This title was reviewed on Nintendo Switch, but is also available on PS4 and PC.
I find myself drawn to titles like ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS quite often. A deceptively simple, fun and addictive party game in the same vein as games like Nidhogg, Starwhals and to a lesser extent Luftrausers. Games like these can draw me in for hours with the straightforward gameplay loop and unique visuals that sets them apart from almost anything else. Let’s see how ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS stacks up.
Before anything else, let’s get some background on this little ditty shall we? ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS was developed by a company called Radial Games, also known for Mini-Metro, and was published in-house in 2015. ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS was met with praise for its satisfying gameplay and unique visuals winning multiple awards for “best of PAX” and the “Indiecade selection” for 2014.
The game doesn’t have any narrative to speak of and it definitely doesn’t need one. You are a rocket firing rockets at other, slightly different coloured, rockets. The game is clearly focused around the simple team versus team competition and all you need to know is that someone wins and the other loses, we all get to make silly faces and laugh at the poor soul who has their rocket blown up by slightly smaller, more explosive rockets.
Visual design and soundtrack is where this game shines like a diamond. The backdrops are dotted with abstract shapes giving a very early 90s retro-future aesthetic. Every rocket on screen leaves a trail like a highlighter across an etch-a-sketch that pulses in time with the music, creating murals of hectic combat. All of this is shown off in the game’s “Zen Mode” where the attention to detail with the style is shown off in all its glory. Very specific to the Nintendo Switch version is the inclusion of the handheld mode for launching rockets on the go. While the larger four-player modes can get confusing at times on the smaller screen with the dynamic camera and the size of the ships but the game’s overall fidelity is preserved well. Frame rates hold at a steady sixty so even the most intense fights run buttery smooth. I only ever noticed one frame drop in the options menu. I would recommend this game on its vibrant and unique design alone, it is truly something to experience.
Gameplay and combat in ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS are exactly what it needs to be. Like firing a bouncy ball out of a cannon into a room full of people. It’s chaotic, relies on instinct, fast reactions and split-second manoeuvres not to get instantly hit by something going 100 kilometres an hour and probably on fire. Movement feels great, rockets have immediate reactions to your stick but have enough inertia to make it feel like an accomplishment to hit a tight turn or to make a life-saving dodge in the nick of time. There are also several ships to choose from that change the handling in speed, turn radius and time it takes to charge your abilities. ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS’s combat is standard fare for this genre. Rockets feel gratifying when you make contact with the enemy team due to the visual and sound effects that follow. Players, of course, have access to charging their abilities to make them more powerful. Rockets multiply in number as do the mines and bombs the player has in their arsenal when starting their dogfight. Powerups can change the tide of a fight and save you from teeth gritting loss and make it a hard fought victory. There isn’t very much to learn after you have mastered your movement so the depth of the game definitely hits its maximum after a short while. It is a party game after all.
This game is simple, simple and addictive and well worth its $5 price point. The depth of the game, the lack of narrative and the very little single player content makes it hard to sit down and play the game for hours on end, but the movement, visuals combat and the soundtrack and the way it interacts with the game make it a game that I will come back to, that my hands will drift to on long bus rides and plane trips. I recommend this game to Nintendo Switch owners and I think it would make a great addition to your library.