Jet Moto (known as Jet Rider in Europe) is a 1996 racing video game developed by SingleTrac and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation and PC. The PlayStation version was released in North America on October 31, 1996, in Europe in February 1997, and Japan on August 7, 1997. The PC version was released on November 30, 1997. On February 4, 2007 Jet Moto was made available for the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3 via the PlayStation Network.
Gameplay in Jet Moto revolves around the use of hoverbikes to traverse a race course, similar to modern day motorcross, but with the added ability to traverse water. Reviews for the game were mixed, and Jet Moto the PC version currently holds 75% and the PlayStation version 78.9% at gaming aggregator GameRankings. Reviewers felt the game had solid gameplay, but criticized its high difficulty. Jet Moto's popularity would earn it a spot in the PlayStation Greatest Hits in August 1998, and it would spawn to additional sequels, Jet Moto 2 and Jet Moto 3.
GameplayEditGameplay in Jet Moto differs from that of a traditional racing game with cars or motorcycles. Players instead control hoverbikes which sit close to the ground and can be ridden over land and water. Most of the courses in the games are designed to take advantage of this ability. Characters are split into teams, and bikes are adorned with logos of products such as Mountain Dew and Butterfinger, similar to real-life sponsored racing.
Twenty Characters and three tracks are available at the beginning of the game, with seven more tracks unlockable by winning tournaments. The game has a its variant of the traditional road course, but also introduces a new course type, known as a suicide course. Instead of being a continuous loop, these tracks have checkpoints at either end of the course, and the starting grid in the center. Characters race to one end, then turn around to head for the other checkpoint, repeating the process until all laps are complete. This provides a new gameplay dynamic as often the player must navigate oncoming traffic. Courses range from beaches with debris-littered water, ice covered mountains, and even a floating track set high above a city.
Jet Moto also utilizes a system called the magnetic grapple. Pressing the assigned button near a red energy pole creates a magnetic attraction between the player's bike the pole. Energy poles are often placed strategically throughout the courses, enabling racers to "slingshot" around tight turns without slowing down. The magnetic grapple system is also sometimes used to swing over large gaps and chasms otherwise too large to ride over. In addition to the grapple system players are given four boosts per lap, which provide a temporary burst of speed.
Players can choose to race a single race, a season of races, or a custom season. Racing season races on higher difficulties awards the player with addition tracks to race on. Players can also unlock a stunt mode by completing a full season with all tracks unlocked at the professional difficulty level. Stunt mode allows players to receive additional boosts by successfully landing rolls or flips over jumps. The PlayStation version of the game allows for two player splitscreen multiplayer, however no AI racers are present, limiting the competitors to two. The PC version allows for 14 players over an IPX network, as well as Internet TCP/IP and modem-to-modem connections.
Jet Moto was conceived as a "science fiction motorcross." The developers chose to create jet motos instead of wheeled vehicles due to concerns over polygon limitations. Travis Hilton, lead programmer for the game designed Jet Moto's physics engine. Due to hardware limitations, only the player used this physics system. Programmer Jay Barnson was tasked with developing a simpler physics system to handle the nineteen AI riders. During development a set of courses set in a stadium were dropped as the developers felt it did not fit the theme of the game.
Developers originally intended for players to be permanently out of a race when falling far off a track, however they came to realize that it was not fun for players "to be forced to go slow or suffer an instant defeat." An attempt was made to give three "strikes" to a rider. Once the rider fell for the third time they were out of the race. However once implemented developers noticed that the number of racers remaining at the end of the race was too random to be deemed any fun. In the end the decision was made to simply respawn the character on the track. The PC version was ported in large part by John Olsen, who worked on the port as his first task at SingleTrac. Axiom Design created the user interface for the game, which has a comic book-inspired feel. The music for Jet Moto was produced by Big Idea Music Productions. For the PlayStation release in Europe, Jet Moto was retitled Jet Rider.
Jet Moto received varied reviews among critics, with the PC version averaging 75% and the PlayStation version averaging 78.9% at gaming aggregator GameRankings. Due to the game's popularity it was added to the PlayStation Greatest Hits in August 1998.
Several reviewers praised the overall gameplay of Jet Moto, with IGN calling it one of the best racing games available for the PlayStation. In its PlayStation 3 Retro Roundup, IGN pointed out the game's direct competitors at the time, Wave Race 64 and the Wipeout series, then stated Jet Moto was "still a pretty fun experience more than 10 years after its original release", calling it "tough, fast and ... fun." Electric Playground praised the design of the jet moto bikes, calling them "ridiculously cool," stating they felt like they had "just popped out of an imaginative teenager's art book." Several reviewers also praised the soundtrack to the game. Game Revolution called the Dick Dale-esque music "reminiscent of spy tunes from James Bond movies". The surf guitar was a strong point for Electric Playground, who cited it as one of the best video game soundtracks of 1996. GameSpot reviewer Shane Mooney said the soundtrack was "just the adrenaline pump [he] needed."
Reviewers felt the game had an extremely high degree of difficulty. GamePro cited overly skilled AI racers and poor collision detections as reasons to "steer clear". Several reviewers cited the games graphics as a down point in the game, although GameSpot's review of the PC port praised the 3Dfx support. Electric Playground also compared it to Wave Race 64, but called the game "light on the great graphics".
Jet Moto's popularity would spawn two additional sequels, Jet Moto 2, also developed by SingleTrac, and Jet Moto 3, developed by Pacific Coast Power & Light. Two other titles were cancelled during their development. Pacific Coast Power & Light was also developing Jet Moto 2124 for the PlayStation, set over a century after the first three games, however the game was cancelled when Jet Moto 3 showed poor sales. Jet Moto: SOLAR, developed by RedZone Interactive, was also cancelled. SOLAR would have been the first title in the series to appear on the PlayStation 2.
Present-day wishlists for video game sequels have often included Jet Moto. 1UP.com listed a fourth Jet Moto in their "Sequels We Want, and the Formulas They Need" feature, stating that Jet Moto "symbolized everything that made the original PlayStation cooler than anything else at the time". IGN felt similarly, listing Jet Moto in their "Dirty Dozen: Revival of the Fittest" feature, calling the game "a novel racer with enough staying power to make it an instant hit".