I was obsessed with staying on top of the best iOS games in the early days of the iPhone — titles like the original Angry Birds, Hook Champ, and Ridiculous Fishing — but most mobile games have shifted at one time- and money to free-to-play models. Like, I’ve largely stopped playing them. I already have enough entertainment to juggle; Managing yet another free-to-play game isn’t tempting.
But to my surprise, I found myself opening the Jetpack Joyride 2 when I had a few minutes to burn. This also happened during my dedicated video game playing time. Over the course of a few days, I couldn’t stop collecting coins, dodging missiles, upgrading my gear, and getting as far as I could through each level.
Jetpack Joyride 2 is an Apple Arcade-exclusive sequel to Jetpack Joyride, one of my all-time favorite mobile games. (Maybe it shouldn’t surprise me that I love it.) The core of Jetpack Joyride 2 is the same as before: your character equipped with a jetpack will automatically descend a hallway as you jet up and down to collect Will do good and dodge obstacles. As you complete missions and collect currency, you’ll be able to upgrade your gear and buy new items and in-game gear.
But the sequel mixes things up in a few major ways. Jetpack Joyride 2 adds enemies you’ll have to combat as you dodge obstacles like missiles and power lines – but the new game also gives you a gun and special weapons to take out baddies. And while the original was an infinite runner, meaning the primary goal was to survive as long as possible, in Jetpack Joyride 2, you’ll try to get a certain distance in individual levels.
Switching levels really got me hooked. Levels usually take just a few minutes to finish, and at the end of each, you’ll try a bonus challenge to get some extra coins or fight a boss of some sort. (There’s a Mega Man-like warning alert in front of the bosses that always makes me smile.) The structure made it easy for me to attempt a level when I had little time, or, if I knew I’d be playing for a while. I can often take a bunch in a row. More than once, I told myself I’d just play through one more level but actually work through three.
That drive to just keep going is fueled by the many upgrades in the game that you can invest in. You can improve a lot of things including your health, firepower, vehicles and power-ups. You can also upgrade the “factory” which passively farms some in-game currencies. And even though there’s a fair amount of stuff to boost, I was almost always able to boost at least a few things after each run, which helped me feel like I was constantly on the move.
The Jetpack Joyride 2’s economy is also designed to naturally scale with your progress. It’s different from many other mobile games, which can be weighted in such a way that you’ll want to spend real money so you don’t have to grind for currency. Apple Arcade games don’t have in-app purchases, which means developers have an opportunity to be more thoughtful about in-game economies – and I think Jetpack Joyride 2 is a model to emulate.
My biggest disappointment with the Jetpack Joyride 2 is that it ended much quicker than I would have liked. There were 30 levels in the build I played, and when I beat the last one after about five hours of total playtime, things came to an end.
While the in-game map has a message that more levels are “coming soon”, Apple spokeswoman Jennifer Tam said the company has nothing to share about when the new levels might become available. . I can still play through the final level or grind out some small arcade challenges for more in-game currency, but since I’ve already “beaten” the game, there’s no reason not to do so.
Despite the abrupt ending, I still liked Jetpack Joyride 2 more than any mobile game in years. If you’re at all interested, I think it’s worth being able to pay the $4.99 monthly fee for Apple Arcade. Depending on when developer Halfbrick adds new levels, Jetpack Joyride 2 might not offer you much more than just a month’s worth of paying. But whenever new levels appear, you can bet I’ll jump right back in.