GDC 11: Barry Steakfries returns in Machine Gun Jetpack

You can’t keep down Halfbrick’s lovable action hero, Barry Steakfries, down. He battled hordes of blood-thirsty ghouls (and an undead T-Rex!) in Age of Zombies. More recently, Monster Dash had him running for his life on iOS as he mowed down baddies with everything from a shotgun to a killer motorcycle.

Steakfries will return this year in Machine Gun Jetpack for the iOS, and this week at GDC in San Francisco, Halfbrick gave us a hands-on peek of an early version of the game.

It’s probably best to look at Machine Gun Jetpack as an evolution of Monster Dash. At its core, it’s a “runner game,” a sub-genre that’s found substantial success on mobile platforms like iOS. In these runner games, players have basic control over a character who perpetually dashes forward, the goal to get as far as possible before falling to your death or hitting an obstacle.

Machine Gun Jetpack isn’t breaking any major ground, and Halfbrick readily fesses up to that fact. Instead, its goal is to expand on Monster Dash, for the craziest runner experience games have ever seen. Using the popular machine gun jetpack from Monster Dash as its basis, the game has you tapping the screen to keep Barry afloat, machine gun fire raining down upon unfortunate enemies below. Obstacles included in the early version of the game we played include electrified fields, incoming rockets, and moving lasers.

To keep things fresh, Halfbrick will be including a bevy of crazy weapons for Barry to collect on his journey. The wild “Bad Ass Hog” returns from Monster Dash, but looks tame in comparison to the other power-ups Machine Gun Jetpack has to offer. The Anti-Gravity suit will let you reverse gravity with the tap of the screen, not unlke Terry Cavanagh’s indie hit, VVVVVV. There’s a mech walker that’s powerful, plodding distant relative of RoboCop‘s ED-209. Barry can also step into the seat of the Crazy Freaking Teleporter, a device that allows you to quick zap him to new areas of the screen with a simple tap.

While you’ll be focusing on distance when it comes to competing against your friends, you’ll also want to collect coins scattered about  the screen along the way. Machine Gun Jetpack will feature an hefty unlockable collection, including new outfits and items for Barry; I noticed in one game session he was wearing a top hat, and looked rather dashing.

Large coins, which are more rare, can be redeemed to play a slot machine mini-game after your game is over. This offers a chance for bonuses, including starting the game with a weapon. There’s even an atom bomb that is used immediately to send Barry flying a few hundred meters, adding to your total distance.

Machine Gun Jetpack is based on a simple concept, but one that seems to be executed with such polish (even in this early stage) that it was hard to put down once our demo was over. Halfbrick isn’t ready to commit to a release date yet (we were told it’s the longest development cycle for any of their mobile games to date), but Machine Gun Jetpack is certainly one to keep an eye on.

Nick Chester