In terms of racing games, my interest lies mainly in those titles that give the player all sorts of tricks and obstacles to get through. It started years ago, way back in 1990 with Stunt Driver. I only got the game a few years after its release, but as a wee lad I spent countless hours doing vertical loops and weaving in and out of various hazards. Many years later saw the creation of TrackMania, a series with a similar premise which gobbled up even more of my time. This particular genre of racing game was translated to mobile devices in the form of Jet Car Stunts in 2009. The title has since been remade into versions for the PC and Xbox 360 which released earlier this year. It’s now available on the Vita and PlayStation 3, and it does a decent enough job of encapsulating the fast paced stunt racing I enjoy – with a bit of its own unique flair too.
There are no forced tutorials when starting the game. It allows you to dive right into the action if you are a fan and know what you are doing. Having only played the game briefly on my phone many years ago, I decided to touch up on the basics once more. It was a smart move, because the vehicle at your disposal doesn’t handle like any ordinary car. There is a jet attached to it after all.
Holding down the right trigger initiates the jet boost, kicking the vehicle into breakneck speeds. In order to manage this velocity, players need to make use of the air brake. This may sound perfectly ordinary, except that this brake doesn’t work quite how you think. Sure, it slows you down, but it also allows you to guide your vehicle or compensate for a poorly faced jump – at least to a certain extent.
By some sort of sorcery, all the tracks are situated high in the sky. It sure looks pretty, right till the point when it is swallowing you up because you took that one corner just a little too enthusiastically. That or you took a ramp too quickly/slowly. You will meet your demise many times, I guarantee it. Thankfully, there are checkpoints throughout each track. Driving through one not only saves your progress so far on that particular level, but also tops up your vehicles jet fuel which has limited use.
Lastly, there are three game modes to race around in – Platforming, Time Trial, and Collector. Platforming tracks are simply a matter of getting from point A to B in the fastest time possible. They are more technical, requiring the right balance of precision and control to get through them. I forgot all about trying to get the best time possible, reaching the end was the real challenge! Time Trial is a little easier, tasking the player with driving around the tracks 5 times, trying to beat the clock that is constantly counting down. These are enjoyable, with the jet being used like 80% of the time throughout. Collector was my least favourite mode. These tracks have stars throughout, located in the most bizarre places imaginable. This mode is probably more appealing to those veterans who know how to handle the car like The Stig. I on the other hand ignored it completely (after trying it out of course). It just wasn’t for me.
The driving itself in Jet Car Stunts is a joy. This is not a technical game by any means. You can race around corners at insane speeds, and your tyres will always hold while you casually drift around them. The air brake not only comes in handy mid jump, but also during these normal racing bits. You can fly into a corner, activate the brake at the last second, get a neat racing line, and nail the bend effortlessly. What I found most satisfying was finding that line and then activating the jet boost. It’s perfect for short bursts of racing action, which is why I chose to review it on the Vita. I liked the idea of those quick vroom sessions being right in my pocket.
What the game does lack though is variety. Yes, there are the different game modes, but all that makes these tracks different or harder is the fact that platforms become more narrow, jumps require extra precision, and the cornering becomes trickier. I understand that this is a remake of a mobile game, I just feel that it would’ve been better to take that general concept and really build on it, especially considering that there was extra console power to play with.
I just kept thinking about titles like TrackMania where riding along a wall or on the ceiling is not unheard of. For me, Jet Car Stunts really lacked that sort of thing. Granted, there are some vertical loops for example… they’re just not frequent, and I never got that feeling of “wow, I pulled it off!” at any point in the game.
There is so much room for community involvement in this title. Each time can be uploaded, and a player can compare theirs with others worldwide. This is a nice touch, yet all I could keep thinking was how there is a distinct lack of a track creator. A title like this could really benefit from such a feature, extending the shelf life thanks to the inclusion of community created content.
Again, it’s a mobile title being moved over to consoles. There is so much extra room for improvement which sadly wasn’t utilised.That being said, this is not a premium priced game. It’s all yours for only R99. It’s not the longest title, but there certainly is a good few hours of racing packed into it…and some of them may even be spent having fun.
Last Updated: November 10, 2014