The Xbox Windows Phone lineup has a spotty track record with time management games. Sally’s Salon was fantastic, but then it was followed up by the less impressive (and more bug-filled) Sally’s Spa. Both titles wore their feminine themes on their sleeves, making them less appealing to certain insecure male gamers. The only male-targeted genre entry, Star Wars Cantina got itself delisted last year, depriving WP gamers of the precious Star Wars license and lots of grinding.
Thankfully Nokia, along with developer Big Stack Studios and publisher Chillingo have come along with a more gender neutral time management title: Jet Set Go (not to be confused with SEGA’s Jet Set Radio). Not only can both guys and gals appreciate the game’s travel industry theme, but it even outdoes all the previously mentioned games in variety.
Jet Set Go started out as a timed Nokia exclusive before becoming available to all Windows Phone users in June 2013. Read on to see whether it’s worth a buy.
Instead of running a chain of salons or spas, this game has players operating a series of four travel agencies across the world. Reach a four-star rating (out of five) in one and you can move on to the next one. Each new agency is larger than the one before, providing many new services and minigames to keep players busy. As for those star ratings, they function like the days (levels) in the Sally’s games. To reach a new rating, you’ll have to fill up three meters: Excitement, Appeal, and Satisfaction.
Excitement and Appeal
You’ll raise these two stats from the comfort of your agency office. The agency gameplay will be instantly familiar to Sally’s Salon players, as it works just about identically. Customers enter the business and sit down. A voice bubble above their heads tells you what services they require. You’ll then direct them to the appropriate station for that service. Unlike the Sally’s games, there is no option to just tap the customer and station. They must be dragged there - a slight drag, but I got used to it fairly quickly.
The first agency offers a relatively small assortment of services, but by the end of the game your customers will have access to the following stations and services:
- Red Chairs: Answer customers’ questions by simply tapping them (no minigame). Soon you’ll be able to hire and assistant to answer their questions for you.
- Blue Chairs: The one chair that every single customer will sit in. First you’ll help them pick a destination by scrolling through the list of available locations. A 3D globe swirls around as the destination changes, providing a nice bit of eye candy. After choosing a destination, many customers will want an in-flight meal. Scrolling through meals works the same way as destinations; finding one that makes them smile increases their happiness.
- Yellow Ticketing Stations: These work just like red chairs, so no minigame. Eventually you can hire a ticketing attendant.
- Purple Chairs: Help the customer choose a hotel by scrolling through a vertical list. Sometimes they’ll want help picking an activity. A voice bubble shows the one they want, and you just have to pick it from a list of symbols.
- Green Chairs: The scheduling minigame is my favorites. A simple puzzle, it involves sliding 1-4 blocks into empty spots on an itinerary. Sometimes customers will need a passport photo taken as well. You’ll draw the curtain by swiping from left to right, and then focus by moving a slider into the optimal position.
- Cashier Station: When a client has finished choosing services, it’s time to check them out. This works like the red and yellow stations, including the ability to hire a cashier so you don’t have to visit the register.
By making a customer smile in the various minigames, you’ll fill up that person’s stars. The more stars they have when they check out, the more your overall Excitement meter fills up. Make them frown or keep them waiting too long and they’ll lose a star. If they run out of stars, they’ll leave. Allow three customers to walk out unhappy and you’ll fail the level, but the game is so easy you’d really have to want to fail to make that happen.
The money earned from working in the agency can be spent on various upgrades for that location. These include chairs that keep customers happy for longer and attendants to work at certain stations. The variety of upgrades is a bit inferior to the Sally’s titles though; you can’t even improve your character’s walking speed. After purchasing enough upgrades, you’ll fill up the Appeal meter.
In keeping with the travel theme, each client served in the agency gets put on one of several planes. Each of the four agency locations has its own unique destinations for these planes to visit. Once the planes fill up, you can play minigames that represent the trip the travelers took. The exact content of the minigames varies depending on the location, but they fall into these basic categories:
- Restaurant: Customers enter and sit down, at which point you visit them to take their order. Then they start ordering various dishes, which you must fetch from chef’s table. Your character can only carry two dishes at a time, and if she picks up the wrong dish she’ll have to walk to the trash can to throw it away. This plays just like Star Wars Cantina, but it’s also the hardest minigame. You’ll have to be quick and pick things up in a smart order to avoid getting walk-outs and failing.
- Resort: Assign guests to sunbathing or relaxing in the pool. They also order drinks (which you have to make) and ask for seashells.
- Sightseeing: Visitors may want to visit the information desk, use binoculars, or take a photo.
- Dancing: A simple rhythm minigame in which you must tap arrows that match the ones scrolling by. I found this to be the fastest and easiest minigame.
The only purpose of the traveling minigames is to fill up the Satisfaction meter; you don’t earn money from it. Because of that lessened integration, these activities start to feel like a chore after a while.
Jet Set Go is an easy game with Achievements to match. You can even earn them all on Easy difficulty, though I played on Normal without experiencing much challenge outside of the restaurant minigame.
One Achievement that takes a little setting up is ‘Barista Blitz.’ It can only be unlocked from the restaurant minigame in Italy, which you can access from the Hong Kong Agency. To serve five coffees in a row for the Achievement, you’ll have to wait for a bunch of customers to order coffee and overlook any other types of orders. The game could use a few more creative/non-automatic Achievements like that.
Of the Xbox Windows Phone time management games currently available, Jet Set Go is pretty much the best of the bunch. It has the most accessible theme, the greatest variety of activities, and the least overall challenge. You may want to bump the difficulty up to Hard if you dislike the lack of challenge. The game’s only real fault is that it overstays its welcome. It takes far too long to achieve a five-star rating on the third and fourth travel agencies, making them feel like a big grind. Still, the whole game and all of its Achievements can be completed in eight hours or so, making for a reasonable length overall. If you enjoy time management games, don’t hesitate to grab Jet Set Go.
Jet Set Go costs $2.99 and runs great on WP7 and WP8 handsets. Get it here from the Store.