Jet Lancer (PC) Preview (Preview Build)
16-bit retro graphics
Poorly animated cut scenes
In 1903 the first powered, sustained and controlled airplane flight happened. Just a short twelve years later we added a machine gun and shielding to the propeller, and the first fighter plane was born. War is eternal, and piracy has made use of our war surplus since it began. So why are sky pirates only in fiction? The short answer is because it’s extremely costly to fly. Thankfully Jet Lancer is more fiction than fact. So grab your scarf and goggles as we are going to blow these bastards out of the sky.
Jet Lancer is a retro style side-scroller with a clever twist. Players take control of a futuristic jet and must shoot down enemies within a set area. Missions are accessed from a world map and are found by traveling to various points in an aircraft carrier. These levels are graded and thankfully can be re-attempted multiple times. Controller support is highly recommended by the developers, and the game plays as if designed for one. While the camera perspective is a side view, combat is omnidirectional and forward movement manual. These factors allow for intricate and graceful dog-fighting that create a sense of urgency and tension. Besides this, the other features are pretty standard. You are limited to two weapons at a time; a limited use heavy gun, such as missiles, and a weaker but infinite use minigun. There is a speed boost function, which can overheat if used too much and a roll-dodge function that boosts your miniguns damage if used successfully. An issue that appears is that combat is a little overwhelming, even with the addition of being able to switch to a more modern shooter style movement, it was very difficult to become comfortable with the controls. Also, the interactive world map felt unnecessary and often served as a barrier. Various menus are only accessible from the world map, including the exit function.
Graphics mimic a 16-bit style that manages to still look fresh and enticing. Design choices invoke early 90’s sci-fi anime and cartoons. With azure blue skies being the primary background color and your jet a vivid red, the game’s palette gives s feeling of upbeat liveliness. Music continues this upbeat retro theme using a synthpop or chiptune style to help maintain the pace of missions. The downside of this is that it becomes repetitive very quickly, especially when you are redoing missions when trying to earn a better rating. Also, the cut-scenes and character animations look a bit cheap. While 16-bit animation works well on a smaller scale, when used for the larger cutscenes and character faces, it feels outdated and dull. It feels like a missed opportunity to add more traditional art-styles, though this is more a personal preference than an actual fault.
With its lively tone and challenging gameplay, Jet Lancer is an entertaining experience. While there are faults, they are minor at best and do not hinder content. This can easily become a fan favorite and definitely should be added to your library when given the opportunity.
This game isn’t official out yet but if we had to score it right now, we would list it as an 8.5.