It feels like only yesterday that I wrote a news piece on Jet Lancer, but today I can give you the lowdown on what it’s actually like.
You knew I’d say that, right?
Retro-style shooters are two-a-penny, so what makes this any different?
Let’s find out in the…
…Jet Lancer Switch Review
When I first saw the early screenshots, I wouldn’t say I was blown away but could see that it had a charm to it.
Little did I know just how fresh Jet Lancer is.
From the opening sequence, I could see a silhouette of my jet fighter and told to fire up the thruster, I was sold.
It was like Top Gun and Days of Thunder rolled into one, and that’s not because I’m a Tom Cruise fan as such, just the epic feeling that something great was going to happen.
The cinematic element in Jet Lancer remains throughout – which was a bit of a surprise as the actual gameplay visuals are almost the opposite of a cinematic display; they’re small, quirky and very much retro.
With most shooters like this, i.e. Wings of Fury or Rogue Aces, the story is pretty thin, and the focus is on the gameplay – and rightly so.
However, Jet Lancer builds on this, and while it won’t win Best Actor awards, the background story was enjoyable.
Despite being set in the somewhat near future, it had a certain Battle of the Planets vibe to it.
Jet Set Radio
Concluding with the story aspects, you play top fighter pilot Ash – one of the top mercs in town, ready for hire to take out sky pirates.
Throughout the missions, you’ll get incoming calls from allies, and primarily your employer, giving you tasks as you go along.
The majority of the objectives are taking out the enemy, but there are also protection of assets type missions and hacking radio towers by flying within proximity to them for a set amount of time.
Between missions, you control the carrier where your jet will dock, moving in a 3D environment to get to the next objective.
It’s not entirely a sandbox game, but you don’t have to do the missions in order, but you will need to complete so many before taking on the boss.
Boss stages in Jet Lancer are absolutely brilliant – they’re proper bullet hell; evading attacks while launching your own is a multi-tasking event that will blow the socks off your significant other.
See, you can do more than one thing at once.
But this is like talking about the stadium, half-time and refreshments rather than the actual game – how does it play?
Controlling your jet is an exciting feat.
At first, I wasn’t completely sold as you have to hold down the thrusters (ZR) to move, releasing the button has your jet fall out of the sky.
However, you won’t necessarily hit the dirt, and it ends up being a decent little evasive technique and helps with planning your assaults.
Attacking enemies is similar to games like Rogue Aces where you hold down the A button to shoot in the direction of the jet’s nose, so you have to fly at your opponents to aim.
There are other special weapons unlocked through progress, but the starting missiles are excellent.
Unlike the standard fire, the missiles are homing missiles, and they effortlessly hunt down your enemies, destroying them and are enormously satisfying confetti-like fireworks display.
That sounded better in my head.
It’s quite possibly the most enjoyable destruction I’ve been a part of in a game of late.
When the enemies get a little overwhelming, you can hold down the missile button (L) and a barrage of projectiles will take them out in one go, pending you’re within proximity.
However, nothing is more satisfying that the evasive manoeuvers.
Get Outta Dodge
For a brief time, I was my own worst enemy; often losing health not through the enemy attacks but crashing into them.
Then the barrel roll was introduced.
Press the B button in time and Ash will perform a brief, but indispensable roll that will provide temporary invulnerability to attacks and some collisions.
To say the technique is amazing is an understatement.
As you progress, you’ll encounter the bosses mentioned earlier, and they have a great deal of health and hit relatively hard.
Without the dodge, it would be unbearable, so these dog fights end up being enjoyable through and through apart from one very slight issue: gravity.
Everyone knows that Isaac Newton pulled off a dick move when he invented gravity – we had no need for it before.
As you’re flying an expensive bit of kit through the skies, come off the thrust for a moment or two, or let go of the afterburner (ZL) and your jet will fall to the ground.
The earlier stages are ok, but when you fight in-land, and there are a lot of enemies, it’s quite hard to control at times – especially with the hacking missions and wave after wave are attacking you.
That said, the gravity element isn’t the same as real-life as you have a hover feature unlike say Wings of Fury where you would hit the deck.
Overall though, this is a minor issue and improves with practice.
Additionally, after finishing a level, you are ranked on your performance, with Ace being the top score.
I’m going with that as I received that moniker. Once.
On that basis, there’s plenty of replay value – whether it be for improving your score or showing off to your mates.
Jet Lancer is a thoroughly enjoyable shooter, and the added narrative and in-between carrier sections add more weight to an already excellent title.
A review code was supplied for this piece. Though was no threat of being ejected out of a jet fighter at height, so was comfortable in taking my time to give this honest review.
A culmination of arcade shooters from Defender to Asteroids, Wings of Fury to Rogue Aces, Jet Lancer is the pinnacle of retro shoot 'em ups and a must for any fan of the genre with the bonus of a story too!
- Once mastered, the controls are great!
- Enemy engagement is immensely satisfying.
- One of the best evasion techniques in a game.
- Until you master them, the controls can be tricky!
- Can get a little repetitive in some places.
- Some will love it, but I wasn't a fan of the music.