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GDC: JetPac Refuelled

Rare's classic shooter is reborn

There couldn't be a more suitable candidate for Rare's first Xbox Live Arcade title than the classic Spectrum shooter JetPac, and thanks to the GDC reveal we've had our hands all over it.

The game, in case you didn't know, was Rare's (or Ultimate Play The Game as they were known back then) very first release, coded by founders Chris and Tim Stamper themselves. It has you flying a spaceman around the screen collecting parts of your crashed spaceship and then jetting off into space to crash into another rock. This is certainly the sort of Spaceman Esure wouldn't consider.

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But it's not as easy as that of course. You're under relentless assault from a variety of wacky aliens that you have to blast to smithereens with a laser gun. And because this is the 21st century the screen gradually fills up with tons and tons of these critters leading to a far, far more intense and furious shooty experience than the original game provided

JetPac Refuelled features the untouched '83 version for all to play, but the main attraction is the HD remake which it goes without saying looks significantly prettier than the old bedroom favourite. Colourful aliens, battered moons and twinkling stars all look typically Rare, and splashes of the technical wizardry we've come to expect from the company, like sparks and flames from the spaceman's jetpack, are scattered liberally throughout.

Gameplay is pretty much untouched from the original, only the enemy count has been bumped up a few notches thanks to the slight power-increase between the ZX Spectrum and Xbox 360, and there are well over 100 levels to unlock. Basically it's as simple as it ever was; you use the Right trigger to hover and the A button to fire, and there's also various other collectibles falling from the sky for you to play with.

One of the more interesting consequences of JetPac's increased critter count is how the camera zooms out when you reach the edge of the screen - panning out further the higher you climb up the level chain. As of level 20 the camera is already reducing our spaceman to a minuscule dot on screen, with almost a hundred tentacled beasties zipping from side to side. We can only begin to imagine the epic madness of level 150 and above.

We've had a brief stab at JetPac Refuelled's multiplayer too, which supports two to four players in build-and-refuel-space ship showdowns. The fast and furious action from single-player remains and it all takes place on one screen - each player has to collect their own ship pieces, fight over fuel and laser-blast the swarm of enemies flying around the screen.

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No prizes for guessing that the first player to build and refuel their spaceship and blast off from the planet surface wins. Anyone who has played JetPac before will remember that to refuel a ship you have to pick up fuel and then fly over the ship to drop the fuel in it. This opens up the opportunity for cheeky space-stealthers to jetpack in, nick the fuel dropped by other players and then plonk it into their own ship.

JetPac, which is included with Refuelled, was a real fun little shoot-'em-up. JetPac Refuelled is no different. Roll on Lunar Jetman. And Sabre Wulf. And Atic Atac. And...

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