ZX Spectrum Jetpac A classic ZX Spectrum game from those classic developers Ultimate (Play The Game), Jetpac must be the amongst best games you could get for a 16K Spectrum.
After this game (if my memory serves) Ultimate only developed for 48K ZX Spectrum's (and above - once the later models came out).
Jetpac was the first in a series of arcade games to feature the character Jetman (see ZX Spectrum Game Characters) and was the first game to be released by Ultimate (in 1983).
Jetpac is also a classic game for being one of the first titles to be available on ROM format (ROM's loaded up data to the ZX Spectrum in an instant via Sinclair Interface II)
Now that we've got all that out of the way, onto the game...
Jetpac begins with our space-faring hero Jetman on an alien world. His rocket ship is lying around the wrap around screen in three seperate stages. Deadly aliens roam around the screen and contact with them means instant death - and the loss of one of your three lives.
Three platforms are dotted around the screen which Jetman can stand on. Jetman can walk along the ground and platforms - but by using his jetpac can zip around the screen in all directions quickly.
What was immediately apparent was the nice gravity and inertia effect as you jetted around. With the screen being 'wrap around' if you exited left then you would appear on the right hand side and vice-versa. Pretty neat.
To escape the planet you had to build the rocket by adding the two stages to the base which was parked at the bottom of the screen. Once the rocket was built cannisters of fuel would drop down onto the screen randomly and you had to pick them up (they could be collected in mid-air) and drop them onto the rocket.
The rocket would start to 'fill up' in colour, it took five cannisters to fuel it completely. Bonus items such as gem stones also fall down and can be collected for extra points - but you don't have to pick them up to complete the level.
Once the rocket was fueled you could fly into it and it would take off before landing on the next (identical) screen.
Each screen has different types of aliens to contend with - all with different behaviour patterns (rather than just being different graphics). Some aliens home in on you (annoying buggers!) whilst some rapidly fly across the screen.
Luckily Jetman is also armed with a powerful laser which can be fired in the direction he is facing - and can even be fired 'wrap around' meaning you could fire it to the left 'edge' of the screen and it would appear on the right hand side! Very cool stuff indeed.
The rocket only has to be contructed on the first screen - it stayes together on subsequent screens until eventually it changes into a different model. Now the new model has to be built and stays built until the next one, and so on...
Jetpac is one of those 'never ending' games, eventually you will have seen all of the alien types (if you're a very good player of course) and you begin back with the aliens from level one.
When it was released in 1983 Jetpac was a revelation. Ultimate had created a simple platform cum shooter which featured nice gravity effects, basic enemy AI and a superb wrap around screen - all within 16K of memory! Gamers loved Jetpac and it put Ultimate play the game firmly on the map. The follow up to Jetpac was eagerly awaited.
The test of time:
Jetpac is a very simple yet still surprisingly playable game. The controls are nice and responsive and the inertia effect works perfectly. Things can get hectic while you try to shoot the aliens, collect the bonus items, pick up the fuel... All in all, Jetpac is a true classic game and the fact that it was squeezed into a paltry 16K of memory makes us bow down and worship at the feet of Tim and Chris Stamper. Jetman also became a bit of a cult ZX Spectrum character over the next few years. Give it a go - it's still addictive!
Unfortunately Ultimate: play the game titles are not availabe for download - so get yourself a ZX Spectrum and play it for real - you won't be able to play this one online!
GENRE: Platform Game (Arcade Game)
RELEASE DATE: 1983
RELEASED BY: Ultimate Play The Game
DEVELOPER(S): Tim Stamper, Chris Stamper
PRICE: £5.50 (cassette) £14.95 (microdrive) - UK
Jetman builds his rocket and fuels it up in yet another classic arcade game...
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