Up Up and Away
Rocket Warrior is a game that shows how to make twitch controls work on a buttonless platform. It’s also a game that demonstrates the advantages to proper level design. While certainly not the only auto-scroll game in the iOS library, Rocket Warrior is one that has a bit more planning and thought put into it than your average endless runner. Unfortunately, despite a solid concept, the overall package that feels a bit more underwhelming than it should due to minimalistic art design and fairly uncreative animation and sprite work.
The game comes with three worlds, sixteen stages in each. Each stage is meticulously designed such that while there may be a few options to proceed, there’s clearly one perfect route through. Three star coins little each stage, but there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason to get them aside from wanting to complete as many of the game’s objectives as possible. Even so, the star coins are not so out of the way that you feel anything but required to get them. Maybe it’s just me, but completing a level without grabbing all three feels like a distinctly incomplete task.
The stages are quite difficult, and the game only offers tilt controls to move your character left and right. As a result, you have to be very precise with your movements if you’re going to have any shot at making it through the levels alive. Just one hit and you’re a goner, unless you upgrade your suit to take additional damage. The high level of difficulty works well to keep you coming back and playing the levels over and over again so that you get a better score, or more star coins. The harder levels will require you to memorize the layout of obstacles in the stage so that you can act early to fire a missile or get a head start on moving around multiple obstacles.
The upgrades are purchased by in-game coins. Unlike many other games on the App Store, there is no option to short-cut the coin collecting via in-app purchase. Thankfully none of the upgrades are so unreasonably priced that you couldn’t earn them without spending ridiculous amounts of time in the game. Even better, these aren’t temporary bonuses – each upgrade you buy is an item you can equip at the start of every stage. Among the more useful items is the Magnetizer, which draws coins in from around you as you fly by, making it a much quicker task to buy more upgrades.
The look and feel of the game is passable, but it’s hard to say much more than that. Your character sprite, a friendly looking armored warrior, leans left and right as he flies up, but it doesn’t feel much more sophisticated than any flash game you played ages ago. The three worlds in the game are each set in different environments, but all of them are dark and dingy. The levels don’t really do much to match their world in terms of the types of hazards present. The only real changes in the stage design as the is a gradual increase in difficulty, and the occasional encounter of a new type of hazard. The stages really ramp up in difficulty toward the end of the third world; anyone looking to get all three star coins in the third world has their work cut out for them.
Rocket Warrior isn’t a bad game, it’s just not a particularly inspiring one. With some updates to the visual design, more worlds with more creative presentation, and a bit more polish in the front end, this game could be great. Certainly, the core concept is worth a look. If you’re looking for a challenging game that fits well on the platform, Rocket Warrior is worth a shot.
Rocket Warrior is out now for $0.99