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 and released in the US by Tradewest in 1990, and in Europe by Nintendo, for the NES. It was later released by Nintendo for their NES-based Play Choice 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.
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. It has a password after every world, but lives are not replenished on continuing.
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 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.
- Solar Jetman instruction manual at Atari HQ
- Myths and Legends article referring to the game at Ultimate Wurlde
- Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship at MobyGames
- Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship wiki guide at StrategyWiki