toward me. This removes one of the (ahem) touchiest parts of the mobile gaming experience, and I love it. Also, you can warp from one side of the screen to the other, Pac-Man-style.
So, Jetpack Jinx is more of an endless flyer with motion controls.
The challenge level is just right, and you’ll never feel like surpassing previous records or reaching the next level is impossible – even though you’ve died many times trying to do so.
It’s just a remarkably well-made, clever twist on a familiar genre.
(Get it? Twist? Indeed. Heh.)
You’re in for a mindless-but-engrossing game that will keep you coming back again and again. You can play for long periods of time, or just squeeze in a flight or two while you have a minute to kill. It seems simple because it is, in the best possible way. Simple not as in too easy, dull or uninspired; simple as in intuitive and free of frustrating intrusions.
There are (of course) challenge missions to unlock as you play, which add extra dimensions to your flights. You can replay levels you’ve already defeated. As I mention earlier, you can buy adorable clothing customization upgrades and helpful power-ups from the in-game store.
Indie developer Bubblegum Interactive, right from the opening loading screen with its The SIMS-like status messages, sets the stage for a likeable, light-hearted adventure…and delivers.
Jetpack Jinx is still on heavy-rotation in my mobile gaming library. It’s an absolute winner, and far from the generic, tired experience I had feared coming in.
“[T]hat there is…a checkpoint [ahead] is great. It’s not ‘endless,’ in a way. [Y]ou have more incentive to keep playing because you’re racing toward the next level…and you’re eventually going to GET there. Cool.”
It takes the best parts of a familiar genre, adds some gameplay twists and a bright coat of paint, and creates something refreshing and addictive. The idea that there is usually a goal or checkpoint you’re heading toward is great. It’s not “endless,” in a way, so you have more of an incentive to keep playing because you’re not just going for the highest score/altitude. You’re racing toward the next level, one step closer to an actual, concrete goal: SPACE. You’re not just in space the whole time, then it’s over. You’re heading up toward space, and you’re eventually going to get there. Cool.
As such, you get absorbed. Jinx isn’t just some lifeless, crappy nothing character you don’t care about. You’re not just steering him, you’re rooting for him!
E.T. FLY HOME!
Enough. You get the point.
Stop reading and try Jetpack Jinx for yourself. It comes highly recommended. And, game designers? I also highly recommend you keep that whole “responsive, finger-free steering” concept in mind!
UP UP UP!
- Responsive tilting gameplay means your finger’s not in the way the whole time you’re playing
- Bright, attractive, charming art
- Multiple levels/checkpoints means it’s not so “endless,” giving you a concrete goal beyond missions/high score
- Power-ups and pets that actually do help you out and may entice you to buy a coin pack.
DOWN DOWN DOWN!
- I could use another pet or two, not that there’s anything wrong with the dragon.
- Why can’t I share my scores to Twitter? @JetpackJinx exists!
Jetpack Jinx is free-to-play, and available on iOS and Android devices.
Nothing but cartoon-y fun. Rated 4+. Play on, kids!