Alberto Riol

wakalaka

Ever since the Xbox Live Arcade became popular with the advent of the Xbox 360, countless fans bombarded Rare with Scribes letters and interview questions regarding their involvement on the new 'platform'. Rare responded, vague as usual, with answers that basically resembled “Maybe; maybe not,” much to the dismay of Rare 360-owning fans, some of which who went through the Big DS Development Question of 2004.

Time came and went, and rumors in early 2007 indicated that a new IP would hit the Live Arcade that year. Soon, various sites reported that a remake of Jetpac titled Jetpac Refuelled was set to hit the Arcade. Microsoft prompted all the sites to take down the content, hoping that everyone would just miraculously forget the new Rare game. It’s the internet after all, right? A few weeks later, Rare officially revealed their “worst kept secret” on their website, later adding a release date and price for March 28th 2007 at 400 MS Points, respectively. That day has come and gone, so without further ado, MundoRare presents a review of Rare’s first (and hopefully not the last) downloadable game to date.

Jetpac Refuelled

After the game is downloaded, it begins with the Microsoft, Rare, and Ultimate: Play The Game logos fading out towards you until the title screen is finally presented. After you press A to prompt into the main menu, the game presents you with 7 options: Single Player, Multiplayer, Ultimate History, Leaderboards, Achievements, Help and Options, and Return To Arcade. Barring “Return To Arcade” and “Help and Options” (which is a menu to help with controls and such), everything else will be explained in terms of what is done and how it works.

First off is Single Player. When chosen, you begin with two modes: Refuelled, which is the brand new 2007 version, and Retro, which is (if you’ve played it back in 1983 or the version in Donkey Kong 64) the original version of Jetpac. In Retro mode, the game is available in its full glory, as mentioned in Major Nelson’s interview with two team members, including the title screen which was inexplicably absent in even Donkey Kong 64. For those unfamiliar, Jetpac presented you with the seemingly simple goal of recovering broken ship parts and fuel to escape off the alien planet to another alien planet until you succumb to the maneuvering aliens. It is still a fun time waster to this day, and an excellent way to learn the mechanics of Refuelled before playing it.

Refuelled, on the other hand, improves on Jetpac’s mechanics in every way. Then again, it can’t be difficult to improve on a 24 year old game that had the blips of the laser as “music” for the game back then, right? Refuelled begins exactly as Jetpac does: you recover broken ship parts and fuel on the alien land as you take off to another alien land. Along the way, you collect items that serve a much greater purpose than Jetpac’s items did.

One such item is the EMP, an item resembling the Blast Corps logo which, when used, radiates an explosion around you, destroying any enemies in your path when the going gets rough. A great way to clear lots of enemies, and in fact, a necessary good in the beginning of some of Refuelled’s many levels if you plan on conserving lives. The other item is the Laser Upgrade, a red cell that allows you to upgrade your single straight laser into a laser that shoots both horizontally and vertically to a laser that can shoot 3 directional lasers depending on the direction of the Control Stick. You can continue upgrading them until it becomes powerful, but you will always revert to that pattern of three until you get the most powerful laser upgrade.

Jetpac Refuelled

Also new to Refuelled is the ability to save every level where your mission is to recover broken spaceship parts. This new ability is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it’s great to have a save ability like that. On the other hand, it can get very old if you start on level 29 and make it to level 33 until you die and realize that you have to go through the same levels over again to reach the next save point. In my opinion, I believe the save point concept could’ve been better executed.

Multiplayer mode consists of a 5, 10, 15, or 20 match between another person in either a custom match or a ranked match in which your goal is to build your ship and collect fuel before the other person on your team does, cumulating points along the way. EMP’s can be used in Multiplayer, and serve the same purpose as it does in the Single Player mode, this time with the added bonus of possibly knocking a fuel cell from your competitor. You have an unlimited set of lives to continue, and you will know when you’re done when both of your characters blow up and a winner is revealed based on the number of total points. While a very fun mode to play, I do wish there were at least one more method of multiplayer gameplay. Perhaps letting the loser continue on fueling and building his ship after the winner has left him/her behind? Maybe a Survival Mode with each character having a designated amount of lives in the beginning, having to depend on yourself and the other player to preserve lives?

"Ultimate History" is a short manual presentation explaining the origins of Jetpac and various other Ultimate games and the impact they had at the time, while exploring the origins of the company itself. It’s a nice little bonus for anyone who is just beginning to find out about Rare’s games back when they were called Ultimate: Play The Game.

Leaderboards are simply, a place to see where you rank in the world of Jetpac Refuelled against random strangers and your friends. You can see where you rank in terms of your Retro gaming score, your Refuelled score, and your scores in multiplayer.

Achievements are where you can locate the various achievements able to be obtained in this game, from the achievement to beating the very first level in Refuelled to more difficult ones to acquire such as the Viral achievement.

Jetpac Refuelled

Graphics-wise, the title is very, very pretty as Rare standards have shown us over the years. The backgrounds look fantastic, the enemies are varied, and the lasers when shot and upgraded provide a very trippy feel, a la Geometry Wars.

The music contributes a very techno-ish beat to it. Composed by Steve Burke, the same man who’s responsible for the soundtrack in Kameo: Elements of Power, his tunes match the hypnotic and addictive feel this game has. I do wish that more tunes were implemented in the game, perhaps a different tune or a variation of the main level tune when progressing through levels. As nice as the song is, hearing it on repeat as you progress through Refuelled can have the possibility to get old fast. Then again, as mentioned, it beats the pants out of Jetpac’s original 1983 score (absolutely nothing in terms of music).

The main controls for this game took a lot of time to get used to, until I figured out the control scheme in which R is the trigger button, A is to fly around, and X or L unleashes the EMP in Refuelled. After you find the control scheme that fits your liking, the control becomes very intuitive and simple to use in both the original and Refuelled.

While I do believe that this is an impressive first Live Arcade title by Rare, I can’t help but get the feeling that if there was a bit more variation in multiplayer and perhaps a less consequential way of saving your progress in Refuelled, the game could receive a higher step in quality. Regardless, Jetpac Refuelled is a very worthy game to your Xbox 360 game collection, and as Rare’s cheapest game to date, there’s almost no excuse to not get it if you are a 360 owner with access to Xbox Live. If enough people buy this online, it may motivate Rare to produce more titles of this caliber and higher for the Xbox Live Arcade while we wait for their next big full-fledged 360 title.

Who knows? It may be the best five dollars you’ll ever spend.

Mark Mazzei's final verdict

"While very fun to play, I do wish there were at least one more method of multiplayer gameplay."

8 out of 10

Alberto Riol's second opinion

In 1999, inside DK64's cartridge, the original Jetpac proved that it could still appeal to hardcore graphics-whore players. But Rare took the right decision when they decided not just to put the classic on the Live Marketplace, but to revamp it with a whole new sequel with enhanced designs made by Wil Overton (the man after Joanna Dark's new look). Refuelled is not only a great update of Jetpac's simple but addictive mechanics, it features enough hard achievements to deal face to face with other recent Rare challenges, like DKRDS' balloon burst mode and Kameo's "A rank" scores. It's a pity that, despite being able to develop your own strategies through the levels, in essence there's no other goal that just recovering fuel and skipping to another alien planet until you complete the 128 levels, with an unusual (on Rare titles) check point every four stages. A deeper and more complex gaming experience would have been nice. But, anyway, isn't Arcade about simplicity?

7 out of 10

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