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CREATED JUN.09.2008
UPDATED JUN.12.2008
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TEXT WRITTEN BY
MARTIN NIELSEN
SOLAR JETMAN: HUNT FOT THE GOLDEN WARSHIP
BECOME A JETPACKED SPACE CADET ON YOUR NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
Well Well, here I am again with another game spotlight. Unfortunately it took a little longer to get the second spotlight out there, but hopefully you'll enjoy it and feel free to recommend a game you would like to see exposed on the site.

This time around I've decided to review a game that I often passed on before obviously eventually buying it. By the time I picked up Solar Jetman, NES game prices had dropped quite a bit and I ended up paying 200 DKK which is about 41 USD by the exchange rate of today, however back then it would've been no more than 25 USD.

Anyway I had some money to burn back in 1993 and went to a nearby shop to pick up Journey to Silius if I remember correctly. However it probably had been out of stock or something because I ended up buying Solar Jetman for some forgotten reason and at first I really really hated the game honestly, it truly was one of my least played NES game for a few years (or months?).

But being bored or whatever I one day sat down and decided to give the game a go, and what a blast it was sending the Solar Jetman on a rescue mission to recover a very valuable and powerful warship which have been scattered all over the galaxy, being 12 worlds of gameplay, by space pirates.

Solar Jetman was programmed by Zippo Games' Steve Hughes who also was producer and designer on the project. The graphics were created by Lyndon Brooke and Ste Pickford, one half of the now famous and genious Pickford Brothers. Zippo Games wasn't credited for the game though as it ended up being a subcontracted project from Rareware, as with a lot of Rare's other NES games for that matter. The game was released in the US by Tradewest and sold poorly according to Ste Pickford. Tradewest supposedly had a warehouse full of unsold copies they probably planned to dump next to the Atari ET cartridges in the Arizona desert, he states at the official Pickford Brothers website. The game supposedly did better in Europe where Nintendo handled the publishing of the game.

Some years back I managed to make a small interview with Solar Jetman creator Steve Hughes. Solar Jetman was supposed to be a mix of two other games already available on the market, Oids and Thrust, but still with it's own originality intact. It took a little over a year to create Solar Jetman, which by the way was called "Iota" at the early stages of development. According to Steve testing of the game was very tedious and it actually ended up being shipped with a few bugs such as the ending sequence crashing, a password system allowing illegal passwords to be accepted. Also a funny thing is that at least half of the planet names used were English Pub phrases, hmmm.

One of the most noticeable things about Solar Jetman is the extremely nice graphics used for the landing sequences and launch of the pod. In game the colors are bright and nice, but a bit dull to to be honest. Another thing you'll soon learn about Solar Jetman is that it's too friggin hard to play quite honestly, but it was also one of the things that made me return and play the game a bit more.

The basics of the game is to fly around in a small blue, or later white, space pod collecting fuel as well as a piece of the golden warship to be able to continue to the next planet. It might be a good idea however to explore the worlds a bit more as you'll be able to find several types of equipment and such for your space pod.

Solar Jetman has a gravity engine built-in that makes flying around on the various planets different from each other, making your space pod very hard to control times. Fortunately there's a "full throttle" button hidden in the SELECT button so you can make your space pod accelerate if necesseary, but this featuere also drains the fuel bar in no time, so be careful. During the game the space pod can be upgraded to other models so the gravity isn't nearly as hard to deal with.

An extra engine can be attached as well so gravity won't slam your space pod into the nearest set of rocks, but instead the pod stays in the very spot where you released the thrust button (B). Nifty! Nifty! It only lasts until your space pod is demolished, which is when it runs out of fuel.

As you continue through the game, the planet maps of course are getting larger and larger so you'll probably soon find yourself getting lost. Therefore you should make sure to pickup gems and such spread across the planets, these gems will enable you to buy a copy of the world map, after level 1, which then can be accessed by pressing pause (start) and then select. Later on in the game you'll be able to buy an enhancement of the map which displays where gems and other items are placed. The map is surely one of the most valuable extras to buy.

If you've like to skip a few levels I've prepared some passwords that lets you start off on various levels in the game. Enjoy! :-)


Level 2

Level 3

The following is a list of my old passwords created back in the day

Planet 2 KLBHDHBBMKGB
Planet 3 KDBRNPBDRPHD
Planet 4 KBBMQQDBXPNB
Planet 5 KNDPBKKDGBNB
Planet 6 KBDQBKBBNBNB
Planet 7 LKDZKQHDTRNB
Planet 8 MDDBQBPDZZNB
Planet 9 MBGLNMKGHXNB
Planet 10 NKGMBDNGNTNB
Planet 11 NKGHLHHHTVNB
Planet 12 PMGPBPBBZLTB
Planet 13 MGHNGGHGHHNB
Planet XX BKKBKKHMBHMB

As Steve Hughes mentioned in our old interview the password system in Solar Jetman wasn't one of his best creations and as a result of this some rather strange passcodes exists such as the QQQQQQQQQQQQ which brings you to planet Q with gravity 0 and all you have to do here is find the missing warship piece and the game is almost over.

The intro screens to planet U are rather strange as is seems like the mothership crashes to the ground before the space pod i ejected.


Level U

Level U intro

Well Solar Jetman may seem a bit tedious at first, and it can be at times when you're getting lost in the underground mazes, but the game really deserves a try and once you're into the game you just can't let it stay unbeaten even though it's damn though :-)

So check it out...

On a side note, A gameboy version of Solar Jetman was actually planned was work was supposed to start shortly after the release of the NES version, but due to the poor sales of the NES version the idea was scrapped.

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