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Review: JumpJet Rex

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See Rex jump

As a kid of the '90s, I'm no stranger to mascot platformers. Aero the Acrobat, Jersey Devil -- I've pretty much played them all, and for the most part, they were safe and enjoyable experiences.

But in the current era dominated by shooters and other high-octane retro titles, creating an 8-bit romp with a cute dinosaur who wears rocket boots is anything but safe. Well, before JumpJet Rex that is.

JumpJet Rex (PC)
Developers: TreeFortress Games
Publisher: TreeFortress Games
Released: April 22, 2015
MSRP: $9.99

JumpJet Rex is more than just an amazingly cute dinosaur. I absolutely love the aesthetic, as it perfectly encapsulates the retro era without feeling too dated. Some aspects like the font look fairly cheap, but the style is authentic while making its on mark on the genre. The world map with the tiny free-roaming ship icon is just the best.

As for the level design, think of each level as an enclosed arena with branching paths -- the first thing that comes to mind is the second X-Men game on Genesis. Your task is to boost into various rings throughout each stage to unlock the exit, collecting coins along the way. Every level has three goals, and thus, three stars to earn -- no deaths, a par time, and a simple completion.

You'll accomplish these tasks with a dead-simple set of controls, which allow vertical and horizontal movement. Jumps are unlimited, as is air dashing, and the latter will cause a bullet to fly out of your feet in the opposite direction. To propel yourself upward you can opt to use a dedicated button for faster movement, and in turn, a special butt stomp method to slam down to the ground faster.

At first, the dedicated vertical options didn't seem all that important as you can simply leap and fall at will, but as the hazards start to get trickier, they become almost second nature. It's interesting how the developer was able to create a fairly deep movement system with nothing more than jumping and dashing. Having been in Early Access since January, developer TreeFortress Games has had the chance to work most of the kinks out, too.

Don't be scared of the learning curve either, as JumpJet has a lenient checkpoint system in place, with unlimited respawns. You likely won't earn two of the three stars that way, but eventually you can brute force your way to the completion medal, which is enough to get you by for most of the game until you go back and do things properly -- even boss fights have optional checkpoints that save throughout subsequent phases. Just note that progress is gated somewhat, so you will need a lot of those stars to see the end.

Thankfully, each level is pre-programmed with a ton of replay value, so even going back through old stages is fun. There's plenty of speedrun and time trial opportunities, as your ghost is automatically queued up from your previous runs. You can even race ghosts of other players online, including your friends and anyone currently ranked on the leaderboard. The game's total of 126 stars is a massive undertaking, so you'll need the practice. Oh, and four-player local co-op is definitely a welcome feature.

My chief complaint with Rex rests with the way each level is designed. Even though every level is distinctly different in terms of its theme and layout, they feel the same. You have the three aforementioned tasks every time, and you have to jump or dive through every ring to unlock the goal. Some levels try to mix things up with a tiny room rather than a labyrinthine map, but it feels grating when you miss a ring at the start and have to return to it, despite any momentum you may have worked up. A radar showing said rings in the corner helps, but it really screws up the pacing if you happen to overlook one.

JumpJet Rex feels right at home alongside of a lot of the classic retro games it pays homage to, but it also has some great modern updates and tweaks. While I could go for a little more variety in terms of the overarching goals it presents, I still found myself jumping in constantly to best my last ghost run even after the credits rolled.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Jumpjet Rex reviewed by Chris Carter

8

GREAT

Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures


 


 


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