Recently launched on Nintendo Switch, JCB Pioneer: Mars is a survival sandbox game by indie developer Atomicom. The game offers gameplay that is pretty similar to No Man’s Sky, only that it is based on Mars and doesn’t include outer space travels. We tried out the game for a few moments, so here is our JCB Pioneer: Mars review!
It is now 2067 and the protagonist, you, offer yourself to visit Mars in order to prepare the red planet for future human colonization. However, things don’t go well as expected. All kinds of extreme situations such as meteor strikes, dust clouds and electrical storms threaten your life and chances of a successful colonisation effort. Survival is the first goal, you will then need to establish and expand your base with resources.
As you may notice from its name, the game collaborates with JCB, a real-life company that manufactures industrial construction vehicles. The heavy-duty construction and mining vehicles are specially designed by JCB Engineers.
The Game Features
JCB Pioneer: Mars begins with a tutorial to guide you through the basics. First you will need to retrieve your JMC X18 vehicle and scan the area to find the nearest Hab. You will then be given a series of repairing tasks that ask you to travel to a few places (which are pretty far) for the required materials.
The game may start off slow and boring that will probably turn off some of you immediately. However, it gets more interesting as you complete the tutorials and are free to explore the planet. Don’t expect meeting any aliens or intense actions such as gun battles though.
The JMC X18 will be your main vehicle in your journey. It comes with an Oxygen storage system (provides Oxygen when you are inside), so it is important to recharge its battery and Oxygen levels before you go on a long trip. There are 5 upgradable categories for the vehicle – Engine, Survival, Scan, Build and Shielding, which sometimes there will be 2 options allowing you to improve the stats according to your preference. Your character is upgradable with different options too.
As it is a survival game, of course you will need to maintain life-support meters so you won’t die. Health meters only drops when you are injured or stays in hostile environments such as dust clouds for a prolonged period. Oxygen, Food and Water meter drop over time, you will need to keep them up using the resources you have. There is also a Power meter that depletes when you are using scanner and torchlight, you can recharge it with batteries.
You can start expanding your base once you have got the right materials. Just like most of the construction game systems, you can build different type of buildings. There are Core Units, Storage Units, Power Units, Industrial Units and Work Force that you can choose to build according to your needs. For example, if you need more storage space to store your collected materials, you can go for Storage Units.
Since the game is based on Mars, the sceneries are mostly displayed in a similar brownish orange colour scheme. The weather tries to kill you whenever there is a chance as well. Despite all these, the detailed graphics and ultra-realistic physics do make you feel like you are really travelling on a deserted planet.
Unfortunately the game only allows single-player experience, it would be more enjoyable if you can team up with friends (hopefully we will get multiplayer features in the future). If you are into construction and survival games like No Man’s Sky, JCB Pioneer: Mars is a game worth for a try.