Jetpack Joyride 2 Review – Running Up That Hall
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Jetpack Joyride 2 Review – Running Up That Hall

The original Jetpack Joyride released during an early apex of the mobile market. Small but quality games were successful, and the platform was not yet overrun with free-to-play gacha games. Jetpack Joyride represented a nice middle-ground, offering a fun core mechanic great for high score competition without overbearing microtransactions. In the 10 years since it was released, the market has changed. Premium games now struggle on mobile and while the most successful titles may ask for less money, they do it more often. Jetpack Joyride 2 could have pivoted to fit this new, profit-focused model, but instead developer Halfbrick opted to bring the game to Apple's Arcade subscription service. This means it won't ask you for a dime and it is also, surprisingly, no longer an endless runner. The new structure, with the familiar jetpack gameplay, is a fantastic choice that absolutely makes a better game, but it unfortunately is not yet complete, leading to a sudden and disappointing non-ending.

The core mechanic of Jetpack Joyride 2 is the same as the first. You, as Barry Steakfries (or the alternate reality female version, Betty Beefpies), sprint down a long hallway using a jetpack to move up and down and avoid obstacles. All these years later, narrowly dodging electric traps and missiles while the spray from your jetpack knocks over the scientists with the bad luck to get in your way is still an immediate blast. The change, however, is the sequel has levels, bosses, some light RPG mechanics, and even a shallow story. An endless mode is promised at some point in the future, but right now Jetpack Joyride 2 is a game with a campaign. The change is surprising considering the success of the first game (which still receives updates), but I like it. Beating levels is more frequently rewarding than having a series of bad runs before you finally have a good one, and the bosses are a fun additional challenge to cap off every few stages. Different levels also means stages look different as you progress, so you no longer have to stare at the same background while jetpacking.

Bosses, and levels to a degree, are overcome with Jetpack Joyride 2's other surprising new mechanic: Guns. About half your time is spent dodging obstacles, while the other half is spent shooting. This new mechanic fits in well and feels natural. This is partially because Barry and Betty shoot automatically, meaning you just have to line up your shot. It makes the shooting a basic extension of what you're already doing, and blowing up a robot with bullets as you drop below a passing missile feels great. The shooting action is even more fun against bosses as you both speed down the hallway exchanging fire.

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