Are you up for a race against the clock where it’s more about using your thrust and gliding through the air than it is about racing? That’s Jet Car Stunts in a nutshell, a game that’s about the challenge and precision as you fly your stunt car from platform to platform hovering high in the sky. Its clean aesthetic makes it appealing to play and the game does ease you into challenges before it becomes too difficult. There’s a sense of joy to make it through a course on your last try, but be certain this is a game for a select few that enjoy the genre.
Even if your car looks like a red tank on four wheels, its light, which lets the thrust take you flying through the air. When you’re gliding through the air, you can tilt your spoiler to control your movement in the slightest way. Other than those two things, it plays similar to a lot of other arcade games that put you behind the wheel and it is easy to control with the keyboard or a 360 controller. You have buttons for forward, reverse, thrust and air brake. When I say air brake I mean the sides of your stunt car go out and you can slow yourself down in the air. Its an interesting mechanic and it does work well to counteract the thrust. There are optional and brief tutorial courses that get you skilled to the game’s tricks.
The boost feels good to use and it gives your car a sense of speed more than almost any other game with nitrous. Maybe you need that speed to lift off into the air. You can also adjust the options to turn off the sense of speed. Even on the ground it feels much faster. Well I say on the ground, even though everything is in the air.
There are three modes and the main mode is platforming. You have ten tries to make it through each course and there are five difficulties each with five courses. These courses are open circuits, so anything can happen from course to course. One course can be like an upward hill that’s floating thousands of meters off the ground. Another course can have you going in a loop, then jump down through rings. Having the courses suspended in mid air does open up a lot of opportunity for imaginative, creative courses. It also allows for a budget, minimal design of colored blocks rather than trees.
Your objective is to make it to the gate at the end. Even if there’s a minuet amount of space after the goal, you can still plow through and drive off and its still a victory. If you fall into the abyss below or slam into something at top speed, you will respawn at the last checkpoint. You only get a checkpoint if you drive through its triangular gate, so if you fly over it, then you missed your opportunity. Crossing through a checkpoint refills your boost completely.
You need to time your boosts and spare your thrust for later sections. Even if you recharge your boost at checkpoints, you can still run out and be forced to respawn at the cost of time. This makes some courses feel like trial and error that you need to get accustom to before you make it through. Other times, there are blind jumps guided by an arrow block that keeps you from over jumping, because you’re aiming for rings that you’ll never see until you jump. The earlier courses show you the rings before you jump, but its the later courses you need to be wary of.
Time Trial mode lets you race the same courses, but more like a closed circuit where you do laps. So imagine the same tough course that you have to do five times. It does get easier as you do it more often. At the end of each lap, there’s a fog bank that puts you back at the start so seamless that you maintain your speed. Its a nice touch. Time Trial more for endurance and it gets dull. A challenge is one thing, racing a ghost or yourself is another.
There are optional ghosts in the game and I enjoy them being here, because it makes the game feel more alive. Otherwise it feels vacant. I realize that its just white tiles that I’m driving on and without competition, I feel less motivation to exceed and keep playing. These ghosts make mistakes and I have a feeling they are human recordings for the most part. After each successful drive, you get a gold, silver or bronze medal and you get a rank based on an unseen online leader board. My best runs earned around #500 while my worst runs ranked me at #700 – #1,500. I have a feeling there’s a player drop off as the game gets more difficult.
The final mode is the toughest of them all and that’s the Collector. This mode has you collecting five stars on only eight of the same twenty-five tracks. You need to search high and low for these stars in places that its questionable how you can get to them, but its mostly extreme precision. After trying a few times on the first level, I assume that you need all five stars, before the goal lets you in. I gave up and ran away. It seemed too overwhelming from the start to even get into it, but that’s why this is the third mode rather than the first.
As for unlockables, I never encountered any hint of any other than completing all five courses on one difficulty level unlocks the courses of the next difficulty level. I would like to play as other vehicles to see a difference in their weight and how they perform, but with this being a challenge and precision based game, that may throw things off.
In terms of sound and music, its minimal. There is no music during the game itself, just air and light engine sounds. I suppose music would get in the way of anything that takes focus to accomplish. The menus are where the music is and its nothing special.
I’m on the fence about this game really. I had fun for a brief while. The challenges are engaging before they get too difficult for me. The clean look certainly helps it stand out from other games and a lot of times a game boils down to its graphics to sell you. I want to like it and maybe I do, its just tough to recommend to others. It was more challenging and a bit tedious than it was fun. It feels one dimensional, even if it makes good use of that one dimension across twenty-five courses. It should add or have more facets to keep it interesting and engaging. Even having more to unlock would have kept me interested longer.
As always, the choice is yours, but I feel like even the price is a bit too high, but well there are always sales.
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