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JumpJet Rex

JumpJet Rex

Written by Jeremy Duff on 6/3/2015 for PC  
More On: JumpJet Rex

Everybody loves to jump on the “retro” train. Just take a look at the Indie category on something like Steam and you will see many devs crafting games that harken back to the classic 8- or 16-bit days of gaming, specifically in the visual department. What a lot of the developers forget though, is that retro games didn’t just look a certain way, they could often be hard as nails too. The crew at TreeFortress Games definitely haven’t forgotten just how hard games used to be; their recently released JumpJet Rex not only looks the part of a classic platformer, but it nails the feel and challenge of one as well.

The premise in JumpJet Rex is actually extremely simple: get to the finish line as quickly as possible. Mind you, you’re going to do this as a suave, 8-bit pixelated, T-Rex decked out with rocket boots and sunglasses who is on a mission to save all of dinosaur-kind, but let’s not worry about that. That information is sort of tacked on at the very beginning in order to set the stage for your intergalactic adventure. It never really comes into play throughout the game any more than being mentioned in passing.

The focus here is on speed running a variety of meticulously designed platforming stages. In a game like this, gameplay is everything and JumpJet Rex has that aspect nailed down. The controls are simple and responsive. You can jump, dash, rocket (straight up), and drop straight down with ease and great responsiveness. It is very ease to stop and switch directions on a dime once you get used to the controls, which becomes necessity on the more complicated levels.

I must note that the level design here is truly top notch. Treefortress has done a phenomenal job in giving players a good variety in terms of level assortment. While there are only 40 stages, they do an excellent job of varying not only the style, with some being straight forward (and not so straight forward) paths from start to finish, and others being arena or maze-like, letting you choose your own path. Many also include environmental affects and hazards that you will have to consider too, which helps keep things mixed up every step of the way.

Things do get a little varied every couple of planets as the game throws a variety of boss battles your way. These are easily some of the most enjoyable stages and challenge you to put your skills to the test as you try to use your limited skillset to inflict damage on your enemy. This is one of those games where a controller is highly recommend, although you can probably get by for a little while by just using the keyboard controls, at least with getting the basic, level completed stars (which we’ll explain).

You’re given a wide variety of planets to choose from and progress through, each becoming more difficult than those before. Your goal is to earn up to three stars on each one; one star is earned just for reaching the finish line, another is given if you do so without losing a life, and the final will be awarded if you can complete the course within the required time. The more stars that you accumulate, the more stages that you will be given access to as you progress.

It seems very simple, however don’t be fooled into thinking you are just going to breeze through these levels nabbing three stars with ease. The secondary (not dying and benchmark) become very difficult to earn rather early in the game. You should have no problem going three for three on the first couple of stages, but soon you will find that a lot of the later levels require absolute perfection in order to earn them all. In order to face the games final boss, you have to have at least 80 accumulated stars, which is at least 2 on every level, which can prove to be an incredibly difficult task.

As much as this difficulty is a blessing to the game, it is also a bit of a curse. The game can be downright brutal at times, causing even the most skilled player fits of frustration. You will also find yourself plateauing numerous times across your journey, unable to earn enough stars to open up the next section. This is because the star-requirements are extremely narrow at times, leaving you very little room for error in your progression. You will be forced to go back and try for those missing stars, which are usually extremely difficult to achieve, over and over again. When this happens, the fun of the game starts to die off and things feel like more of a chore. There are efforts made to alleviate the process such as ghosts of your previous runs as well as the option to bring in other players, both of which will go long ways to show you the errors in your attempts. However, the frustration remains in the long run.

All along the way there are coins to be found scattered throughout the universe. Collecting these gives you money to spend on customizing your dino to suit your personality. There are a literal crapton of options to purchase such as different colored shoes, hats, glasses, and even different colored ninja masks that look like they were ripped straight out of Mortal Kombat. On the surface this may seem like a completionist’s dream, considering how much there is to acquire. However, the pricing causes some serious frustration in the long run. A large majority of the items are ridiculously overpriced, requiring you to basically grind levels repeatedly in order to save up enough to get everything, which is a serious turn off.

Overall, JumpJet Rex was a breath of fresh air for me. It has been a long time since I played a game that tested me and my platforming skills as well as this one did. The biggest issue, as I said, is the extremely small margin for error over the course of the game; too many times you will hit a brick wall, unable to secure the star or two you need to open up the next few planets. When this happens, the fun turns to frustration and all of the charm goes right out of the window. I would have liked to see some sort of progression system in play, top increase Rex’s abilities and skills over time. I think this would have helped alleviate the stress of the progression-halts that mentioned and given people more of a reason to go back and revisit completed stages multiple times. Even without those changes, it is still a really fun game and a great reminder of just what the platforming genre is all about.

Jumpjet Rex is a great game but it can often as frustrating as it is fun. As long as you pace yourself, especially when things start getting difficult and your progression slows, you will find it to be an extremely enjoyable trip down memory lane and a great reminder of how challenging 2D platformers can be.


Rating: 7.4 Above Average

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About Author

Guess who's back!!! If you have been here before, you know the basics: lifelong gamer, father, and of course, former certified news monkey. I still consider myself all of those things, just maybe not in the grand scale that I once did. I’ve been blogging on the industry for more than decade now, in some form or another. It wasn't until I landed here at Gaming Nexus that I really dove in head first. Now, writing about games has become what I do for fun (and sometimes work) and something I intend on doing until the day I die (in some form or another).

I'm a huge fan of just about everything you can interact with using a controller, no matter how old or new, good or bad. If you put it in front of me, I will play it (at least once).

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