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Jetpac (1983)            

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Details (Sinclair ZX Spectrum) Supported platforms Artwork and Media
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Ultimate Play the Game
Arcade
Tim Stamper, Chris Stamper
16K
1-2 (alternating)
Kempston
Eng
N/A
Audio cassette
UK (£5.50)
Lunar Jetman
Official game poster, Instructions
Re-released by Sinclair Research and Ricochet in the UK (£1.99)

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Commodore VIC-20  7.2
Sinclair ZX Spectrum  10




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Issue 4
Added: 3 Jan 2010

JETPAC


(Ultimate)

Situations Vacant
Wanted: Space Test Pilot
Qualifications: Rocket Pilot Licence, elementary technical knowledge and Award of Merit from League of Blasted Aliens
Special Details: Volunteer required to assemble and launch test vehicles.

Dangerous conditions (hordes of homicidal entities alien to all known galaxies), but good rewards for initiative can be acquired through a 10% commission on all minerals secured. (High profits assured on every trip.) Lengthy experience in laser weaponry required, strong nerves essential, and a preference for working alone. Xenophobiacs preferred, a pathological tendency to blast everything in sight helpful. Certificate of Insanity not mandatory but also helpful.

Can you fulfil the above criteria and become the Ultimate test-pilot? This job is not for the faint hearted or for those with lethargic reflexes. The task itself is simple enough; as sole test pilot for the Acme Interstellar Transport Company you have to assemble a space ship which is conveniently distributed in bits on the planet surface while fighting off hordes of maniacal aliens. Once assembled the test-pilot must wait for fuel supplies to descend from the heavens or he can supplement his income by collecting the various gems that also accompany the fuel supplies. The screen display shows the planet surface, the rocket parts awaiting assembly and three ledges at various heights. The screen has a wrap around effect which enables the jetman's laser to leave and re-enter the screen at opposite points. The aliens are of different colours, and their numbers are supplemented by new arrivals to prevent you from feeling lonely.

Your jetman can negotiate 16 screens and assemble four space ships before the game begins to repeat itself, but getting there is a difficult task as the aliens vary from subnormal laser-fodder to vicious intelligent hunters who follow you around the screen. None of the aliens is armed but collision is usually fatal.

It is easy to see why Jetpac turned Ultimate into a household name virtually overnight; even now it stands out amongst the plethora of mediocre arcade clones. The presentation of the game is excellent, it loads reliably under a beautifully designed title-page which shows almost exactly the cassette inlay illustration. The keyboard controls and the game itself are comprehensively covered within the inlay; however, the program, once loaded, gives you a choice between keyboard and joystick controls, or between one and two players.

The graphics are colourful and the test-pilot jetman with a rocket pack on his back is accurately drawn with remarkable attention to detail. The animation of the jetman is superb and his movement in flight, and that of the aliens, is very smooth indeed. My favourite piece of animation is when the fully fuelled rocket blasts off for another planet with the frustrated aliens hopping about angrily in the flames from the rocket's afterburners. The smoothly animated multicoloured laser blasts and the variform aliens are very eye-catching as well.

The only criticism with this cassette (if one is hypercritical) is with the sound, which is adequate without being exceptional, and with no catchy tunes being played.

In appraising this game it is difficult to find any real faults. The game is easily played with either the keyboard or joystick. The high-resolution colour graphics and excellent animation routines make full use of the Spectrum's capabilities. Ultimate have gone a long way towards creating the perfect arcade-quality game, and at only £5.50 my verdict is rush out and buy it before Ultimate realise that it's grossly under priced.
Unknown
RetroBrothers
Added: 21 Sep 2010
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.

The rocket is built in Jetpac ZX Spectrum 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.

On Release:
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
Unknown

Added: 18 Nov 2015
Jetpac was released in May 1983. It reached the top of the WH Smith Top Ten list at the beginning of August 1983.
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Trivia

Trivia
Jetpac was one of the very few Spectrum games also available in ROM format for use with the Interface 2, allowing "instantaneous" loading of the game when the normal method of cassette loading could take several minutes.
It won the "Game of the Year" title at the Golden Joystick Awards in 1983.
The game used the common technique of placing planar sprites with image sprites atop another, which often created graphical errors and overlapped colours on both ZX Spectrum and BBC Micro versions of the game.
The game was also able to run on the 16K version of the Spectrum.
Jetpac also inspired several clones and unofficial remakes, such as Archer MacLean's Atari 800 game DropZone, which was released the following year after Jetpac.
The game sold a total of 300,000 units for the ZX Spectrum and generated 1 million in revenue for Ultimate Play The Game, which enabled the Stamper brothers to gain a foothold in the early video gaming market.

Remakes

NamePlatformAuthorDateDetails
Jet PacWindows

History


This title was first added on 6th October 2009
This title was most recently updated on 26th March 2017


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