Jet Rocket (1970): The First Open-World Game

We are in the zenith of Open World Games, sprawling sandboxes where above all else, player choice dominates. These games offer storylines, missions, quests, and objectives, which players are free to complete their own pace. 

From fantasy worlds to futuristic galaxies, from modern cities to post-apocalyptic wastelands, the open-world games offer players the freedom to choose their course, to do what they want when they want, and provide their self-guided adventures with an exciting and satisfying atmosphere.

But open world games aren’t something new. The first open-world game, Jet Rocket was released in 1970 by SEGA. This game laid the foundation of open-world games, a genre that would shake the gaming world completely.

Jet Rocket (1970)

Jet Rocket (1970): The First Open-World Game

Jet Rocket, released in 1970 by SEGA, is a flight simulator that uses visual techniques that have been used for military flight simulators as well. Playing Jet Rocket with a controller stick is indeed a simulation experience. Each mission is a truly extraordinary experience with captivating 3D graphics and authentic sounds.

It features free-roaming, first-person gameplay for flight shooting. It was the first flight simulator game, a genre that it introduced to the arcade industry. The first-person shooter, the first open-world sandbox game, and the first action-adventure game were all Jet Rocket.


Jet Rocket (1970): The First Open-World Game

The player controls the jet through a joystick handle using controls that look like a cockpit and aims rockets in a night mission to intercept target areas such as fuel dumps, missile bases, island fortresses and air strips. The rocket is fired by pressing the firing button. The rocket explodes the targets, and a score (5 points per hit) is indicated. Light and sound effects described the impact of rockets on targets.

The controls of the cockpit drive the player’s aircraft around the displayed 3D landscape on a screen and fire missiles on targets that explode when struck.


Jet Rocket was created in the last 1960s by the SEGA Production and Engineering Department headed by Hisashi Suzuki. The game got a grand reception in the Asian market where it was launched initially. The early reception was also the same when the game made its debut in the American market in 1970. But soon after the release of the game in America, it was cloned by three Chicago Manufacturers (Target Zero and Flotilla). This hurt the export of Jet Rocket to America.


Jet Rocket was the earliest first-person flight simulator game, the genre that the game introduced to the arcade industry, and in turn to the video game industry.

It featured shooting and flight action from a first-person perspective in a 3D setting. It can be seen as an inspiration to first person vehicle fighting games such as Battlezone (1980) and Hovertank 3D (1991)

Jet Rocket as the first-person shooter predated on other famous mid-1970s video game titles, like Maze War and Spasim for several years. 

Jet Rocket (1970): The First Open-World Game

Jet Rocket introduced the open-world genre as it rocked a free-roaming flight movement in interactive games for the first time. Jet Rocket also influenced the development of free-roaming flight simulators video games such as Flight Simulator (1980) along with its clone Target Zero and Flotilla, which influenced open-world space flight simulators such as Elite (1984) and which in turn influenced Grand Theft Auto (1997).

Jet Rocket was also the first action-adventure game, combining action gameplay with open-world adventure exploration.

The best open-world games are great for the winter months. They’re the kind of games that will totally overwhelm you, whisk you away for hours , confuse you with powerful stories, countless side quests, and views to make you reach for the photo mode button immediately.

Though Jet Rocket is not a kind of a game that would totally overwhelm you, whisk you away for hours, engage you with powerful stories or countless side quests, but introduced us with the open-world genre of games.

Today, we admire SEGA for gifting us the open-world games.

Thank You SEGA!

Liked this piece? Also read, Artificial Intelligence in Games.

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