Willy Jetman: Astromonkey’s Revenge (Switch, PS4, PC)

A starship with a careless space chimp pilot on board has exploded, leaving wreckage on a nearby planet.  So now it’s up to intergalactic garbage man Willy Jetman to clean up the mess.  But as he’s cleaning up, he ends up fighting some rogue robots and frees a space monkey from their prison.  Could this be the same monkey from the crashed spaceship?  And why is the monkey causing so much trouble?  It’s up to you to find out in this 2-D action platform shooter, available on most current consoles and PC (reviewed on Switch here).  The game kind of reminds me of a cross between Cave Story and an obscure NES game I used to rent as a kid called Solar Jetman.

As Willy, you can jump and shoot two different weapons with the face buttons.  Hold down the R trigger button to use your jetpack, which lets you fly for a limited amount of time.  The L trigger button will bring up a map with points of interest in the current area your in.  Your main goal is to pick up trash and take it to warp portals that’ll send it back to your talking garbage truck.  Along the way, alien creatures will try to harm you and you must destroy them.  When you do, they’ll drop crystals that you can use to buy things, and you’ll gain experience and level up, too.  When you level up, you may get more energy or jet fuel, but it’s a bit unclear as to when you level up and what you get when you do.

There are caves scattered about each area that you can enter.  Most of these caves house save points and shops.  The shops let you switch out weapons, and if you find a poster of a new weapon in the wild, you can use it at the shop, as well as upgrade your weapons with the crystals you find.  Other caves have challenging dungeon mazes and bosses to fight, with usually some kind of reward at the end.   The game could be described as a “Metroidvania,” meaning you explore mazes and come back with more powerful items so you can visit places you couldn’t reach before.  However, Willy Jetman seemed a bit more linear to me, especially at first.  I did like the 16-bit style graphics and some of the chiptunes in the areas were pretty catchy.

I did have a few problems with the game, though.  First the graphics and text are so tiny, it makes it a little hard to play in handheld mode on the Switch.  You lose a lot of graphic detail and the map is harder to read, too.  Also the game is just too darn hard.  I died a lot and while I was glad there were plenty of save points, there was one point where I got kind of stuck in a dungeon with a hard robot boss and I couldn’t get out.  Protip: if you see a cave with a bunch of downward stairs and fireballs, don’t go in unless you are fully prepared, or else don’t use the save point right before the boss.  But if you are up to the challenge, Willy Jetman is still a competent game.

Kid Factor:

Willy Jetman: Astromonkey’s Revenge is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Fantasy Violence.  You can shoot aliens and robots with lasers, missiles, and bombs, but they just explode and disappear when defeated.  Reading skill is a must for the text, and younger gamers may find it too difficult.

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