REVIEW: Jupiter & Mars

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

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Jupiter and Mars Cover
Title Jupiter & Mars
Developer Tigertron
Publisher Tigertron
Release Date April 22nd, 2019
Genre First Person VR
Platform PS4, PSVR
Age Rating E
Official Website

Jupiter & Mars is uniquely different, as there’s many things going for it. Some bring with them a real life message about our environment and being eco friendly, but then it has other things bringing it down and stopping it from being as good as well intentioned developer Tigertron, I believe, could’ve made it. Since there’s nothing here that really lends itself one way or the other, it’s definitely a mixed bag. Many Ecco the Dolphin jokes had to be passed up.

Jupiter | Swim

The controls are going to be the most controversial issue for me, as I do not have a PSVR headset. I understand completely that this is intended to be viewed as a VR experience, and for the most part, yeah, I agree. This is designed to be explored and looked around in with free 360 degree movement using two points of controller contacts at once, controlling the titular Jupiter & Mars. In the event of the absence of the headset you can play it with a controller, like I did, but you’ll have a likely diminished experience. It’s not so much that it’s bad on controller, it’s not. Everything works fine and with enough practice you’ll get the hang of it, but it definitely has a sluggishness that accompanies it that just really feels like a controller is not the way this particular game is meant to be played. You swim forward and backwards with R2 and L2, you can emit sonar waves to ping specific items in the world like breakable rocks, which can be busted by your AI dolphin companion, often hiding treasures.

Graphically, Jupiter & Mars strives for more draw distances and colors than higher quality textures and such. Even in some of the game’s patch notes it makes it a point to mention that on the PS4 Pro the draw distance has been drastically increased. Not to say the textures are bad but you’re supposed to absorb all the environments and visual fidelity in one complete picture, I feel. This does that just right. When presented with the natural vastness of the ocean and all the schools of fish and huge nautical wildlife, it manages to capture the variety and diversity of the creatures of the sea very well with their environments. 

Jupiter | Underwater Life

Seaweed and coral floats daintily as you swim by them, some of them retracting into the ground, so that’s a good touch. Environmental interaction is always a plus. The bright blueness of the ocean and the neon colors you’ll find at its bottom are always a treat to watch. I imagine this looking really beautiful when played on an HDR television, or… well, the PSVR. Though I will say, even without using the PSVR this triggered my vertigo hardcore and made me uneasy at times. So if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing, just be aware it’s here too.

The story, however, is where it Jupiter & Mars is kinda lacking. It takes place in a world where we, the human species, didn’t listen to all the warnings that nature was telling us, with climate change and such, so the rising sea levels wiped us out. Through press and commentaries the developers have discussed the message and how the importance of environmentalism can impact not only our lives, but the lives of the creatures around us. Specifically our friends in the ocean. Thus, the story of events unfolds in giving you tasks such as removing plastic from baby turtles and bringing them back to their mother, or going through once human occupied structures. This is in no way bad, as it works with the message they’re trying to give, but they don’t do anything different with it that you haven’t already seen somewhere else. Maybe it would’ve done better if they kept the whole thing more ambiguous and maybe kept it a bit more abstract it could’ve had more of an impact on me. I could totally see this being someone else’s jam, though, as it’s ultimately about the message.   

Jupiter | Neon

The music of Jupiter & Mars is fairly acceptable, given the kind of game in which is shares its existence. Lots of electronic beats and soft synths to amplify a feeling of mysticism and wonder as you swim across the sea. It works well enough, nothing too outstanding but it gets the point across. It’s not really meant to be the focus, though, as it’s more the environment and world you’re exploring that you’ll be focusing on. But the tunes are good filler for the backdrop.

All and all, Jupiter & Mars brings with it a very good message and an eco friendly agenda, but forgets to bring a game worthy of that message with it. It even has videos in the game advertising nautical wildlife preserves and their association with this, so it’s pretty clearly meant to bring with it a message. The intent of the message, however, is a very positive one. It almost feels a little like a movie game, except this one has no movie. Whether that’s good enough reason to drop some money on this $25 PS Store title, I’ll leave up to you. I do believe some of the proceeds made from the sales goes to the nature organizations it’s associated with, so you can take comfort in the fact you also donated to charity. Sounds like a win win to me.

Review Score
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