Humankind often underestimates the intelligence of dinosaurs. We forget that they pioneered space travel and worked tirelessly to protect the Earth from an oncoming asteroid. Thankfully, JumpJet Rex is here to remind us of their heroism.
You play JumpJet Rex by controlling a dinosaur with rocket shoes. He can jump endlessly, dash in mid-air, kick to attack enemies, and quickly ascend or descend before hazards get the best of him. It's really quite impressive what this little T-Rex is capable of as you watch him quickly manoeuvre through many tricky situations. You'll narrowly avoid spiky walls, carefully dash past timed lasers, deal with enemies who home in on you, and fight the occasional boss. The controls are responsive and intuitive which makes dealing with the high degree of challenge an even more rewarding task. These spot-on controls are especially appreciated when you attempt to beat each level's time trial and climb the leaderboards. However, if it's still too difficult for you then you can always lower the difficulty so you can enjoy a more leisurely experience. Overall, the 2D action on display here makes for a very solid gameplay premise.
JumpJet Rex is undeniably retro-inspired and it accomplishes its old-school aesthetic wonderfully. Upon starting my adventure, watching the dino eagerly work his way to his space ship then don a pair of sunglasses before heading off put a big smile on my face. Every pixel-perfect character and stage makes the visuals all the more authentic yet the audio takes it to a higher level. Sound effects are reminiscent of older games such as Mega Man while the music is composed of delightfully cheery chip-tunes. In the end, JumpJet Rex charmed me with its retro style to the point where I felt like I took a time machine back to the mid-'90s.
The main mode in JumpJet Rex is a campaign that includes over 40 stages. Each stage has three stars to achieve that correspond to just beating it, completing it unscathed, and finishing it in under the par time. Obtaining certain star thresholds unlocks further levels thus allowing you to progress in the adventure. I found the par times to be quite uneven as some were easy to beat while others seemed impossible no matter how hard I tried. Therefore, you'll primarily aim for not getting hurt since you'll receive two stars fairly easily. Anyway, you can also play the campaign cooperatively with a pal and challenge them to competitive races and arena battles. I found cooperating to be kind of irritating as we'd often get separated and therefore couldn't see either character but the split-screen competitive modes are rather enjoyable. Races are self-explanatory while the arena mode allows you to compete in all-out death matches, territory battles, and cookie collecting. Just so you know, my wife and I preferred the cookie mode to the other two.
Although it sounds pretty cool so far, JumpJet Rex has a few issues that take away from its longevity. The campaign may have many stages but most can be completed in well under a minute. Only a handful take longer than a couple of minutes so you can essentially beat the whole thing in about an hour. Of course, you'll regularly require multiple attempts but that doesn't change the fact that it's a short experience. I already explained how uneven the par times are but the difficulty is incredibly imbalanced, too. I breezed through many stages right after being stuck on the previous one and the later levels are much too difficult. On top of this, the environments start to repeat early on. You'll mainly traverse forests, snowy areas, and futuristic zones. If there was more variety then the campaign would be a lot more enjoyable. Next, the bosses aren't that fun to challenge as it's unclear how to take them down. You'll end up haphazardly experimenting only to eventually resort to basic attacks that do very little damage. Finally, you collect coins as you play but they only unlock items that change Rex's appearance. After I found this out, I stopped going out of my way to collect them altogether.
JumpJet Rex is a fun little 2D platformer that fans of the genre won't regret downloading. However, its shortcomings will make you wish that there was simply more of it to love.
- + Challenging gameplay that puts you in control of one agile and capable dinosaur
- + Authentic retro visuals and audio
- + Multiplayer modes add replay value
- - Campaign is short with stages that have uneven difficulty and lack variety
- - Bosses aren't very fun to take on
- - Unlockables are superficial at best