Game Review: Jet Pac (ZX Spectrum, Ricochet)

Jet Pac, ZX Spectrum, Ricochet - RS009
  • 8/10
    Score - 8/10


The first game I played by Ultimate, Jet Pac hasn’t lost its charm and appeal over 40 years after its release. It may just be a simple arcade shooter at its heart, but the random nature of the attack waves and drops guarantees that it’s a game of skill rather than memory giving it plenty of longevity. One of the Spectrum’s true classics.

User Review
8.5/10 (1 vote)

Unlike many I didn’t start with consoles or computers – instead it was one of the old Pong clones in the 70s. Moving on from there I went on to table top and hand held LED/LCD games, then my first computer, the Vic 20 followed by other Commodore systems. I didn’t get my first Spectrum for decades later. But I do remember spending time at a friends house using his Spectrum and playing a lot of games from Ultimate, and being impressed with Jet Pac…

Jet Pac – First Impressions

The game certainly left an impression on me. As soon as I discovered that it had been converted to the Vic 20 I was there pestering my parents to get it for me and I lost count of the amount of time I spent playing it. Apart from the classics from Llamasoft and Mastertronic, it quickly became my favourite on the Vic. But I’m not here to rave about a Commodore game…


When I got my first Spectrum (the +2), coming back to Jet Pac after so long seemed like the obvious first thing to do. Given the choice of a one or two player game from the start, or keyboard or joystick (always a strange choice for me as I’d always been used to joystick controls as standard) I opted for joystick to start off, although I ended up using keyboard after a while for that authentic Speccy gameplay.

The game itself is pretty simple. It starts off with your astronaut on screen with several platforms and your ship in pieces. Fly up using your jetpack, collect the pieces and drop them onto the bottom part in order, then collect fuel as it drops to refuel the ship. Once it’s full, head to the ship and it flies off to the next destination.

That would all sound simple enough if it wasn’t for the plethora of creatures out to get in your way. While nothing directly attacks you, there are enough of them to hinder your progress, especially as contact means instant death stripping you on one of your precious lives. You are armed with a laser that can help protect you but you need fast reflexes still as things can get pretty hectic around you.

Level Progression

Once you’ve completed a stage, it’s more of the same for the next few stages. First, the ship lands and the platforms are set out the same and your ship – fully assembled – is where it parked. You’re back to collecting fuel once more, but this time the creatures have changed, as have their movement patterns. So once again, its a case of collect, drop, refuel and escape.

After every few stages, you’ll be taken to a brand new area. This time you’ll be given a new ship to assemble from scratch. Once you’ve done this, it’s back to the same collect/refuel routine as before for the next few stages and so on.

Repetitive Gameplay?

The gameplay is essentially the same from one stage to the next, with just the platform layout changing every few stages. So with that being the case you’d expect Jet Pac to become repetetive and somewhat tedious quite quickly. But nothing could be further from the truth. Just like all the best arcade shooters, it gives you a real adrenaline rush playing it and apart from the cut-scenes of the ship taking off and landing it doesn’t slow down for a second.

Addictive? Absolutely. As I said at the beginning, I first played Jet Pac over 40 years ago, and it’s still as compelling today as it was back then no matter what platform I’ve played it on.

Looking Good

Jet Pac has all the trademark visuals you’d expect from an early game from Ultimate. To get the best performance out of their games and to keep the visuals as crisp as possible on screen, they usually opted to go for single colour characters, sprites and backgrounds. While this minimalistic approach game their games a more basic look compared to other games on the Spectrum it also gave them a distinctive look all of their own as well.

While there’s no animation on any of the creatures on screen, the astronaut is well animated, and everything moves around the screen at an impressive pace, especially considering how much is on screen at once. The only disappointment is the sound which is limited to bleeps but being a 1983 title this is understandable (and to be honest it’s preferable to the grating sound effects on the BBC version).


Jet Pac was a strange choice for Mastertronic to add to their Ricochet range. With the game already being four years old by the time it hit the budget label most people would have already bought it. And with it’s original RRP being a pocket friendly £5.50, it wasn’t a huge saving coming out on the £1.99 range.

However, just looking at this as a game on its own merits, this really is a timeless classic and is even more impressive when you realise that it was developed to run on the 16k Spectrum as standard. Easily one of my all time favourite Spectrum games and definitely one of the best released for the system from Mastertronic.

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You know what we think but why not share your thoughts on this game! Let us know what you think of it in the comments below, or add your own score using the slider in the summary box at the top of the review!

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