Jett Rocket II: The Wrath of Taikai is a platformer for the Nintendo 3DS via the eShop. Shin’en Multimedia developed the game as a sequel to the 2010 WiiWare game Jett Rocket. The developer’s most recent games are Nano Assault EX for the 3DS and Nano Assault Neo for the Wii U.
Shin’en’s Nano Assault series has been a delightful eShop surprise, but the developer’s talent for fun shoot ‘em up games does not translate to the platformer genre. Jett Rocket II manages some to throw in some mildly interesting segments, but the game on the whole suffers from imprecise controls and bland level design.
The mechanics will not be unfamiliar to anyone acquainted with the platformer genre. The titular explorer can jump to clear various platforming games and challenges. He can perform a somersault to attack enemies or compensate for a lack of a double jump. The explorer can also execute a wall jump to hop from wall to wall to reach a new area. The platforming foundation is a bit muddled due to the main character only having a singular jump bolstered by his somersault attack to put him over high gaps or hurdle across long distances. This leads to a general imprecision with the platforming controls because the somersault/jump combo is sometimes unresponsive, resulting in damage, death or repeating sections over and over. Luckily, the checkpointing is not terrible and there is really no consequence to dying and restarting a new level. However, some of the platforming sequences would be greatly benefited from a proper double jump.
Outside of the basic somersault combat and platforming elements, the game throws in special power-ups for explorers to use. At the explorer’s disposal are a jetpack, spinning platforms and a diving helmet. These specific power-ups are used in the game’s various worlds to reach new areas in levels. He uses the jetpack to reach heights unattainable with a normal jump, double jump or wall jump. The issue with the jetpack is a lack of responsiveness. There is a delay from button input to jetpack action making its usefulness in a quick save little to none.
The spinning platforms are discs that the explore utilizes to create pathways to new heights, but it serves the same purpose as the jetpack, except it is a little bit more reliable due to its specific pathways. The diving helmet lets the explorer plummet into deep waters to explore flooded areas. He has a breath limit, so he either needs to surface for air or pick up a new helmet to continue underwater. The controls for the diving helmet are like moving through pudding with full body armor. Outside of these power-ups’ obvious uses, they are the best way to get the game’s various secrets, which are pictures, extra lives, more solar cells and bonus levels. Players should manage them if they want to explore all the nooks and crannies of the game.
The game’s structure breaks up between three worlds each with five levels and a boss fight, and mini-games in between. While the platforming sections are not great, the boss fights are fun and worthwhile. Jett Rocket II occasionally tries to mix in bullet hell/shoot ‘em up elements into the game, mainly in the boss fights. While the imprecise controls and character’s sluggishness make them a chore to deal with, they are interesting. If the character moved at a much faster speed or always had a jetpack with free vertical movement, they might have worked better.
Mini-games do not suffer from the control issues that plague platforming, but they are fairly basic and not particularly compelling. The controls really hurt this game. If the platforming sections were a little tighter, Jett Rocket II might be a fun eShop game. However, as it stands, it is kind of a chore to barrel through.
Graphics and Sound
Jett Rocket II is not terrible looking, but compared to other eShop titles and the heavy hitters the 3DS offered this year, it pales in comparison. The level design is generally pretty bland in the three worlds. Often, each level in a world features a similar background with minor geography changes to offer somewhat different platforming challenges. Occasionally, there are levels that move away from the side-scrolling set up to full 3D. Those become a headache due to the camera. Despite being free-roaming, the camera becomes a problem when trying to focus on the controls and swivel the camera. Much like all the other exciting moments in Jett Rocket II, these levels suffer from minor execution issues.
Jett Rocket II: The Wrath of Taikai is not categorically bad, but a poor control scheme and off-putting level design ruins whatever promise the game shows. On a system still dominated by the grandfather of platformers, Jett Rocket II does not manage to make a compelling riff on the genre. At its core, it has some good ideas, but they never come together due to the imprecision of the controls. Games taking on the platformer genre tend to play with the core mechanics in a specific way to put their stamp on the formula, either through a novel gameplay mechanic or a punishingly rewarding difficulty, but Jett Rocket II accomplishes neither. So, it is a rote exploration of the platformer genre without the visual flair or charm to make it standout in a bloated genre.