Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Tuesday 10 July 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Jetpack Joyride

Game: Jetpack Joyride

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: Michał Gołębiowski

Year: 2019

Lucky Duck are beginning to release a number of board games based on popular apps. It's a really interesting source material, especially given how the tabletop and digital gaming worlds are beginning to collide more and more.

Jetpack Joyride is an app from Halfbrick that we've never played, but it appears to be a platformer about Barry, a struggling gramophone salesman, who breaks into a secret laboratory and commandeers experimental jetpacks. In the tabletop game, all players are racing to create a safe route through a random laboratory for Barry to navigate, whilst collecting bonuses along the way.

Real-time games can be stressful, but we often enjoy them, so let's take an early look at Jetpack Joyride!


Each game of Jetpack Joyride will consist of 3 rounds, on the first round players will race through their personal lab made of 4 map pieces, in the second round the maps will be passed round the table so everyone has a map someone else had in round 1. In the final round each player will flip thier tiles to create a new map that hasn't been played on yet this game.

Points are earned for collecting coins, in addition each round there will be a set of 3 objectives that can be completed for bonus points. At the end of a round players will take turns picking an upgrade that they will be able to use in future rounds. Upgrades can provide bonus ways to earn points, or simply make it easier to get through the lab.

Moving through the lab is done during the real-time phase. Each player will rush to select 5 space long tiles in a variety of different tetris-like patterns. The rules are simply, the first square of your new tile must touch the final square in the previous tile. Along the way you must avoid missiles and laser beams that will block your way. Once one player has escaped off the far end, or if there are no tiles left, then the round ends and players will score. The player with the highest points at the end of round 3 will win.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

Jetpack Joyride is a simple, but focused game, there is only really one mechanic, but it has been done well enough to create a great filler-level game. The objectives give a nice balance between racing through the laboratory (thus ending your opponents round early) and going slow in order to claim more points. The upgrades that you earn between round are often powerful, though some are clearly better than others. This acts as a catch up mechanism as the player on the least points gets to choose their upgrade first.

Set up can be a little clunky for two players as you have to remove about half of the movement tiles. While this does keep the game tight it can mean that you accidentally remove more of one tile type than any other and some tiles are simply more often useful than others. Of particular note there are some maps where you essentially need the large 'L' shaped piece to get by the lasers, if there happen to not be many of those in your game you can be out of luck.

Generally speaking I don't like speed games, probably because I don't have as fast a reaction time as Fi. It's not much fun to play a game where you can't win due to simple biology... Jetpack Joyride manages to break this issue, as while Fi was always finishing the round, my slow and steady approach often yielded a higher score as I smashed my way through each objective.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

We have not had the best history with competitive real-time games, after a few bad experiences of games that felt like 'who can roll and re-roll these dice the fastest?'. Thankfully, Jetpack Joyride offers us a much more satisfying experience. It's still a race, but finishing first is definitely not the ultimate goal. Finishing first can be a strategy to preventing your opponents from scoring lots of points, but we've found that the player who takes a little more time to think about tile placement is likely to do much better when gaining points for coins and succeeding at the round bonuses. Of course, the player who thinks faster can secure the pieces they need more quickly, so reactions and quick spatial reasoning are the success factors in the game.

One of my favourite parts of the game is how each round increases in complexity. There is a reward for every player at the end of the round, but these are drafted, with first choice going to the player in last place. Most of the bonuses give you a secondary way of scoring points by doing something unique in the subsequent rounds. In round two you'll be working with one bonus card, and in round three you'll be working with two, which adds more complexity to the decisions you'll be making about tile placement to best suit your unique point scoring opportunities.

Jetpack Joyride is a pretty simple concept but the speed with which you have to make some quite intricate decisions and choices about forward planning, really makes it quite addictive. I love how in a two player game, the lack of variety of pieces in the centre can make it really competitive to avoid being blocked into your own laboratory and this certainly makes you regret a lack of forward planning. Jetpack Joyride is a fast game that I would certainly bring out between longer games at a game night, but do be aware that you might never put it away again!

You Might Like...
  • Jetpack Joyride is a fast game that definitely makes you want to play more than once in a row.
  • This real-time game is not just about speed, it is often the case that 'slow and steady wins the race'.
  • Most of the bonus cards add interesting extra puzzle elements to the game, that really make you think about optimal escape routes.
You Might Not Like...
  • Speed games are not for everyone. Although reaction time isn't everything in Jetpack Joyride, it can be an advantage.
  • Some map tiles do appear to be more difficult than others, which may result in an unfair playing field.

The Verdict
7.5/10 Jetpack Joyride is the best competitive real-time game we've played. It's not just a race, it's a real balance of accuracy against speed as you plan your escape routes. The game is filled with interesting moments and I can see it would be a great game for parties and families.

Jetpack Joyride was a prototype copy kindly provided to us by Lucky Duck Games. Check out their Kickstarter campaign, launching on July 10th 2018.

No comments:

Post a Comment