Aug 11 2009


zorro @ 11:02 pm
Jetpac - Spectrum Cover

Jetpac - Loading Screen

This is probably the first commercial game I really played at home.  The Spectrum was my first PC and initially I just played games I could type from magazines, learning a lot about BASIC in the meantime.The Spectrum cost 100 pounds, which was a lot of money to a 13 year old like me. I went halves with my parents, but it still meant that I had to save for months.  I didn’t have a lot of money in those days but eventually my savings recovered and down to the local games shop I went.  I still don’t know what caught my eye – the packaging, the title or maybe the salesman recommended it, what I do know is that I didn’t come out of my bedroom that weekend :)

Jetpac was the Stamper Brothers’ first game and based on its success their company, Ultimate Play The Game would go on to enjoy huge commercial and critical success for a whole slew of games from Atic Atac to Knight Lore until eventually they became Rare.

Jetpac - In Game Screenshot

Jetpac is a pretty simple affair, after all it had to fit into 16k. You are stranded on a planet and must reassemble and then refuel your ship and take off and do it again.  Unsurprisingly, waves and waves of alien critters were out to stop you but armed with your jetpack and laser you can take them all on.

In terms of game-design, Jetpac would be a single-screen Defender but the effects of gravity on your Jetman reminds me of Joust. You had to keep boosting to keep yourself up and it was this inertia which made the firing and boosting combination so interesting.

The laser was immensely satisfying and would lay waste to anything in its path.  Indeed the sound effect was quite distinctive and really pushed the Spectrum’s tone speaker to its limits.

Lunar Jetman - Loading ScreenJetpac was followed by a 48k sequel called Lunar Jetman, which I used to play at a friend’s house and although it scrolled and you could drive your buggy, it lacked the addictive charm of its prequel.

Jetpac is probably only equalled as a Spectrum landmark by Jet Set Willy and possibly Manic Miner.

Finally, there are plenty of web emulators around the net, just Google “Jetpac Spectrum” and have a play.

Lunar Jetman - Spectrum Cover

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