The Holidays are upon us and that means family and family means finding some way to keep ourselves busy so we don’t a) die of boredom during the awkward silences or b) say something incriminating and inflammatory during the gaps between the awkward silences. Thank the Maker we have handheld gaming devices that we pretend are for increasing our productivity. Case in point, my wife, and thus I, have come across Jetpack Joyride by Halfbrick Games, the makers of that nutritious time bandit: Fruit Ninja.

In Jetpack Joyride, you are a mischievous scamp who steals a jetpack and carries out a ride of carnage through a laser- and rocket-infested lab, collecting coins and ruining the hard work of several panicky scientists. The game is a simple side scroller that zooms past you at accelerating speeds while you tap the screen or let go in order to increase or decrease altitude. The mechanics are simple but as you collect power ups that transform your jetpack, they get increasingly complicated and put your physics-sense to the test. Various missions and challenges vary up the otherwise simple game.

The animations are clean and dynamic and gameplay is very easy to grasp. The real trick is figuring out whether to use your left or right thumb. Using the right obscures approaching dangers but using the left risks hiding your little man and trust me, you don’t want to do that. The coins you collect act as a kind of currency which you can use between games to purchase upgrades but more importantly, Hats! If the prospect of a top-hat wearing little man in a lab coat causing havoc in a smoke-spouting steampunk jetpack doesn’t have you jumping, I don’t know what will. It’s a perfect example of the kind of game someone like my wife who normally can’t handle five minutes of videogaming can spend hours in rapt attention poking.

Addictive and cute and there’s even a dragon. I’m for it.