Jetpac By Ultimate on ZX Spectrum
This game brings back memories of going to WHSmiths to browse the latest Spectrum games on a Saturday morning. Jetpac had just been released and I had enough money for a game, and this was the one I chose. After hurrying home on the bus, setting up the cassette player and plugging the Spectrum into the TV (World Of Sport had just finished so my dad had already had his wrestling quota with Mick McManus and Kendo Nagasaki for the week) Pressing j (brings up the command “load”) and then two quotes, then enter and play on the tape deck, I waited for the 3 minutes or so while the game loaded and the blue and yellow / blue and red stripes fizzed over the edges of the screen.
Loading it today you get the feeling that the loading screen is a waste of time as it seems to be all that is happening as the screen builds up during the screeching of the tape. But eventually the loading completes and the game gives you the options of 1 or 2 players, keyboard or joystick control. Pressing 4 allows you to use your Kempston joystick, and then number 5 starts the game.
Your mission is to rebuild your rocket by flying around the platforms using your jetpack to collect the parts as they appear. Then the fuel packs appear one by one to be collected and dropped on the ship to fuel it up. Along the way extras are dropped such as gold bars and gems. The difficulty is controlling your jetpac with the up button and remembering that changes in direction will involve a little inertia so it won’t be immediate. Add in the hazards which impede your progress, and it becomes a difficult game. After level one the rocket stays together for a few levels so all you’re doing is collecting fuel while avoiding the harder aliens, but the platforms on the field are always in the same place making that aspect of the game a little boring. Every few levels gives you a new rocket ship to build from parts.
In the first level all you have to avoid is the asteroids which come from all directions but remain on a straight path as they come in and exploding on impact with the ground or platforms. The second level has fuzzy aliens bouncing in, they will bounce off of objects and change direction making them much harder to avoid. There are severl different types of aliens as the levels progress including hovering arrow like ones which suddenly fly across the screen, and some which will home in on you. Keep on avoiding the aliens and building and filling rockets to get higher scores as you go through the levels.
Jetpac is a great playable game, the Spectrum version has large colourful graphics and beepy sounds as you’d expect. The player moves smoothly and the controls are easy to get used to. The Spectrum colour clash is there in abundance too. After all these years Jetpac by Ultimate Play The Game still deserves a solid 7 out of 10.