GI Joyce is the creation of Rob Crossley and Kevin Chandler, who constitute the Ukie game jam duo, Outside Oxford. It’s due on iOS, PC and Android and was reviewed on iPhone.
The game sees you taking on the role of the titular grandma, Joyce, as streams of hostile flying ninjas constantly advance towards you. Tapping anywhere on the screen controls Joyce’s position on the horizontal plane, on the right hand side of the screen.
With her gun constantly firing, you only need to worry about ensuring you’re the right place at the right time. Your foes can sustain several hits before disappearing, which is communicated effectively via brief flashes of red illuminating them when they’re hit.
The ‘swap’ element that was the theme of the game jam is incorporated through the ninjas swapping their sword for a gun if you miss a package and let one of them collect it. Penalising the player for missing a collectible like this is an interesting idea, which acts as a good extra incentive to not let any slip by.
It can feel a little frustrating that once you’ve missed a package there is often little you can do to stop a swarm of enemies from getting it, though. Additionally, when they do collect a package, the difficulty curve of the game rises exponentially, as the enemy bullets are quick, difficult to spot and will end your game in one shot.
Arrows that appear at the right hand side of the screen denote where a package is about to appear. The more packages you collect, the higher your score multiplier becomes, it is only persistent in one game session though, meaning that you’ll have to remember your personal best the next time you play.
A persistent score, addition of a high score table and perhaps even online leaderboards would really add to the title by expanding the competitive aspect, which is one of the major focuses of the game.
The theme of ‘swap’ could probably have been better embraced as it feels like somewhat of a minor element and could have been better integrated. The crates not providing any power-ups also seems like a missed trick that could have added some extra depth to the game.
The colourful, stylised visuals mean that it’s a good looking game, especially for one made in 48 hours and the parallaxing backgrounds ensure that it looks even better in motion. Reinforcing this is Joyce’s animation, or gran-imation as Crossley rechristened it, which is a constant rocking that’s oddly mesmerising.
Unfortunately, the game’s music only plays for a minute and a half and doesn’t restart unless you exit and restart the game. While the metal soundtrack possibly wouldn’t be your average grandma’s listening preference, it suits the game surprisingly well, and who knows what most grandmas might choose to listen to whilst battling armies of flying ninjas.
Overall, GI Joyce is a fun game that could have done with a bit more polish and more time. You could almost say it feels rushed.
The title is enjoyable, especially considering the constraints it was developed under and is frenetically paced, ensuring that when you’re ultimately swarmed by angry ninjas, you’re left with the urge to have one more go to try and beat your score, which is always a promising sign.