Jetpak Solar Crisis is a homebrew remake of Ultimate Play the Game‘s classic Jet Pac, made by Retrospec and released for free in 2004. While not all Retrospec remakes are good games, this one is actually pretty decent.
The basic gameplay of Solar Crisis is the same as Jet Pac, but the sequence of events, and some small details are different. The first thing that you have to get used to is landing. When you start a new level your spaceship drops down to the ground and you have to apply thrusters to brake before touching down. Otherwise you sustain damage. Sustaining damage is not the end of the world, though, because you can pick up repair kits (circular objects with ‘r’ on them) and drop them onto your ship. The number of repair kits needed depends on the amount of damage done. The blue bar in the top right-hand corner of the screen indicates damage levels and as you drop repair kits onto your primary spaceship this will go down.
The second order of events is to assemble the secondary spaceship on the planet, which means collecting the right parts in the right order and dropping them onto the launch area (indicated by two poles in the ground). Once you’ve done that you then need to fuel the newly-built craft by collecting fuel pods and dropping them onto it. Accidentally shooting a fuel pod will cause it to explode (which didn’t happen in the original Jet Pac), so you have to be careful. Thankfully, fuels pods will keep dropping out of the sky so you can re-try if you blow one up. If a fuel pod explodes close to you it will damage you, though.
When the secondary craft is fully fuelled you’ll then get a message saying that it is ready to go and it will take off automatically. If your primary spaceship is fully repaired you can then take off from the planet surface, complete the level, and move on to the next.
Of course, while you’re doing all of this, you also have to blast the constant stream of enemies that come at you. Unlike the original Jet Pac, in Solar Crisis a collision with an enemy won’t kill you straight away, it’ll just lose you some health (indicated by the red bar in the top left-hand corner of the screen). You only get one life, though, so depleting the red bar will immediately end the game.
In later levels there are larger alien creatures that will slowly follow you and knock whatever you’re carrying out of your hands, and these ‘boss’ aliens also seem to be indestructible. At least I couldn’t figure out how to kill them – there probably is a way, though. The best way of avoiding them is to use the wrap-around screen to confuse their movement.
Jetpak Solar Crisis feels good to play, has excellent graphics and sound, and is relatively easy to get into. It does have a few small issues, like sections of text (that you’re supposed to be able to read) being covered over by information panels during the mid-level cut scenes, a crap game over screen, and lame juvenile humour, but these are relatively minor problems overall. I would definitely recommend this game, which is not something I can say about all Retrospec remakes.