After ten years, Barry Steakfries crashes back into the top-secret laboratory in Jetpack Joyride 2, on the Apple Arcade.
With how well-known the original Jetpack Joyride is, it feels strange realizing a sequel is only now just coming out but it feels like developer Halfbrick Studios put that extra decade of experience to good use. Jetpack Joyride 2 feels like a true expansion over the original game with a new upgrade system, a greater variety of levels, and overall more to do from start to finish.
The Joys of The Jetpack
Jetpack Joyride begins with Barry crashing back into the secret lab because, why not? There really isn’t much story in the game and it doesn’t really need one. The characters are given more dialogue (complete with a number of corny jokes) but even they acknowledge the story is more or just to give the gameplay context.
From there the game is very much the same 2D endless runner that the original. You press the touch screen to fire up the jetpack and shoot up and let go to drop back down all using a momentum-based physics engine. The main difference this time around is that the game includes elements of a shoot ’em up. Barry now has a gun and must shoot down various enemies or get knocked back to the ground.
In order to do this, Jetpack 2 has an assortment of new weapons and powerups that you’re randomly given through the levels. These include a flame thrower or laser gun that can be used to destroy the many robots that get in your way. You can even find vehicles that transform your jetpack into a mech or a UFO, keeping the game fresh and lively. There’s a sense of satisfaction being able to wreak havoc with these new toys, with the mech, in particular, giving a good sense of crunch to your attacks.
The gameplay of Jetpack Joyride 2 isn’t exactly rocket science but that’s a good thing. This isn’t supposed to be a cutting-edge console game, it’s short-burst mobile fun at its best. You can easily get into the game, understand what to do, and have fun playing it. It’s very much the kind of game you want to play while sitting on a bus or waiting in line at a store.
Even more labs
That being said, several new features have been added to the sequel. Unlike the original where you flew through one endless corridor, Jetpack Joyride 2 has been split up into different levels set in different labs, that can be seen via the main menu.
The levels offer a greater amount of variety introducing new enemies and bosses which helps keep the game from getting too repetitive. I do however think there’s a missed opportunity in not allowing users to go back and replay levels they’ve beaten which would have added more replayability to the game, letting players go through their favorite stages a second time.
The game is also notable for using more cartoon-like sprites for the characters as opposed to pixel art like the original. I do personally prefer the pixels but I can deny that the new art style looks very clean and helps the characters pop out more on the smaller mobile screens.
A New and Improved Jetpack
The game also features new upgrade systems. You can use coins that are dropped throughout the game to upgrade your health, and attack power. You can also go to the garage section of the menu to upgrade your vehicles however these require blueprints in addition to coins.
The game also has a number of badges that act as accessories, giving you passive buffs like a ‘super magnet’ that draws items to you. You’ll eventually be able to equip three of these to Barry.
They’re pretty basic skill improvements but still a nice inclusion. You can definitely feel the difference the badges and buffs make in-game with the gunshots, in particular, packing a far greater punch. A few levels a was having trouble with actually became a lot easier after forking over some coins for a bigger health bar.
To get coins, blueprints, and other currencies used throughout the game, there is a feature called the factory that produces them every few hours almost like a management sim. You can even upgrade these factories to produce materials faster. It’s an interesting idea that ensures that you’ll eventually get an upgrade although it’s still only on the slow side. Even with some upgrades, you’ll get one new unit of currency every half hour or so.
Lootbox Without Microtransactions
There is one final upgrade system in the game called the “power-ups” for the different weapons and these are obtained through a loot box system.
Since this is an Apple Arcade game, however, there’s no actual monetization. Instead, you can roll the gacha by using ‘tokens’ which can be obtained in the factory or by completing various missions throughout the game.
I’m mixed about this idea. On one hand, it’s good that the game isn’t monetized but without that monetization, I don’t see a point in randomized weapon power-ups. It would be better if they just let you upgrade whatever power-up you want so you can focus on your favorite weapon.
Arcade and Achievements
Outside of the main game, there are also a couple of extra modes in Jetpack Joyride 2. You can complete a number of in-game achievements called “missions” like picking up a certain number of health items and high-fiving a certain amount of scientists while on the ground. These give you more exp, coins, and other collectibles.
Later on, you can also unlock “Arcade” which consists of smaller objective-based levels like hitting targets or doing ice missiles. These likewise give you new items to upgrade your gear. They’re a fun bonus from the longer main game missiles and the fact they change daily means there’s always a new one to try out.
Jetpack Joyride 2 is casual fun and does well at being casual fun. Its gameplay is simple but fast and engaging, never feeling like a big commitment but rather a quick distraction from whatever you’re in the middle of.
The game does however go a bit beyond its endless runner routes with its surprisingly expansive leveling system and the number of unlockables that can be obtained without any monetization, ensuring that even if you only play for a few minutes at a time, you’ll be doing something new and different for those few minutes.
Jetpack Joyride 2 is available for iOS devices via the Apple Arcade.