ICYMI (or In Case You Missed It, if you’re an old fart like me) is my new video review series looking at games that for whatever reason weren’t fully covered in bigger sites. The video is after the jump, and if you’d prefer a written version you’ll find one there too.
Jet Car Stunts is one of a number of mobile racing games that have made the jump over to consoles in the past couple of years (another being Beach Buggy Racing).
The decision to move from the small screen to the big one is often something of a gamble for developers given that the quick, bitty gameplay you’d expect and hope for in a mobile game often feels shallow on consoles.
I’d love to say Jet Car Stunts is the exception to this rule but that would be like saying David Cameron has never played Mr Driller with a pig’s head: a complete lie.
Instead, it’s a perfect specimen of a mobile game that’s been remade for consoles but can’t shake its shallow roots.
Based on its title you probably don’t need me to tell you this, but Jet Car Stunts puts you in control of a car fitted with a jet and tasks you with completing an array of, yes, stunts.
It does this with three different stage types: platforming, time trial and collection.
The platforming stages are the most stunt-y of the bunch. As you’d expect, the aim is to make your way from one end of a platform-laden track to the other by performing a series of death-defying jumps.
At first you’ll be taking on relatively straightforward levels, most of which can be powered through with very little effort.
By the time you get to the appropriately named Very Hard stages, though, you find yourself dealing with something more like a third-person version of a Trials game, with polygon-perfect accuracy and precise approach angles necessary to clear some jumps.
Needless to say, this soon becomes a bit annoying, especially given the car’s twitchy controls which make lining up perfect jumps more difficult.
It tries to ease the pain by adding checkpoints throughout each track, but you can only respawn ten times before it decides you’ve had enough goes and forces you to start all over again from the beginning.
Time Trials are more straightforward affairs. These are also self-explanatory, giving you a selection of courses and asking you to complete a set number of laps within a certain time limit. You then get a gold, silver or bronze medal depending on how quickly you finished. Simple.
This mode could have become a bit too easy once you got used to the handling, which is why Jet Car Stunts also has an interesting boost system in place.
Your car’s jet gives you a massive speed boost, but it’s strictly limited. The twist is that every time you go through a checkpoint the boost is refilled, meaning each section of your race requires some tactical decision-making as you figure out which are the best times to apply the boost.
I know that really doesn’t sound that exciting but you genuinely get a wee sense of satisfaction when you perfectly time a boost so that it runs out just as you pass a checkpoint to refill it.
These time trial stages are more entertaining than the platforming ones because there’s more room for error. If you race like a bloody demon for, say, five laps you can get away with taking a wee spill in the sixth without completely fucking your chance of a gold medal.
Given that some of the longer time trials can last five or six minutes and the chances of keeping a flawless run going that long with its pishy handling are pretty slim, this is welcome.
Less welcome are the Collection stages, which are just a complete mess. These drop a bunch of collectibles on the track and give you free reign to gather them, adding extra oomph to your jet so you can stay in the air for a longer time.
This could have been exciting but it’s just a shambolic mode, especially considering some of the collectibles are really high up on tiny platforms.
The result is an infuriating trial-and-error process which inevitably ends with you deliberately slamming into the edge of the track and trying to use the ropey collision detection to fling yourself into the air.
Ignore this shitey mode and Jet Car Stunts is generally quite fun, especially when you do some of the bigger jumps in the game.
Essentially, it’s massively broken, but given its over-the-top level design this can actually work in its favour.
You can pull off some ridiculous shortcuts by exploiting its shortfalls, and sometimes when it looks like you’ve messed up a jump the arsed-up physics can turn your crash into a miraculous landing.
Purists will take one look at Jet Car Stunts and see an ugly, no-budget racing game that looks like someone shat a load of building blocks onto Google Maps.
But considering it only costs £3.99 and kept me entertained for a wee while, I really think you should give it a go. It’s shite, but it’s harmless shite.
Jet Car Stunts is available for download on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, Vita and Steam.
Disclaimer: This review was not based on a free promo copy of the game. I bought it myself.