The first Jett Rocket was a good game. It was one of the few 3D platformers on the Wii Shop Channel, but was clearly well-made and easily in the top games on WiiWare. But it did have a few issues, which mostly seemed to stem from the camera and the overall length of the game. However, those were minor enough that the game won me over in spite of those gripes.
When I first heard about Jett Rocket II: Wrath of Taikai coming to the 3DS, I was hyped. It was one of the games I was looking forward to for 2013. And, I hoped that some of the issues that came up from the first game would either be ironed out or erased.
The camera is still an issue. I just couldn’t seem to get it in the right place to make the jump right, which left me with a feeling at some points that I couldn’t control Jett. But there are two caveats to that. One, it’s more of an issue with the 3DS’s design of having only one analog pad. I’m sure that, if a second pad was on the system (because no indie developer is going to make a game that requires an optional attachment that’s received minimal backing), Shin’en would’ve designed the camera better. At least, I would hope that would be the case. Second, the game isn’t just a straight 3D platformer. I’ll get to that in a bit.
As for the length, it’s pretty much on par with the first game. You’ve got 15 main levels split into three groups with a boss battle at the end of each grouping. In between the groups, you have an extra level focusing on riding jet boats and skydiving. After defeating the third boss, the game will then switch to a horizontal shooter to face Kaiser Taikai, the main villain. All total, it took about 3 hours to get through this.
It doesn’t seem like much, particularly when you see the quality around the game. So, how do they combat it? With collectable pictures to fill your image gallery, as well as a Mirror Mode after you complete the game. It’s interesting going from end to beginning of a level (still left to right) but, like with the Mighty Switch Force! series (a pair of eShop platformers that I’ve reviewed before), I wish there was more from the main game. Seeing a game of this quality come up short in length drives me nuts.
Other than that, the game is fine. The gameplay is as strong as it was in the original. A few things changed from the original to Wrath of Taikai. First and foremost, you don’t have the Jett Pack strapped on like before. Instead, it becomes part of a group of items that you will find along your way. Others items include a helmet to swim underwater and a hover board (or something like that). The only gripe I have is minor: the boss fights, while interesting, weren’t really memorable, save for the Kaiser Taikai fight when it completely switches gameplay. Other than that, it was all well done.
The controls are pretty good, in spite of the camera. You jump with A, Dash attack with B, Double Jump with A then B (you can also use this move to hit enemies from above), and hit Y to use items. The camera can be adjusted left or right with the L and R triggers. These controls work well for the most part. There is the issue with the camera, but that is lessened by the design in the game. Speaking of which…
Level design was pretty impressive. Instead of the full 3D gameplay that the original Jett Rocket had, Shin’en opted to include 2D gameplay as well as fixed camera 3D levels (in which the camera stays still, but you can still move around in 3D dimensions). This choice not only brought some variety to the levels but also covered up issues with the camera. The level design also reflects the changes in gameplay from constantly having the Jett Pack to picking up items along the way. Overall design was splendid, as well. The new design for Jett looked good, levels were colorful (except for one or two that were intentionally dark, only lighting up whenever Jett was around; think Super Mario World right before fighting Bowser), and the frame rate was incredibly smooth.
The music was also well done. The songs for every level work and drive you to complete the level. The only song I didn’t care much for was the one used on the title screen. Everything else was fine. I particularly liked the music for the horizontal shooter level at the end.
And if you’re worried about playing this game because you haven’t played the first, don’t worry. This game’s plot is about as deep as anything in a Mario game. While I’d recommend playing the original first, you don’t lose much when starting with Wrath of Taikai.
As a matter of fact, Jett Rocket II is set-up quite differently from the original. Levels unlock via completing levels. Instead of solar panels unlocking new areas, they act more as a currency in this game, which you can use for potential extra lives and extra hearts before levels by playing slot machines and pachinko. The panels also replenish when you come back versus being a set number that disappear when you collect them (like with Mutant Mudds).
Overall, Jett Rocket II: The Wrath of Taikai is solid game that, unfortunately, carried over the same problems that the original game had. However, it makes up for it in level design and extras to make the game worth the purchase. I am hyped for Jett Rocket III (confirmed in the credits).
Copy provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Jett Rocket II: The Wrath of Taikai is available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop for $8.99 in the US, €8.99 in mainland Europe, and £7.66 in the UK.