If you had asked me a few weeks ago to make a list of mobile games I’d like to see on console…well, I’m not sure what would be at the top but Jet Car Stunts 2 would definitely be on there. It already has everything you need to make it successful in the console world: sharp visuals, fun physics and most of all, tons of modes and crazy-elaborate tracks. Well, Jet Car Stunts is on console and it has the core of the previously mentioned features along with some new glitches, but not much else.
Jet Car Stunts was first released in 2009 for virtually every phone and tablet in existence (and will be referred to as JCS1 for the remainder of the review to avoid confusion). It saw a sequel cleverly titled Jet Car Stunts 2 in 2013.Now it’s on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC but this new numberless title is not a port of the more recent JCS2. It is a remake of the original. Jet Car Stunts boasts new visuals, cars, modes and an asynchronous multiplayer mode.
At its most reductive, JCS is a racing platformer. You drive a Formula 1-esque car with a jet turbine strapped to it. With that jet engine you traverse the game’s three different modes and various tracks. The aim of the game is simple; you drive fast, make huge jumps and reach the end in the allotted time or retries.
The meat of the game exists in the Platforming races. In these races you attempt huge jumps, fly through rings and drive around loops and spirals to reach the end within 10 retries. The second race type, Time Trials, is pretty straight forward and tasks you with completing five laps around the track within the time limit. The final, smallest, weirdest and only new race type is Collector. In Collector you drive around handpicked tracks from the other two modes and try to grab five stars that are strewn throughout. Each race has its own leaderboard except the Collector races.
The core gameplay (i.e. the physics, handling and sense of speed) in JCS1 was solid but not remarkable. In JCS2, that core was iterated upon, smoothed out and made great. Unfortunately JCS on the console is back to being solidly unremarkable. Despite the increased accuracy of an analog stick over tilt-controls, everything feels too slippery for you to ever feel like you’re in control. Not to mention the game’s blur effect to denote speed. It looks kind of like someone smeared Vaseline on the screen.
In addition to the slightly off-feeling controls and the odd visual effects, there are a few other issues I draw with JCS. The biggest is the camera. The camera places you far too close to the jet car and it is common to miss landings or crash into obstacles because you can’t see them until it’s too late. Another issue is not knowing where you stand in the rankings. Time trials do a great job by indicating which medal you’re on track for but Platforming gives you no feedback whatsoever. In fact, the game never tells you what it takes to get a gold medal vs a silver or a bronze. Nor does it tell you that it’s the number of retries, not your overall time that determines which medal you get in Platforming.
One of the saddest and most common issues with remakes is the addition of glitches that never existed in the original. I encountered a few such glitches in my time with JCS. Neither of them are true game breakers but both are incredibly annoying. The first issue is the easier of the two and occurs when the game stops registering that I’m pressing the accelerator. The solution is simple enough: just let go and depress the button again. The second and more frustrating of the two is when the game doesn’t stop registering me holding down the afterburner. One of the keys to finishing races is managing jet fuel and when the game won’t let you stop rocketing forward, it can make some races impossible. Sometimes the issue would stop after respawning at a checkpoint but, more often than not, I had to quit the current race if not restart the game to resolve it.
Jet Car Stunts is not a bad game. The visuals, while a little sparse and bland on a big screen, are still crisp and vibrant. The gameplay, while loose, can be very enjoyable. The biggest problem (glitches and camera problems notwithstanding) is that it seems like the wrong game was remade. JCS would be a fine game if a far superior version hadn’t already existed since 2013. It’s a shame that JCS2 wasn’t remade or its improvements and expansions somehow included in the remake. As it stands, Jet Car Stunts is a slightly glitchy port of a mediocre game.
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.