Every so often, you come across a game that, while not technically fantastic or objectively outstanding, turns into one of those games that, for whatever reason, you end up falling in love with. Ghost Time Games’, Jettomero: Hero of the Universe is one of those games.
It might be a tad repetitive, and in many respects, rather simplistic, but as a combination of premise, tone, art-style and execution, Jettomero is a video game that gels together spectacularly to create an experience that is ultimately more than the sum of its individual parts.
This brief but utterly charming adventure sees you take on the role of the giant robot, Jettomero, a clumsy, but good intentioned robot much in the same vein as the 50s sci-fi inspired, Iron Giant. The controls are simple enough in so much that you walk around and occasionally stamp on the floor. The real draw (beyond the captivatingly awkward control scheme) being that the universe you inhabit is a No Man’s Sky-esque procedurally generated collection of planets that could essentially see you travelling the cosmos for as long as you see fit.
That all sounds very grand, but in practice, it makes for a collection of visually spectacular stars surrounded by a collection of smaller planets that you traverse ala-Mario Galaxy. Each solar system is connected by a wormhole, and while most are very similar beyond a few different colour schemes, it does provide the game with a solid sense of progression. This is also helped by your ability to manually fly between worlds in yet another simplistic but well-implemented addition to gameplay.
Some will find the mechanics and gameplay loop far too basic, but I found it an oddly cathartic experience. Nothing really changes as you progress from one planet to the next as you search for a meaning to your existence, but the small collection of what are essentially mini-games combine to create an oddly compelling experience. You can play the game for as long as you want (indefinitely if you fancy it), but in terms of worthwhile challenge and progression, Jettomero is actually a very short game and in no way outstays its welcome.
Going from planet to planet, you can collect a whacky selection of items with which to customise your giant robot, you can put out the occasional fire and collect the energy required to leave a planet’s orbit. It’s all very simplistic, but made all the more enjoyable by Jettomero’s clumsy control scheme and accidental destruction of the humans that he is otherwise so eager to protect. This dichotomy works largely due to the charisma of the games’ eponymous lead and actually fits in well with the limited, often silly, but strangely touching narrative as Jettomero fights valiantly against his cumbersome and often downright dangerous design.
Beyond the basic collection missions, the real drive is to defeat the giant monsters that inhabit one of the planets in each solar system. This is done by yet another simplistic mini-game, but like much of the experience, these encounters are largely successful due to the quirky narrative and brilliant art design. Yes, like everything else in this game, these encounters never really change and invariably become somewhat repetitive, but thanks to that limited run-time and solid sense of progression, never get to the point of becoming annoying or overtly tedious.
Each victory against one of the universes giant monsters unlocks yet another simple mini game linked to Jettomero’s memories; this is where the game, while retaining its goofy charm, begins to take on a more thoughtful tone as Jettomero struggles with his own identity, creation and ultimate mission in life. It’s unlikely to have you reaching for the tissues, but despite its somewhat absurdist structure, does leave an oddly lasting impression.
Beyond the often beautiful art design, no one aspect of Ghost Time Games’ idiosyncratic adventure stands out as being particularly special or inventive, but as a whole, Jettomero: Hero of the Universe overcomes its repetitive nature thanks to its oddly compelling narrative and infinitely charming lead. Some will be more forgiving of its relatively simplistic gameplay than others, but whatever your opinion on the structure of the experience, Jettomero proves a flawed but well intentioned character that is all but impossible to dislike.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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