Developed By: Code Wakers
Published By: Armor Games
Category: Shooter, Action, Arcade
Release Date: 12.05.2020
Jet Lancer demonstrates from its opening moments that humans were always meant to fly. With a flashy presentation of stylish visuals and a catchy, energetic soundtrack this arcade combat-shooter is a complete indie gem. Simple, but not shallow, Jet Lancer goes a step further with high-octane acrobatics, tight controls, and challenging but rewarding gameplay. It’s a wonderful tribute to the arcade, using only the best elements of nostalgia to create a fun new experience.
From the menu screen, as clouds race past you, you’re greeted with a scene typical of most stereotypical anime: a full range of bright colors, energy, and hyper score. Following a brief intro to your rogue jet, Lancer, and shoot-from-the-hip pilot, Ash, and you’re ready for take-off. From there it’s your job as a mercenary to take missions as they come, earning money for your ragtag crew of a prudent captain and talking cat. Your job is to help locals who are willing to pay and clear the skies of the pirates that harass them. In so doing, you’ll uncover secrets buried beneath and around the great blue sea.
There’s a nice variety of missions in Jet Lancer. While the idea is to shoot down as many of the enemy ships as fast as possible, each mission frames your task of gunning down enemy fighters around an objective. These include escorts, deactivating enemy radio towers, and challenging boss fights. Jet Lancer keeps things simple. Rarely does a mission take more than a few minutes to complete, but you may need to give it a few tries as I did to complete them.
Mechanics are simple too. Shoot, dodge, and boost. Though simple, however, the execution is not always easy, especially as missions grow more challenging with stronger fighters in greater numbers. Missions with homing rockets appearing out of nowhere or enemy jets ramming into you head-on with perfect accuracy are uncommon, though, and rarely too aggravating as they don’t last long enough for frustration to set in. My experience never felt cheap. I could often see how I died and understand that I wasn’t quick enough to pull off a timely roll.
Each mission has high replayability too. Jet Lancer gives you plenty of options to not only customize your experience by eliminating screen shake or screen flashes, but by also changing your loadout with various weapons and armor upgrades to alter how you play. As you gain new abilities to augment your cooldown rate for a special weapon or turn off homing capabilities for your missiles, you can go back to play older missions and try for a higher score. It’s addicting and perfect for the pick-up-and-play kind of person who wants to go for the high score and see if they can clear an area in record time.
Both the exciting dogfights and moments of downtime are backed by solid music and a slick presentation reminiscent of the classic arcade era. Guitars swell and churn forth during battles, but slow down to something more languid as you ride around on the open sea looking for your next paycheck. The visuals are bright, sharp, and colorful, while the dialogue keeps things light. Aesthetically speaking, Jet Lancer is a balanced, pleasant experience.
A brief but enjoyable ride, Jet Lancer kept things fresh each time I returned. It never outstayed its welcome. With bite-sized missions, precise gameplay mechanics, and stylish presentation it achieves top honors in the arcade sphere for reminding us why we play video games in the first place: to have fun.