6 million people paid just over a dollar for the sublime Fruit Ninja, the kind of success you can't necessarily predict. Unless you're Phil Larsen, Marketing Director at Halfbrick. According to him, he knew the second he played, that Fruit Ninja would be one of the defining games on mobile platforms. Apparently he has the precise same feeling about Halfbrick's latest game, Machinegun Jetpack.
Of course he would say that, we thought, cynically, as he passed across his iPod touch. Ten minutes later our interview had stopped dead.
Because I was too busy playing Machinegun Jetpack.
Like all the best mobile games, Machinegun Jetpack is criminally simple. It's a one-button game so accessible that no tutorial or instructions are necessary. As the name suggests you are carrying a machine gun that doubles as a jetpack, and you're lifted by the sheer force of bullet power. Careening across the map at high speeds you must dodge enemies by flying and shooting simulataneously, killing and evading at the exact same time.
It's furiously tactile, but switches things up by adding powerups - some of which are completely and utterly inspired. One throws you into what can only be described as an ED-209 mega suit of armour, but our favourite is the 'Crazy Freaking Teleporter' (yes that's what it's called). Said teleporter constantly darts around the screen and by pushing the button you directly transport to where it flashed up last. Sounds simple, but in practice it's absolutely captivating, to the extent that you're constantly on your toes, always attempting to hit the perfect timing.
It's difficult to explain the appeal in words. Machinegun Jetpack has all the ingredients for your typical viral iPhone game. It simply feels good. It has that 'one-more-go' vibe - it compels you to continue playing. But what impresses us most with the game is its capacity to surprise. Power ups like the ED-209 suit, and the Crazy Freaking Teleporter' completely flip the game on its head and work less like a gimmick and more like a genuinely transformative leap. It just elevates the game above and beyond your Canabalts and yes... even above my current favourite Tiny Wings.
High praise indeed.