Jupiter & Mars Review
Could this be the future of the planet?
Video games as a whole are typically used as a form of escapism from the real world. Developer Tigertron was created to not only give players fun gaming experiences, but also to help send messages about the environment. The first of these projects has finally come to fruition with Jupiter & Mars, which is very fittingly releasing on Earth Day.
Jupiter & Mars takes place in a future version of Earth where the “earthwalkers” no longer exist after technology has ruined the oceans and overrun the coastal cities due to global warming essentially. You play as a female and male dolphin that are actually named Jupiter and Mars respectively, who are enlisted by a group of whales known as the Elders to go and shut down technology that is disrupting the ocean and the life within it. The game was also developed with help from organizations SeaLegacy and The Ocean Foundation, so it also has a connective tissue to the real world that really helps to show why people should be preserving the ocean.
You would assume that a game where you control a dolphin probably wouldn’t have the most complicated of controls and that is exactly the case. As you play the game, you control Jupiter, with Mars continually leading right in front of you. You can move by holding down R2 and aiming whichever direction you want to go or press L2 to move backwards. Pressing Triangle does a quick turnaround 180 degrees if you need to at anytime, which can feel a bit jarring at times. Press X will activate Echolocation to light up certain objects and wildlife, while Square actually sends out a Vortex Ring that can hit some enemies and also free those you are trying to help at times. There are also rock formations, gates, and the like that you need to smash to advance, but you will not be doing it with your dolphin. You will instead aim your ring at the area you want to smash and press Circle to have Mars ram into it. Mars will not hit everything, so be careful about what you are targeting.
There are most certainly enemies along the way in Jupiter & Mars and you have to be very careful, because your dolphin cannot be hit at all. If you are hit by an enemy, you will reset to a certain previous checkpoint. You are rarely placed very far away from where you were hit, but it’s still the best idea to avoid obstacles most of the time if you can. Instead, you must go on the offensive and try to knock back enemies instead or just play the dodge game if you can.
Jupiter & Mars has an interesting visual aesthetic that actually changes at times throughout the game. At first, the game looks pretty decent, but nothing all that special. The environments are fairly realistic and the dolphins look pretty cool overall. Where the game really impresses though is when you go a little deeper and get to the glow in the dark sections and others beyond that really light up the world under the sea. These are very visually pleasing and really help to show off the beauty of the game, with all the flora and fauna of the sea really standing out. Each new location changes up the visuals just a bit, which makes it really worth continuing to play if for that alone.
An undersea adventure might have you thinking of tranquil music only, but Jupiter & Mars offers an interesting soundtrack that features a mix of different musical variations. You will sometimes have the relaxing music you would expect from a game like this, but then it’s sometimes mixed with much more rockin’ types of music that also somehow manage to fit the game pretty well also.
The goal in Jupiter & Mars is to explore the ocean and find different tasks to complete. This may include saving certain sea animals or just having to shut down old technology left by the now dead human race. You often have to employ some strategies to get past some of these, though they rarely make you think too overly hard as a rule.
Features a mix of different musical variations.
Once you complete a certain set of tasks in the first area known as the Sunpool, you get to adventure into a portal to a new area and continue doing this throughout the game. Once you obtain new abilities, such as the Tail Kick that lets you traverse past strong currents, you can then eventually return to old areas to reach new locations that were impossible without these upgrades. This almost makes it feel like a very different kind of Metroidvania in some ways, which is definitely not something you would expect from a game where you are playing as dolphins. You are a bit more limited on when you can go back though.
Each area also has its own form of collectibles for you to find on top of the different animals you must free, which can be found within clams all throughout the sea. These are thankfully kept up within your Echo Vault Collection within the pause menu, so you can check and see what you still have left to collect. With such a vast area to explore though, these can often be easy to overlook, as the clams tend to blend in with the backgrounds pretty well. You can use your echolocation to help find them easier, but they can still be a bit hard to find sometimes. This can also extend to figuring out where to go in general, making it sometimes hard to decipher what you are supposed to be doing in a given area.
Jupiter & Mars also comes with fully integrated PlayStation VR support as well, which is always a great feature to have in new PS4 games. The VR support is just the game itself, but with you being right up close and personal with everything you find underwater. You can choose to move the camera around completely with the headset or change settings to use the analog stick to control the camera instead. Being able to swim around underwater in this game in VR feels incredibly immersive and is definitely worth a try for PSVR owners, even if you don’t actually need it.
There have been plenty of games that serve as a cautionary tale about potential dangers to the environment, but very few actually are designed specifically for that reason. Jupiter & Mars manages to do this while also offering a puzzle based adventure as you explore the ocean. While it can get a bit aimless at times due to the difficulty of figuring out where to go, Jupiter & Mars is a very unique game that is enhanced further with the integration of PSVR.
Following the journey of two neon colored dolphins, Jupiter & Mars can be enjoyed both with PSVR and without. Not only is it an actually well made underwater experience, but it also comes with a good message about protecting the future of the oceans in some interesting ways as well.
Jupiter & Mars
- Available On: PS4
- Published By: Tigertron
- Developed By: Tigertron, Tantalus, Wicked Witch
- Genre: Adventure/Puzzle
- US Release Date: April 22nd, 2019
- Reviewed On: PS4
- Quote: "Following the journey of two neon colored dolphins, Jupiter & Mars is a well made underwater experience that also comes with a good message about protecting the future of the oceans in some interesting ways as well."