Navigate your way through more than 40 levels as a T-Rex with rocket boots. You explore the galaxy and unlock new areas to stop the extinction of dinosaurs. JumpJet Rex comes from TreeFortress and brings a retro style approach that draws inspiration from games from the 90’s. These days “retro” style games have seen a massive resurgence and have now once again become a core pillar of video gaming and is one of the most popular genres.
In JumpJet Rex feels like a classic platformer that not only looks like a classic but also plays well to. Players can explore the galaxy and unlock new worlds alone or team up with a friend in co-op mode, where players will need to coordinate movements to get past challenges. In co-op mode, the second player takes on the role of Rex’s pet pug. The idea of the game is pretty straightforward and sees you having to get to the end of each stage as fast as you can. As I said you play as a T-Rex with rocket boots on a quest to save the galaxy from a giant meteor. This is a game that is very much about speed running and guiding your way through some well designed levels and dangerous environments. Games like this that require careful and precise control is paramount and JumpJet T-Rex does it fantastically. The controls are easy to pick up and feel very responsive. You jump, dash, drop down and use rocket boosters to make your way through each area.
Using the X button will send Rex rocketing in the direction you are currently facing. This is the main boost action you will be using in order to quickly boost through dangerous obstacles. You can move upwards with the Y button. If you press A Rex will do a small jump and B sends him downwards. The idea behind each stage is to collect the stars available in order to open up the next stages. Just reaching the end is enough to win a star, but each stage has two additional stars. The second star is obtained by completing the stage without dying and the third is won by beating the par time. The game’s total of 126 stars is a massive undertaking, so you’ll need the practice. This system of collecting stars to open new stages felt very similar to the way in which Mario or other classic platformers work.
The mechanics are based around the idea the learning the layout of each stage and then perfecting your run. Levels are short so it doesn’t feel frustrating to have to repeat them multiple times in order to win all of the stars. During runs through the levels some doors need to be unlocked and rings need to be moved through. These help create a sense of urgency along with a ghost of you on your best timed run to make you move that bit faster. I liked having the ‘ghost’ as it helps tell you how well you are doing and if you are moving fast enough to beat your time. The game has plenty of checkpoints throughout and help break the stages up into small manageable sections. I personally think it’s a good idea to spend the first playthrough of each area simply exploring and learning the layout of each stage before coming back to beat it as fast as possible. The levels are well designed and feel varied, with areas to explore and enemies to take on. You can kill enemies by boosting through them or hitting LB and RB at the same time to perform an attack.
The level design is fantastic with not only beautifully designed visuals but also offer variation and challenging moments. There are 40 stages to make your way through and they do a great job of varying style, with some being straight forward paths from start to finish, and others being arena or maze-like, letting you choose your own path. The stages have environmental hazards that keep you on your toes throughout. You also come across boss battles and these offer nice variety to the gameplay. These are all very unique and require you to use your limited skills to bring down your opponent. You have to take your time and figure out how each boss moves and attacks to successfully outwit them.
As you progress through the game you’re given various planets to choose from, each becoming more challenging as you get further. The more stars you gain; the more stages you will have access to. You will find that you will have to go back at some points and replay stages to earn more stars in order to progress. This may sound easy but it does actually become extremely hard to obtain stars as you get further in the game. The second star in each area, the one for not dying, is especially hard in later stages. In order to face the games final boss, you have to have at least 80 stars, which is at least 2 on every level.
Now I do love a game that plays well and offers a good challenge but I have to say that JumpJet T-Rex really pushes the difficulty at times to another level. I often found myself scavenging for stars that felt almost impossible to obtain. I really had to practise certain stages over and over before finally getting it. I enjoyed the challenge but I can certainly see some people finding this incredibly frustrating and off putting after a while. I like games that have plenty of collectables and this does a good job of making you want to replay stages in order to collect gold coins scattered throughout. If you collect these coins you can spend them on customizing your character. There is a whole load of things you can buy like shoes, hats, glasses and other cosmetic items that are fun to mess about with.
The presentation of the game is simply awesome with its retro appearance, with slick graphics and chiptune soundtrack to match. It clearly takes inspiration from old platformers and this certainly feels like a classic. What makes this game so good though is how it not only nails the aesthetics but it also feels great to play with tight and responsive controls. It feels great to be able to play new iterations and takes on classic genres and gives the chance for current generations to experience these types of games. The sound design is great and I enjoyed the upbeat chiptune music that suits the game well.
I had a blast playing JumpJet T-Rex, with its vibrant visual style and strong level design. The controls are simple, feel easy to get a hang of and feel very responsive. The game has plenty to offer with tonnes of replayability but some players might find the game a little too challenging at times. It’s a game that requires patience and practice but if you give it time it does ultimately feel very satisfying. I highly recommend this game if you like a challenge or want that retro platfomer experience.
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