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Video Game / Solar Jetman

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You are a member of the Federation of Space Loonies. Your task is to find the pieces of the fabled Golden Warpship that have been hidden across four solar systems by space pirates... or something.

Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship was made by Rare in 1990. Despite having a major article in Nintendo Power volume 18 (and a Howard and Nester comic about it a couple issues later), the game did not get much praise. Or much attention at all for that matter. In fact, Rare had plans on porting the game to other systems, but the idea got scrapped late in the process due to low sales.

The game itself is very well made, considering the technology of the day. The graphics are clear, the physics are quite accurate, and each planet is unique enough to keep the player from getting complacent.

In essence, each planet is a small Wide-Open Sandbox, as you can go anywhere and do anything you wish, though the primary goal is the same: refuel your mothership, find the wormhole and retrieve a piece of the Golden Warpship. Anything else you do to gain an extra credit or two is completely optional, though that can be part of the fun sometimes (especially finding out what's inside that treasure chest you found).

The list of planets and their given statistics are as follows:

  1. Preludon: Gravity 8, Diameter 7
  2. Mexomorf: Gravity 24, Diameter 31
  3. Omebru: Gravity 16, Diameter 23
  4. Corso Qwero: Gravity 8, Diameter 39
  5. Bokky: Gravity 32, Diameter 29
  6. Lemonte: Gravity 40, Diameter 47
  7. Chorlton: Gravity 32, Diameter 35
  8. Shishkebab: Gravity -24, Diameter 29
  9. Zlaz Tordus: Gravity 24, Diameter 37
  10. Shammy Gen: Gravity 24, Diameter 33
  11. Shankoo: Gravity 56, Diameter 39
  12. Miplezur: Gravity 72, Diameter 45
  13. Urownd: Gravity 32, Diameter 31note 

This game provides examples of:

  • 1-Up: Get 7 crystals in one sitting, and you get an extra life and 2000 extra credits.
  • Attack Drone: Since you never actually see any enemies outside of their ships (except for the final boss, if you count that), they may be this.
  • Bonus Stage: You enter one called the Cyberzone after you find a ship part, and a couple more in Preludon and Zlaz Tordus. In each, you could earn up to 2000 credits.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Titanium Bullet pack. It seems rather middling compared to other weapons. However, because it's a bullet upgrade, it doesn't take up any energy to fire. It substantially increases the damage of your primary weapon. Later pod upgrades increase your rate of fire, making a string of Titanium bullets more likely to hit the same enemy. And, unlike other upgrades, it is not lost when you lose your ship; you get to keep it when you're flying around in your jetpack. If you can survive to return to your base, it returns to your inventory as normal.
  • Collision Damage: Whenever you hit a wall/most enemies. The faster you/they go, the more fuel you lose.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: Averted, since most of the time, the mothership is out of fuel when you reach the planet and you travel through wormholes to get there.
  • Critical Existence Failure: When you run out of fuel, your ship explodes. If you get shot while outside of your ship, you explode.
  • Deflector Shields: A ship upgrade that's found on the first planet. Activating it makes you burn fuel faster, but it protects you from enemy bullets and Collision Damage from the walls and ceilings of the planets.
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: Averted. In fact, you can move and fire in any direction. Partially played straight after your pod blows up, as you can only fire left or right, but with no loss in mobility. All in all, this can be a welcome change of pace if you're used to playing other games from the time period.
  • Destructible Projectiles: Homing missiles.
  • Disk One Nuke: The Italian Racing Jetpod. It has the ability to teleport between portals, making exploration much easier. And it fires a fast, tight stream of bullets. However, while the first opportunity to buy one appears en-route to Corso Qwero, there is little chance you can buy it then. And you won't see it again for 4 more levels. Unless... you know it's coming, forgo buying pretty much anything else, and can find all of the loot on the first 3 levels. Or do lots of grinding.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The final boss may qualify as one.
  • Emergency Energy Tank: There's usually a couple of these (not to mention emergency ships) on each planet. They cannot be picked up and used at any time, but are stationary instead.
  • Every Bullet is a Tracer: Every shot from your gun or your ship's guns is visible, and if you use one of the temporary power-ups, those bullets will grow.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: If it moves, shoot it.
  • Flash of Pain: Only when your shields are down.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The final boss that appears after you assemble the Golden Warpship and attempt to escape the last planet. This is especially notable since it's the only boss in the game.
  • Go for the Eye: The final boss has five of them. You must destroy them all.
  • Gravity Screw: The strength of gravity changes from planet to planet, which may take some getting used to. Also, Corso Qwero, Chorlton and Miplezur have areas of "water" where gravity is either negated or reversed. Not to mention Shishkebab, which has negative gravity throughout.
  • Gravity Sucks: Played straight and inverted with the super-gravity and anti-gravity mini-planets respectively.
  • Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress: With the Italian Racing Jetpod, you can travel through warp zones. You maintain your speed throughout and most warp zones are next to walls.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: In addition to seemingly random items (radioactives, Fancy Alien Items), there are actual treasure chests with seemingly random items inside including Easter Island heads, bananas, tennis balls, an "english phone box", tribbles, and absolutely nothing.
  • Jet Pack: After your pod explodes, you use one to get around.
  • Life Meter: The fuel gauge.
  • Made of Explodium: Everything that can't be towed can and often will explode.
  • Mana Meter: The meter below the fuel gauge shows how much energy you have left for your special weapons.
  • Money for Nothing: This is definitely the case on Miplezur, since there are no more shops after that, but some may feel that way after getting the Italian Racing Jetpod en route to Shishkebab.
  • More Dakka: Let's see, you have homing missiles (with optional extra warheads), time bombs, star bullets, smart bombs...
  • Nintendo Hard: The final level definitely qualifies.
  • Nitro Boost: The boosters can give you an extra burst of acceleration/lifting strength, but it uses up fuel faster.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: There's only one Golden Warpship, and if it crashes, your game is over.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: Without checking out various online sources, you won't know exactly why you're collecting ship parts.
  • Noob Cave: Planet Preludon, the first stage. It has a few upgrades you'll need for later levels (the shields and Tractor Beam), almost nothing but Weak Turret Gun enemies, and you only need to collect one fuel part to open the gate.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The Golden Warpship might as well be one.
  • Palette Swap: Enemies and most items change palettes with each planet, mostly so they don't blend in with the background.
  • Password Save: There's even a password generator for Jetman on the go.
  • Permanently Missable Content: The shields on Preludon and the boosters on Mexomorf. Granted you can buy super shields and double strength thrusters later, but these are only temporary.
  • Pinball Scoring: Mostly averted, though the gravity is displayed in multiples of 8.
  • Point of No Return/Continues: After you assemble the Golden Warpship, you are subject to a Gradius-style side-scrolling level. You have one shot at it. If you lose, you get the password for Miplezur. The fact that the final level is Nintendo Hard doesn't help. Possibly justified in that there is only one Golden Warpship.
  • Power-Up: Shields, boosters and navigators on planet surfaces, and a lot more at the Interstellar Marketing Co.
  • Punny Name: Preludon, among most other planet names.
  • Recursive Ammo: Star bullets.
  • Secret Level: Urownd. Notable in that finding this planet allows you to skip Zlaz Tordus, Shammy Gen and Shankoo entirely.
  • Selective Gravity: For some reason, when in just your spacesuit, you are subject to the same force of gravity no matter which planet you're on, even if it has zero or negative gravity.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: There's definitely potential for this. No shields, no boosters, no map, base level pod...
  • Shout-Out: A couple of the items you can find in the treasure chests contain references to other sci-fi series, such as Star Trek, Doctor Who, and, surprisingly, Gradius.
  • Smart Bomb: The most expensive weapon available.
  • Space Is Noisy: Possibly subverted, as you are on the planet's surface, and they may have an atmosphere that is toxic to humans. Or maybe I'm thinking about it too much.
  • This Is the Final Battle: After assembling the Golden Warpship in preparation to get off the last planet, you're greeted with two words: "Destiny Summons".
  • Tractor Beam: One of the first upgrades for your ship, and a requirement to collect almost anything, including the mission-critical fuel canisters.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change/Shmup Level: The final level.
  • Video-Game Lives: Four of them to start with, though you only lose them if you die in spaceman form. If you get to a spare jetpod laying about, to a wormhole back to the mothership, or back to the mothership itself, you're spared.
  • Warp Zone: There are three of them, but unless you're on a self-imposed challenge or something, only one is worth going after.
  • A Winner Is You: It does have a funny part at the end, though.