The original Jetpack Joyride was released in 2011 and was a massive mobile hit for developer Halfbrick, which was already having great success with Fruit Ninja in 2010. The game has been ported to many platforms including PlayStation consoles, and was still receiving updates just a month ago. Even for hits, sequels aren’t inevitable in the world of mobile games, as most of them are treated as ongoing platforms, but over a year ago Halfbrick surprisingly announced Jetpack Joyride 2… then it disappeared.
Despite a trailer and official channels sharing details about the game, Jetpack Joyride 2 went dark shortly after the announcement. Turns out the reason was that Halfbrick was working out the details with Apple to make it an Apple Arcade game. “We started making this game a long time ago. I think that was in 2020. And we soft-launched the game in three or four countries just for initial testing, but when we started the conversations with Apple Arcade, we felt that the best platform to develop this game was the Apple Arcade platform,” Francisco Gonzalez, Product Manager and Chief Game Designer, told us shortly after Apple announced the game would be coming to its subscription platform. “That way we could really make the game we wanted to make. We focused on making the game fun and for a while forgot about the business model and IAPs [in-app purchases].”
You still move left and right while dodging obstacles in Jetpack Joyride 2, but there are a lot of changes from the first game. as well as old favorites) mix up the action, but there’s one major confusion that changes the progression of the entire game. “It’s not an endless runner anymore. It’s a big change,” says lead artist Toni Martin.
Jetpack Joyride 2 features levels, bosses, and something increasingly rare in mobile space: an ending. “If you’re good enough, you’ll find out,” Gonzalez says. As you play the levels you have to reach a certain score threshold and when you do it starts a boss fight. The first boss, for example, appears in a giant mech suit and you have to dodge their missiles and aim for their weak spots while Barry fires. There are several bosses and labs available to explore as well as something called Factory Mode, which allows Barry to work with friendly scientists to set up a base, where you work on upgrades.
The art style is also different from the first game, moving away from the retro pixelation of the original and closer to more contemporary cartoon art and animation. “We did several tests to find the right style of play,” says Martin. The team wanted it to be closer to the animated shorts he created for YouTube, and the new style also allows for more fluidity and detail.
Between levels and upgrading, disasters also occur, which serve as side quests for Barry to complete. Gonzalez teased one where a sprawling monster attacks your base and needs to be fought. One of the new vehicles is also a spaceship that takes you into space to fight asteroids.
The new progression format creates room for story and dialogue. Barry Steakfires will have a backstory and there is a playable female version of Barry from an alternate universe named Betty Beefpies. Gonzalez pledges his role and the alternate universe will be explored in the game’s story.
Despite the endless runner legacy of the first game, Jetpack Joyride 2 will not have an endless mode at launch. “Endless Mode is something we know for sure some fans will ask for and it’s something we’re planning on,” Gonzalez says. “Of course our intention is to keep the game going over the next few months. We will be releasing updates and this will be one of the updates we add soon.
Along with ditching the endless runner aspect of the game for the sequel, the move to Apple Arcade means Halfbrick no longer has to worry about microtransactions or long-term monetization, which Gonzalez is very happy about. “In free-to-play, you have to add paywalls or you have to slow player progress – that’s something that doesn’t happen anymore,” Gonzalez says. “When you’re doing free-to-play, you have to spend a lot of your time thinking about monetization strategies, and with Apple Arcade that’s something we don’t need to worry about, we can so we just focus on creating the game we want.”
Jetpack Joyride 2 will launch on iOS devices including Mac and Apple TV (with controller compatibility across all platforms) for Apple Arcade on August 19, approximately 11 years after the first game was released.
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