To describe Jetpack Joyride 2 is to undersell it. You play as Barry Steakfries, a man strapped to a jetpack who automatically propels forward. You tap and hold to move him up, let go to drop him down, and shoot bullets while weaving in and out of enemies to finish a level.
Halfbrick’s latest game has the same casual compulsiveness as many mobile games of the past — Angry Birds, Threes, Crossy Road, and even the developer’s own 2010 mega-hit, Fruit Ninja. It’s highly addictive and extremely accessible, full of inoffensive art, bad jokes, and a just-one-more-level mentality.
To say Jetpack Joyride 2 is the sole reason to get Apple Arcade is to completely oversell it. It’s fun, sure, but that’s like saying Candy Crush Saga was once worth making a Facebook account. (Debatable). I don’t think it’s a killer app in any way, but it’s got enough charm and momentum to it that I’m happy it’s an Apple Arcade exclusive.
But to play Jetpack Joyride 2 is the only way to truly understand it. There’s a momentum and energy that the game holds that can’t be sold through text, and while it has the skeleton of a free-to-play game turned Apple Arcade exclusive, it holds a lot of magic as a chaotic shooter.
The original Jetpack Joyride is an endless runner in which you‘re automatically propelled forward as you dodge enemies and electric traps for as long as you can to achieve the highest score. In Jetpack Joyride 2, the game trades its endless runner mechanic for actual levels. Each level on the game’s map gets progressively longer and usually ends with — another new addition to this sequel — a boss, or a special event. The sequel also adds several power-ups and guns, which automatically shoot upon pick-up, which makes for an interesting and quite-addicting level of on-screen chaos.
It’s fun to tap into a sort of flow state as you propel forward and strategically dodge traps, shoot enemies, and collect coins all at once. The chimes, colors, and plethora of collectibles make for an almost casino-like feeling of achievement.
The game is really as straightforward as tapping and holding the screen to move Barry (or his alternative reality female counterpart, Betty Beefpies) up and down. Everything else is automatic, which I kinda love. Sure, there’s a story to Jetpack Joyride 2, but it’s so kiddy, brief, and unfunny, that it’s easy to ignore — just lines of dialogue to breeze through that are over in five to seven taps.
The remnants of a free-to-play
Like Air Twister, Jetpack Joyride 2 has the skeleton of a game that was initially planned to accept real-life money. But like all of the best Apple Arcade games, no money is actually needed to play it. It’s clear that the developers swapped that money-making avenue out with in-game currencies you can collect via daily rewards, collecting coins, and completing levels. What often happens with these sorts of iOS games is that you’re left with a handful of in-game currencies that confuse the player as to how and where to spend.
Jetpack Joyride 2 has plenty of upgrades for Barry — be it health, weapon, jetpack, or otherwise — and it makes for a great cash-in incentive. But with so many currencies, sometimes you’ll forget your in-game cash is stacking up somewhere on the menu screen, and you’ll find that you've yet to venture in and collect. This isn’t a bad thing, per se — I mean, this is free fake money here — but it does get a little annoying if you’re one to keep up with rewards.
I’ve played Jetpack Joyride 2 in between breaks at work and before bed and accumulated roughly three hours of play so far. I’m having a blast, for sure, and I’m stoked to progress through the game even further. But one thing to note is that Jetpack Joyride 2 isn’t really finished. Several critics who’ve progressed further than me have stated that the game just kind of…ends, but not finishes. Halfbrick promises an update sometime in the future, though a date hasn’t been revealed, and it’ll likely add a batch of new levels. It’ll also have the addition of an endless mode, but no word yet on when it’ll arrive.
Worth getting sucked into
Jetpack Joyride 2 is worth trying out if you already have a subscription to Apple Arcade. However, it's not the Apple Arcade game we've all been waiting for to convert those non-users. It's an awesome game full of flying and gunning fun, highly-addicting coin and currency collecting, and gameplay that always convinces you to play just one more level. It's a blast to play and truly captures your attention. It just needs some more time to be a fully finished product.
Jetpack Joyride 2
Jetpack your way down the end of hallway-styled levels as Barry Steakfries, and dodge and shoot enemies while collecting coins in this highly-addictive game from Halfbrick.
Download from: App Store
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Kevin Cortez is a culture and product journalist with over nine years of experience. He was most recently the style editor for a leading product-recommendation site and previously covered the music and podcasting industries at Mass Appeal and The A.V. Club. He has also written for Leafly, Input, Vulture and Genius.