The bullet hell genre has been around for quite a while now and in its wake has left us with quite a few wonderful titles. These games often combine the refined and tight controls synonymous with the modern era of gaming with a chaotic and frantic core gameplay style more akin to arcade titles of old. Think 1942, 1943 – The Battle of Midway and 1944 – The Loop Master – as the earliest and best examples of this style! What I wouldn’t give to be 15 years old with a pocket full of quarters again 🙂
This has become a rather saturated field but arguably no other title of this nature leans into the arcade vibe more than Jetboard Joust.
This game plays like Resogun, Dead Nation, Alienation or Nex Machima thanks to its frantic and busy on-screen projectiles, enemies and hulking bosses offering a real challenge for even the most seasoned arcade veteran.
Important note: This game does not allow you to use your mouse to shoot, so prepare for a sore right forearm!
Let’s talk about how this game presents itself first of all. It uses a mesh of vibrant colours, dynamic animations and incredible sound effects to bring this pixellated world to life. When a developer takes this artistic approach, it can go one of two ways. It can come across as lazy as if it was chosen as a less time-consuming option.
However, it can also come across as charming such as games like Fez, Uncanny Valley or Undertale. This game falls into the latter category, nailing the aesthetic and providing enough care, attention and detail to justify the retro choice.
Frantic, fast-paced action
The gameplay is exactly what you would expect and more from a title such as this. You’ll get the predictable moments such as shooting mindlessly at hordes of smaller enemies, dodging particles that aim to stop you in your tracks and collecting coins as you go. However, there is more here than meets the eye.
You’ll have a progression system that offers several additional items, perks and weapons for the job at hand, with some offering some really brilliantly handled mechanics. These help to shake up the gameplay, keep things fresh and adds more tactical approaches for the player.
Then in addition to this, you have the boss battles that raise this ‘Space Invaders on acid’ gameplay to all-new levels of intensity. These behemoths will go out of their way to stop you succeeding and have a variety of intricate attack patterns that will have you pulling your hair out as you try to memorize their ways and defeat them.
It’s another reason why this game is more than just your run of the mill bullet hell adventure. There may be no real story to speak of but when the gameplay is this addictive, who cares?
Is this game deep and meaningful? Not at all. Does it have staggering visuals or never before seen mechanics and features? Again, no. However, this game does the bullet hell genre justice with a brilliantly addictive and tightly controlled experience with progression and loss battles that are more than enough to keep you engaged.
This game is a brilliant, chaotic, and addictive button mashing good time that will have you coming back to play over and over again.