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JAM: Jets Aliens Missiles

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Jets. Aliens. Monotony.

Product: JAM: Jets Aliens Missiles | Developer: Neptune Interactive | Publisher: Forest Moon Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Arcade, Shooter | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.1
JAM: Jets Aliens Missiles iPhone, thumbnail 1
You certainly can't argue with that title. JAM: Jets Aliens Missiles does exactly what it says on the tin. It's a side-scrolling shoot-'em-up with all the Js, As, and Ms you could possibly ever ask for.

Playing couldn't be easier either: your ship is tethered to the left of the screen, and a simple swipe of the finger is all it takes to adjust your vertical position. Meanwhile, your right finger is charged with pulverising those marauding aliens, poking to plant a target for your missiles.

There's the semblance of a neat idea here, with a drag mechanic that lets you trace a path over the incoming waves before letting go to release to unleash a torrent of - initially - four missiles simultaneously.

Set missiles to 'Stab'

It's reminiscent of classic shooter Rez, but the idea is somewhat sabotaged by the fact that there's no delay on recharging your missile load, meaning it's much more effective to simply prod the screen repeatedly in frenzied fashion to undo your opponents.

Unfortunately, the otherwise intriguing touch setup has another rather major flaw - your view of oncoming assailants is obscured by your hand.

Those are just two of a handful of shortsighted design decisions that serve to undermine the package as a whole.

Then there's the currency system, which enables you to trade collected orbs for new ship weapons, modules, and upgrades.

It's a sound idea in principle, but - aside from a handy Energy Shield that effectively adds an extra life to the frustratingly brutal one-hit-kill setup - the power-ups don't give you a compelling reason to endure the grind needed to collect 'em all.

Dumb gunnings

JAM's oddly slow-paced, repetitive tap-tap combat is simply too flimsy to deliver truly engaging action. It's an issue that could have been mitigated by clever enemy design. Instead, the limited variety of opponents simply careen into the screen, shoot a bit, then fly off again - there's little satisfaction to be gained in killing them.

Bosses are better, with more interesting attack patterns, but only a handful appear across the game's paltry five stages.

There are certainly things to celebrate in JAM - it's well presented, with a lovely hand-drawn art-style, an energetic score, and a well-animated mix of sprites and polygon characters. And the rather monotonous action picks up significantly once you've unlocked later difficulty settings.

But the simple fact is that JAM's core mechanics are flawed, delivering a largely thrill-free experience that struggles to engage. JAM: Judged And Mediocre.

JAM: Jets Aliens Missiles
Reviewer photo
Matt Wales | 24 September 2012
A nicely presented side-scrolling shooter that's undermined by flawed core mechanics and slow-paced, excitement-free action
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