Chillingo’s Rocket Riot is yet another twin-stick shooter, but with a unique graphical style…
Retro-style graphics are right up my street. Particularly when that style is mixed with 3D, and Rocket Riot does not disappoint. As each level starts, it is presented to you in full and look like something from the NES days. Then the camera zooms into the level, and reveals that the 2D pixels are in fact fully 3D. What’s more, every part of the level can be destroyed by your rockets, and explodes into a satisfying waterfall of pixels.
The main protagonist is a strange rocket-like character, with a rocket booster instead of legs, and armed with a rocket launcher. He is on a quest to track down the evil Blockbeard (a pixel pirate). Similarly, all characters can fly with their own rocket powered bottoms. Unlike the environments however, the characters are stuck in 2D mode, and flip around when they change direction, a la Paper Mario.
Beneath the quirky presentation lies a fairly standard twin stick shooter, requiring you to clear the arena-like levels of Blockbeard’s henchmen before moving onto the next. Levels come packaged into themes, each culminating in a boss battle. These themes range from warehouses, science labs, computer circuit boards, haunted mansions and pirate ships. Each is lovely built from pixels blocks – resembling a land made from LEGO – but the Blockbeard storyline loosely links these themes and levels together, and I think the game would have benefitted without it.
Generally you are tasked with taking out a set amount of enemies, but occasionally the game throws two other modes of play at you. One of these is a Rugby mode, where you must hunt down a rugby ball somewhere in the level, and bring it back and pass it through the goal posts. The other requires you to take out various parts of the level, such as pixel blocks resembling shoes, or computers for example. I understand how the destruction of objects fits into the gameplay and story, but the rugby mode is a complete mystery to me.
While the campaign offers plenty of twin stick shooting fun, with multiple power-ups for your rockets, a host of levels, and a tonne of characters to unlock, I feel it’s begging for both a local and multiplayer option. Blasting the level to pieces while hunting down your friends would add to the experience greatly. Also, the rugby mode would actually make sense in a multiplayer setting.
Overall you’ll have fun with Rocket riot. As the title suggests, it features rockets, and it is somewhat of a riot, so in that respect it delivers. But, I couldn’t help but think I would have liked to see this excellent 3D-pixel graphics engine put to better use. Something where there was more of a direct link to the destruction of the level into pixels and the end goal. Instead, it feels like the twin-stick gameplay and graphics engine have been thrown together last minute, rather than building something more unique.