Tag Archives: slayin’

Jetpack Joyride – Review

Those scientists better watch out…

My iPod has been host to more of my gaming time recently and one of the reasons is Jetpack Joyride. This free game was developed by Halfbrick Studios and released last year. But before discussing the game, I want to address the Australian studio’s dramatic rise to prominence.

Founded in 2001, they spent eight years as a contract developer, mostly focusing on Nickelodeon properties. In 2009 they released their first original game and the following year they released Fruit Ninja. This was unbeknownst to me. It’s hard to believe that the studio responsible for one of the most popular games in recent years spent nearly a decade toiling on handheld versions of children’s properties. They’re the video game equivalent of a long-time musician who never “made it” writing a song that becomes a hit.

What is this? An encyclopedia entry for a game developer or a review of a video game? Sheesh…

… because the jetpack has a machine gun attached to it.

Okay, onto Jetpack Joyride. Each game begins with Barry Steakfries busting through a laboratory wall with a pilfered jetpack. If there was a goal to the game, it’s simply to fly as far as you can and beat your personal high score. What keeps me coming back and not wanting to put it down though is the multitude of short-term objectives.

Players always have three missions that they’re working on. When completed, they’re rewarded with level ups and money. The missions weren’t tough; they mostly required dedication. This made them especially alluring because I’d often think I could complete at least one before doing something else. Earned money could be spent on gadgets, costumes, and a mix of other items and the store itself is tiered so better items are unavailable until a specific number of lower tier items have been bought.

There were a few other vehicles, including the Crazy Freakin’ Teleporter.

As was the case with Thomas Screiber’s Slayin’, I feel that Halfbrick Studios was able to infuse a lot of character into a small package. The art direction and the in-game text were great, but the best part about Jetpack Joyride was its short-term reward system. I always had something to focus on, be it a new high score, completing a mission, or trying to unlock an item from the store and this system of short-term gratification kept me playing and playing and playing.

Advertisements

A Recommendation: Pixel Licker Games

The PSP/XBLA game Half-Minute Hero seems like a spot-on comparison.

While perusing the internet, I stumbled upon the website of Pixel Licker Games. Under this name, Thomas Screiber releases the games he makes in his spare time. He is an artist who started off in the industry working for Capcom in 2000. Since then, he’s worked for various companies and on a half-dozen video games including the Maximo series and My Sims, among others. He has a fondness for pixel art and this fondness is readily apparent in the three games he has made available on the website.

The only one I’ve played thus far is Slayin’. It’s a simple 2D game that tasks players with walking their knight, mage, or knave to the left or right, running into enemies to kill them. Characters can level up, spend their found money, and build a combo to get a high score. It isn’t complicated, but it does require skill, luckily it controls fantastically and is fun to play. The most awe-inspiring aspect of Slayin’ is its art though. Screiber’s talent is on display in this game that looks like it came out the 16-bit era. Scratch that, it looks better than most games of that era! You’d think that pixel art is a limiting medium, yet he’s fit a ton of personality into this, and from the looks of it, his other games. Of course, it’s with this and other types of restraints that were present in earlier video game development that forced developers to craft songs that were instantly catchy or design characters that were definitive, despite being made of pixels.

Hopefully more people will discover Thomas Screiber’s works, because he has a ton of talent.

Pixel Licker Games