Reviewed: April 14, 2005
Released: March 30, 2005
Trial Version Download
Mention “side-scrolling space shooters” and you’re apt to get a few different responses. “Gradius” “Darius” perhaps even “Einhander.” They all have a few things in common with Jets’n’Guns you can pilot a space ship against neigh endless fleets of enemy ships, get credits, and then outfit it with your choice of weapons and armor.
Jets’n’Guns centers on you (as a mercenary pilot) rejoining with your old commander to destroy a “massive weapon”, rescue the scientist who built aforementioned weapon and kill the evil Xoxx who kidnapped the scientist and had him build the massive weapon. You can also pick up bounties if you buy a Bounty Hunter license or broadcast your kill sprees for extra money.
Personally, I like shooters. Though I’m a bigger fan of the top down variety, I’ve never been against playing a side-scroller. There’s just some intrinsic quality to being a little ship, dodging between lasers and bullets, faced against impossible odds, while firing back with very outlandish weapons. I played 1942 for the NES and I’ve loved shooters ever since.
Your avatar in the game is your ship. It can be equipped with a variety of weapons, in a variety of positions. To start off, you can only equip two forward weapons, but as the game progresses, you get a bomb bay, missiles and a rear weapon slot. Almost all of the weapons can be upgraded several times too.
Upgrading increases the speed, temperature, or damage of a weapon. While power and speed are good, the temperature is a negative. To counteract the temperature, you can upgrade the cooling system on your ship. Even upgraded to the maximum, the system will still overheat after a time depending on the weapons you have outfitted and upgraded.
Ships upgrades, beyond the cooling system mentioned above, consist of many things, up to a total of 19 different areas. The standard, engines, armor, and maneuverability are there. But you can also buy some other stuff. A weapon cage can adjust the firing arc of certain weapons. Shields can be purchased. Even a jetpack to eject your pilot should your ship be destroyed, etc.
Stages feature you fighting through wave after wave of enemies and usually meeting up with a Boss at the end, this is accompanied by a lot of explosions and ground destruction. The stages aren’t so easy you can’t just fly through them, but not so hard they feel impossible.
Shooters are basically one big, long, display of destruction and shot-dodging. Jets’n’Guns throws in an escort mission, which is pretty neat. A few of the stages even have an objective besides killing an end boss. By their very nature, shooters are (to a degree) repetitive, but Jets’n’Guns reaches slightly beyond that. Expanding the genre without leaving people behind.
The story is slightly satirical, the majority of it being conveyed through messages you receive between missions. You also get some mission background while the stage loads. Load times are quick and most stages have checkpoints so you can continue from there in case you die.
Usually, when you purchase what some people would call “budgetware” you aren’t expecting the graphics to be good, you probably don’t even expect them to look current. As with other things, Jets’n’Guns completely blows that thinking out of the water.
I could easily see this game on any of the new consoles. It also looks better then most availably side-scrolling space shooters. Not to mention it runs like a dream with absolutely no slow-down no matter how hectic the action gets.
Each of the weapons system (of which there are 57 available) looks suitably different. Given the fact each can be upgraded, along with different weapon effect, you’re looking at a lot care being put into how the game looks.
There are over 200 different enemy ship designs. Some are used more then once, but when a stage is wholly different, it has wholly different ships. The enemy weapons effects, while not as varied as your own, still look sharp and the enemy ships and installations blow up with suitable aplomb.
The stages themselves are quite varied and take place in deep space, on the planet’s surface, and even underwater. No two look exactly alike and they arranged in such a way they don’t become tiresome.
Weapons make noise, 57 different weapons better each have a different sound and Jets’n’Guns delivers. The ship mortar sounds different then the shuttle mortar. Machine guns sound like machine guns. Explosions and impacts are also rendered with care.
The sound effects themselves, in the heat of battle, sound like a symphony of destruction, with ships exploding, crashing into the Earth thus blowing enemy forts below them, bullets and energy beams lancing through the air, the scream of humans being blown up.
The game also features stage music by Machinae Supremacy. This is simply grand and the best kind of game music. Music so smooth it virtually melts into the background. Not saying the tracks aren’t good, they are, but they fit the game and stages so well you don’t even notice they’re there.
The main game is reasonably long; your ship can be outfitted with over 57 different weapons, in any combination, making for thousands of possible combinations. Couple that with the ship paint designs and other ship upgrades and you could play the game a second time with a whole new setup and strategy.
There are no multiplayer modes or online rankings to speak of; going through the game co-op would’ve been nice. Though with such a polished and white-knuckle single-player experience, you don’t really miss it.
Wow, this game seriously impressed me. I can say, without a doubt, “Jets’n’Guns” the best game I’ve played so far this year. The gameplay is tight, graphics are excellent, sound effects are varied and the music is great. At $20, the game is a steal and I would’ve had no qualms about paying $50 for a game this good.
The bottom line, If you love side-scrolling shooters, you need to buy this game. It’s excellent is every aspect and you won’t regret it for an instant. I know I haven’t.