Halfbrick’s upcoming Machine Gun Jetpack combines humor, great gameplay

Jun 13, 2011
Games

A lab full of scientists and a fast-break escape using a jetpack powered by a machine gun’s recoil – it sounds like a great concept for an iOS game because it is. Halfbrick, the creators of the smash hits like Fruit Ninja and Monster Dash, is bringing back its repeat offender and protagonist, Barry Steakfries, […]

A lab full of scientists and a fast-break escape using a jetpack powered by a machine gun’s recoil – it sounds like a great concept for an iOS game because it is.

Halfbrick, the creators of the smash hits like Fruit Ninja and Monster Dash, is bringing back its repeat offender and protagonist, Barry Steakfries, in its upcoming offering Machine Gun Jetpack. Like a lot of Barry’s other outings, the premise is pretty simple: create some mayhem for as long as possible in a 2-D sidescrolling endless running game.

The titular jetpack is a carryover item that appeared in Monster Dash, another of Barry’s running outings. In that game, Barry has to blast his way through an endless flood of monsters with lots of different weapons. One of those is a jetpack with that uses a machine gun instead of a jet – it shoots downwards, spraying bullets all over the place, and the recoil pushes Barry high in the air.

Machine Gun Jetpack takes that awesome concept to another level by bringing it to its own game. I got a chance to get my hands on the iPad version of Machine Gun Jetpack in Los Angeles at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, and it was a pretty great time.

In the game, Barry finds it in a lab beside a sign marked “DO NOT STEAL,” and promptly steals it to make his escape. The game is pretty simple and carries over the same old-school art style of Halfbrick’s other titles – Barry does his running on his own, gradually picking up speed as he goes. Firing the jetpack is done just by touching anywhere on the screen, lifting Barry up until the player lets go and he drops back down.

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Points are scored as the player gets further and further into the level and collecting floating coins along the way. There are also obstacles that need to be dodged in Barry’s path, like electricity fields and laser beams, and Barry can snag power-ups along the way that provide him with additional vehicles to use to get even further along.

This is where Halfbrick’s humor starts to creep in. Some of the power-ups are pretty interesting and change up the gameplay, and some are just plain inspired. One I saw during my time with the game was called the Profit Bird – a bird-shaped airplane that Barry pilots, which sucks in coins and sprays cash out the other side. Its Halfbrick’s little dig on Angry Birds, and it’s subtle, funny and useful through the course of the game.

Grabbing all those coins actually has a use in the game more than just scoring points. Coins can actually be applied to a number of content purchases within the game, like additional kinds of jetpacks and power-ups, different clothes for Barry to wear, and other cool things. There’s actually a huge amount of things that can be earned and bought in Machine Gun Jetpack, which give a great incentive for keeping the game going.

Halfbrick isn’t quite sure just when Machine Gun Jetpack will be hitting the App Store, but I was told the game is mostly finished and that “really soon” was a reasonable expectation. Like Barry’s other games, it’ll likely carry a price tag of between $0.99 and $2.99, though I’d expect it to land on the lower end of the spectrum. From my experience with the title, though, even a relatively high price of three bucks will be worth it for Machine Gun Jetpack’s mix of addictive fun and wit.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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