It seems like a lot of indie developers who had successful games on mobile platforms, are slowly porting their games over the consoles as part of their indie gaming lineup. Over the past couple of years, we’ve actually seen a lot of indie ports come out on PlayStation and Xbox. The good thing about these are that they usually aren’t just a straight up port. They usually include graphic overhauls, better control schemes thanks to use of physical controllers, and inclusion of much more levels, modes, and extras. That means that when popular mobile games hit consoles, they are usually much better. Take for instance Jet Car Stunts by Grip Games.
Jet Car Stunts was a popular mobile game that had you driving around in a highly modified stunt vehicle through crazy race tracks that seemed to defy physics. Filled with twists, turns, ramps, and hoops, you must make it from point A to point B as quickly as possible without wrecking yourself. That’s easier said than done as in this game, you’ll be wrecking a lot. There is a learning curve involved, but it’s a shallow curve. Many of the controls are easy to learn, thanks to the use of a physical controller. I’ve played this before on a smartphone and it wasn’t as pleasant an experience as it is with a controller. In fact, the controller makes it many times better in my opinion over the mobile version of the same game.
The control scheme is very simple. The left thumbstick controls the direction you want to turn while the X button controls acceleration. The top right bumper activates the jet boosters while the top left bumper activates the air brakes. This makes it much more enjoyable when you’re able to leave all your fingers and thumbs on all the controls, unlike on the mobile game. As simple as the game’s controls are though, that doesn’t mean the game is a breeze to play.
Jet Car Stunts is actually quite challenging. It might seem like a straight up game where you just follow the track to get from point A to point B, but it’s not. The challenge comes from trying to orient yourself on the crazy tracks and crazy they are. We are talking about tracks that make use of all available 3D space. There’s lots of vertical elements involved in which you’re not just racing on a single plane. There’s ramps, corkscrews, sharp 90-degree turns, and even drops. You’ll be jumping your car to different platforms while using your jet boost to control distance and height. It’s a lot you have to think about while driving and that’s what makes the game so challenging and fun. There is a lot to it and it isn’t just a boring, straight racing game.
There are also other elements that come into play. For instance, the amount of jet boost you have is limited and must be used sparingly, at least until you hit a checkpoint. That means you should just hold down the boost button indefinitely just to gain better times. You use them instead for long jumps where you have to reach far away platforms. Speaking of times, you will be racing against the clock which will dictate what medal you finish the level with, either gold, silver, or bronze. There’s also a “ghost” you race against which usually belongs to some random player. I’m assuming this ghost is a gold level run but if you’re just starting out, don’t worry about it and just have fun.
Jet Car Stunts has an interesting graphic style to it. It’s very geometric with lots of solid, bright colors. It’s not entirely flat looking though because there is a lighting system in place that adds depth and shadows to each level. Each level seems to take place high up in the clouds as you can see from the screenshots so the background consists of cloudy blue skies and a bright sun in the distance. That means that the variety in each level mainly comes from the track design and not really from environmental differences.
That’s not entirely a bad thing though as it means you can focus more on the actual level and gameplay and less on how pretty the environment might be. Less here means less distractions. Despite this, the overall look of the game is quite nice. I honestly love the graphic style and it’s one of the things that initially drew me to the game. The graphics are clean, the level designs are well thought out and challenging, and I just love how bright everything is.
For a game that started out as a mobile game on smartphones and tablets, the transition to console is a welcome change for the Jet Car Stunts franchise. In fact, I would say that it’s a much more perfect fit on console. I can say from past experience that the game was a bit more difficult to play using a touchscreen than it really needed it to be and the addition of a physical controller really brings out the fun in the game. In fact, I’d say that by bringing it to console, it has completely turned around my opinions on the franchise. I didn’t really enjoy it much on my smartphone as it was just way too difficult to control. The use of a physically controller completely changed all that. It makes the game itself a lot less frustrating and though you do still crash and fail a lot, it’s because of a mistake you made and not because you are fighting the controls.
Jet Car Stunts on the PS3 is a prime example of how some of these indie games get better by moving to console. They are no longer restricted by the obvious short comings of touch based controls and become much better games once a physical controller is introduced. This is also probably why the PS Vita version of the game will also be great for those who want to take Jet Car Stunts with them on the go. Speaking of which, Jet Car Stunts is a Cross-Buy title so if you buy it on the PS3, you’ll get it for free on the PS Vita and vice-versa.