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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (42937)
Written on  :  Oct 31, 2020
Platform  :  VIC-20
Rating  :  4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars

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A very good version of Jetpac, but with some faults

The Good

Contrary to what some people might think, Jetpac was not Ultimate’s debut title. That honor goes to Dingo, an arcade game nobody has heard of. The company decided that arcade titles were not their thing, and started turning their attention to the ZX Spectrum. One of Jetpac’s selling points was its simplicity.

As Jetman, you need to gather parts of your rocket ship and drop them down into your rocket ship. When you manage to get all the parts, you must also get some fuel canisters to power it up. Once you have collected these as well, you then make your way inside the rocket and fly off to the next level. Sounds easy? Think again. Flying through the screen are various nasties that must be avoided at all costs. Items can be collected for bonus points. Originally released for the ZX Spectrum, the game was later ported to the VIC-20 and BBC Micro.

Although using the joystick makes controlling Jetpac much easier, it is good that Ultimate catered to those users without one. The game’s low resolution means that the sprites are quite big, and there are a lot of zingy sound effects as you thrust and blast your way through each level. The animations are very good; I like how the rocket flashes pink to indicate that you can enter it, and the launching of the rocket – complete with thruster engines – is spot on.

The Bad

The VIC-20 version is quite difficult. You always start each level on the bottom-most platform, which appears to be invisible, and you can’t get up to the higher ones without losing a life, as too many enemies are blocking the way up.

There is also some poor collision detection in some places. When a fuel canister is dropping down, sometimes it won’t connect with Jetman and you are forced to get said canister before another one can appear. There are even times when, while shooting at an enemy, my shot will go straight through it rather than destroying it.

The Bottom Line

Jetpac is a timeless classic that anyone should have in their collection. The VIC-20 version of the game is quite good, but it suffers from its high difficulty and questionable collision detection. Rare’s owner, Microsoft, looked back through Ultimate’s catalog once upon a time and found out that its simplicity was why it was successful, and released a remake only for Xbox 360, leaving PC users to go find one somewhere else.

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