Solar Jetman

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Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship
Box art for Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship. The cover mis-spells the game as Warship
Box art for Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship. The cover mis-spells the game as "Warship"
Developer(s) Zippo Games, Rare Ltd.
Publisher(s) Tradewest
Designer(s) Ste and John Pickford
Artist(s) Lyndon Brooke
Ste Pickford
Composer(s) David Wise
Platform(s) Nintendo Entertainment System, PlayChoice-10
Release date(s) NES
  • NA October 1990
  • EU September 26, 1991
Genre(s) Shoot 'em up
Mode(s) Single player

Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship (known as Iota during development) is the third video game in the Jetman series. It was designed and developed by Zippo Games for Rare Ltd. and released by Tradewest in 1990 for the NES. It was later released by Nintendo for their Nintendo Entertainment System-based PlayChoice-10 arcade system.


The game is a multi-directional shooter in the vein of Thrust and Gravitar. The player's craft is subject to inertia but not drag, so to stop moving in one direction it needs to thrust in the opposite way. The constant pull of gravity makes stable flight challenging and steering a skill in itself.

The rotational-based pod steering controls, while allowing for more precise maneuvers, made pod control confusing for many players, especially in high-gravity areas.

Solar Jetman has twelve planets and one hidden planet, each with its own gravity and system of enemy-infested caverns. The goal is to navigate these caves with small jetpods launched from an immobile mothership, on each world bringing back a piece of the warpship and enough fuel to journey to the next one. Items are collected with a tractor beam/tow cable that makes flight more difficult, and released over the mothership or deposited in small wormholes deeper in the caverns. Points are earned by retrieving valuables and destroying enemies, and can be spent after every other stage to buy power-ups, both pod-specific and permanent. The most vital ones are found on the field. If a pod is destroyed, the pilot ejects in an agile but feeble spacesuit and can be returned to the ship or a wormhole for another craft. Losing a spacesuit costs one of four lives.

While the main character belongs to the "Federation of Space Loonies", Solar Jetman has no space for more humor other than the occasional irreverent touches. Crates of valuables may turn out to contain rare radioactive elements or Easter Island heads, or in some cases, "absolutely nothing".

Like many other games published by Tradewest, Solar Jetman is widely considered a very difficult game. This led to the development of a fan-made password generator that allows players to access all of the planets directly.[1] It has a password after every world, but lives are not replenished on continuing.

Other ports[edit]

Sales Curve Interactive announced ports and released screenshots of Solar Jetman for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Atari ST and Commodore Amiga, all developed by Software Creations and intended for release on the STORM label, garnering positive previews.

The Commodore 64, Amiga and Atari ST versions were complete and the ZX Spectrum reached a playable demo state[2] before the project was cancelled due to poor sales of the Nintendo original and perceived unsuitability for the home computer markets.

The Commodore 64 version has subsequently been discovered and made available for download.[3][4]

An Xbox One version is slated for future release as part of the Rare Replay collection.


  1. ^ "Solar Jetman Password Generator". Retrieved 2006-05-06. 
  2. ^ "Solar Jetman preview". CRASH Issue 86 (Newsfield). March 1, 1991. Retrieved 2006-05-06. 
  3. ^ "Review - Solar Jetman". Games That Weren't. Retrieved 2012-12-21. 
  4. ^ Fisher, Andrew (December 2013). "The Commodore 64 Games that Time Forgot". Retro Gamer (122) (Imagine Publishing). p. 56. 

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