Game developers often try to bring something new to the table. This might be flashy graphics, clever storytelling, or even unusual mechanics or concepts. It's something of an arm's race, and while many of the games that result are excellent in their own right, sometimes you want the old and familiar instead of the shiny and new. JumpJet Rex is one of the latter, as it's designed to look, sound, and feel like it was one of games released back in the DOS era. This is hardly a bad thing, as it allowed the developers to focus on making it a fun game for everyone.
Like the old games it pretends to be, the story is little more than an excuse. You play as Rex, and as you probably guessed, he's a dinosaur (a tyrannosaurus rex, to be specific). What you probably didn't guess is that he's also the first dinosaur astronaut, and this game tells of his first mission out in the vastness of space. You see, shortly after he got up there, scientists discovered that there was a giant asteroid headed towards Earth. With no time to prepare anyone else for the mission, it's up to Rex to fly through space and destroy the asteroid before it wipes out dinokind.
Or at least, that's the premise. The bulk of the game is focused on exploring various planetoids and space stations. Each of these areas is a self-contained level where Rex needs to fly around and pass though floating gold rings. Once he's passed through enough of them, the door to the exit will open, and he can earn up to three stars based on how well he performed. These stars are used to unlock new levels, and they play a role in the climactic final level, so it's a good idea to earn as many as you can.
The future of dinokind depends on you stopping that asteroid, so hurry up and hit the skies flying already!
Normally, Rex is a one-hit wonder. This makes the levels quite difficult, but you also get infinite lives and plenty of checkpoints. Should this be too tough, you can opt for easy mode, which lets Rex take another hit before he'd down. On the other hand, if you want to indulge in some controller-snapping levels of frustration, there's the Ragequit
Rex mode. You get three lives, one hit point per life, and no checkpoints. The difficulty setting also determines how many stars you need to collect in order to progress -- the harder the challenge, the more stars are needed.
While old games rarely had a feature like this, modern games can't do without it. Changing Rex's appearance is free and can be done anywhere there's a changing booth. The catch is that you need to unlock
new color schemes or head apparel by finding them in special levels or by purchasing them from space stations using the treasure you've found throughout you journey.
There are a number of secret collectibles
stashed away among the stars. To aid you in finding these goodies, the level select map displays a message when you've selected a level possessing a treasure you haven't collected yet. Not every level has such secrets, but the ones that do sometimes hide them off-screen or in a hidden bonus area.
Once collected, these items adorn your base like furniture.
The game's story can end in one of three ways. Your success or failure during the final level determines the result. Unfortunately for Rex, he makes the novice mistake of arming the planetoid destroying bomb before setting it, resulting in a crazed rush to the center of the planet to get the bomb in place and an even more panicked rush to get out of there before the thing goes off. Can you reach the core in time? If so, can you get back to your ship? These questions determine the fate of the Earth and Dinokind.
Steam community features
Have a friend or sibling that would like to play too? Then you're in for a treat. This title features a few different ways for several people to play together. Aside from a co-op
mode for the main game, there are a few game modes where players compete against each other. These include a deathmatch
mode, a relay game where you feed cookies to hungry aliens, and a king of the hill mode. Up to four players can play together on one machine, provided you have enough controllers and keyboards to go around.
Co-op mode isn't well implemented
This time around they only amount to some achievements
, but there are plenty of them. Many of them require some seriously tricky maneuvers or top-notch skills, so don't expect to just earn them all by playing through the game once. That said, if you can conquer the Ragequit
Rex mode, you'll have earned an achievement
that less than 1% of this game's player base has managed to acquire.
This is the biggest issue I can think of regarding this game. All of the multiplayer modes use a split screen, allowing everybody to move around the levels freely, except for the co-op
story mode. This means that neither player can really move around much, as the other player's character creates an artificial wall. Taking things slightly further, when one player reaches the goal, the other instantly vanishes and can't continue until the fist player collects the level's stars.
Like the classic games JumpJet Rex apes, it's fairly difficult and somewhat unforgiving. Even on the easiest modes, you'll end up having to restart levels often. This is less of a problem if you're not attempting to earn the star awarded for clearing the level without dying, but you'll still end up back at a checkpoint more than you might like.
The vast majority of the violence present in this game comes in the form of Rex getting killed by hazards in the levels. Each way he can die features a unique and comical animation. For example, getting electrocuted results in his skeleton flashing briefly before his body crumbles to ashes. Simpler deaths, like getting poked by spikes, just feature him falling off screen.
Some of the references might be considered offensive
When Rex attacks enemies, most of them just pop out of existence. The bosses on the other hand eventually get knocked out. Even after they've been defeated, you can still make them flinch by attacking them again. Speaking of the bosses, the Yeti boss develops a nose bleed once defeated. This is the only time blood appears in the game.
There are a lot of nods to gaming culture in this game, specifically with the names of achievements
and some of the loot
that you can find hidden in the stages. If you're not familiar with gaming culture -- specifically the friendly rivalry between casual gamers
and hardcore gamers
-- it's likely that you'll see these references as offensive or insulting. For example, completing the game on easy earns you the achievement
named "filthy casual". This is just playful ribbing, not an insult.