Capsule Review: Jetpack Joyride

A one-button endless runner. Move to the right, gradually picking up speed, while holding the button/touchscreen to fire your jetpack and move up or releasing it to move down. Pick up coins and avoid a variety of hazards to keep flying as long as you can. That’s the core, and the game wouldn’t work if that didn’t feel good by itself. Thankfully it’s executed well, with the vertical acceleration making very satisfying curves as you weave between obstacles that come faster and faster.

On top of that are a number of systems that provide gameplay variety and longer-term goals - the keys to creating that “one more run” urge that keeps the player going. In levels, there are vehicle pickups that act a bit like powerups - they provide an extra hit point, as hitting an obstacle while in a vehicle destroys the vehicle but allows you to keep going. Each vehicle also has a different mode of vertical locomotion that is still controlled with a single button - for example, a bird that flaps its wings with each tap, or a suit that reverses gravity with each tap. There’s also a mission system that rotates through various side objectives to complete during runs, such as getting a certain number of near-misses with particular obstacles or traveling a certain distance without collecting any coins.

Between runs, you can spend your accumulated coins on alternate skins for the player character, the jetpack, or the vehicles, as well as an upgrade for each vehicle that increases its coin pickup radius. You can also buy one-use items like a self-revive or a boost that lets you skip the early part of a run - or win these effects in a post-run slot machine if you’ve picked up “spin tokens” during the run. On top of that are equippable “gadgets” that have different effects ranging from upgrades like turning some coins into higher-value gems to gameplay changes like creating speed-boosting hoops to fly through.

There’s a lot here, and it’s all well-tuned. The moment-to-moment gameplay is fast-paced and sastifying to master with enough variety to keep it fresh. Each run builds toward a broader goal, and there’s always another one to work toward. All in all, this is the best one-button game I’ve ever played and my favorite game to pick up and play for a few minutes and then find that an hour has gone by.

I Stopped Playing When: They changed the account system at the same time that I switched phones and I lost all my progress. However, in putting this review together, I remembered how much fun the game was and found that enough time had passed that it didn’t bother me so much to start over, so now I’m playing it again!

Docprof's Rating:

Five Stars: Favorite. This is one of my all-time favorite games that made a significant impact on me or that I've returned to time and again.

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