You have to appreciate honesty. JAM is everything the title says it is: jets, aliens, and missiles. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer much more. Sure, jets, aliens, and missiles are awesome, but so are unique level designs, fun weapons, and challenging enemies.
JAM plays like a classic arcade flight/ action game. This sideview flyer pits your jet against an onslaught of incoming aliens. Your jet doesn’t move forward or backwards in the stage, just up and down, and you control it by moving your finger up and down on the screen. The jet is placed perfectly, so that your finger doesn’t obscure your view.
Firing your weapons is another story. Your default weapon is the heat-seeking missile. To launch this at your enemies, simply tap on them. To attack a string of enemies, tap and slide across a group of them. Your jet will release a stream of deadly missiles on every enemy you tapped. Occasionally, this weapon won’t recognize when you slid your finger across a group of four enemies and will only launch missiles at two or three. You can tap to release missiles manually, which you will need to do for single baddies with tough armor.
Unfortunately for you, your ship isn’t equipped to take a lot of damage. In fact, it’s not equipped to take any damage. Just like old school arcade games, if an enemy hits you at all, either by running into you or by launching a missile of its own, your ship will crash and burn.
Thankfully, you do have ways to improve your skills against the enemies. Your weapon systems can be upgraded using orbs that the enemies drop when you defeat them. You can purchase new weapons, like machine guns, or modules, increasing your ship’s capabilities. While it appears you can purchase an entirely new jet, there aren’t any options for that yet.
JAM only consists of five levels, each one more challenging than the last, and each one capped off with an excellent boss battle, which adds to the retro feel of this arcade-style game. Unfortunately, the five levels aren’t all that different. The backdrop may change, but it’s only a new coat of paint on the same house. Once completed, you can play each level over on a higher difficulty, which adds a bit of replayability, but it doesn’t make up for repetitive levels.
One rare feature (for the moment) is that JAM is designed for the iPhone 5’s longer screen. This game is certainly a good use of extra screen real estate, but we’d also like to see more original gameplay or unique elements. For fans of flight action games, JAM is a game with a classic feel on a new device. For those who aren’t as fond, this game will probably seem bland and uninteresting when compared with other games out there.