Rocket Riot has been developed by Codeglue who are based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The studio will be familiar with many of you for different reasons. For PC and PS3 players you may be familiar with ibb & obb, their outstanding co-op game. They also developed the iOS version of Terraria and have other titles to their name. They are presently developing Antegods which is their answer to the arena action genre. It will be released on PC, PS4, and Xbox but has yet to have a release date announced.
A Short History
For those that are unaware, Rocket Riot itself isn’t a new title. It was originally released on the Xbox 360 and made available through the Xbox Live Arcade back in 2009. It was met with a warm critical reception as the Xbox release holds a Metacritic score of 80. Review scores range from a low of 70 (Eurogamer, GamePro and Planet Xbox 360) right up to a couple of scores in the 90s (GamingXP and TeamXbox). It was generally considered to be a great release for the Xbox Live Arcade with reviewers deeming it to be addictive and a lot of fun.
My Own Experience
I sunk many hours into the game on Xbox 360 as a friend, who I was living with at the time, recommended it to me. The game is a side-scrolling, 8-bit shooter that becomes extremely addictive. The addictive nature of the game comes through a combination of its non-stop action and its strong personality which is achieved through a stellar presentation.
Consequently, I have always hoped that the game would have a Steam release. I was a little disappointed when it didn’t happen. As the game was originally published by THQ I had given up hope when they went under and it was clear that Codeglue had moved onto other projects. I had sincerely believed that they had given up on the game regardless of how warmly it was reviewed.
It was a very pleasant surprise to see that Codeglue had finally given the game a Steam release. This release came in mid-October when I was in the process of fully developing and working on the site so I initially didn’t see its release otherwise, this review would have come much earlier.
Thankfully, the game is every bit as good as I remember it as being. The port is extremely high quality to the point where I wonder if they didn’t remake the game from scratch. Either way, the studio’s continued level of developing outstanding indie games remains firmly intact.
As previously mentioned the game is an 8-bit side scrolling shooter. Many games within the genre rely on utilizing the same gameplay mechanics throughout their entirety. Part of what makes Rocket Riot so genius is that Codeglue has steered away from the norm.
There are many different modes within the game. Some of these are very different than your standard deathmatch or eliminate X number of enemies to complete the round. For example, one of my favorites has been inspired by rugby. There is a ball that you need to pick up at one end of the level and you must take it all the way to the other end and kick the ball through the goals.
Levels such as this occur regularly enough throughout the campaign that you’re always looking forward to the next level. This makes playing through the campaign and each of the game’s nine worlds a rewarding experience. In all, there are over 200 single player missions and as there are enough varying environments there is no real tediousness or reason to become bored with the game.
Levels range from short rounds of about a minute or so right through to completing the level over a period of five to ten minutes. I had a tendency of rushing through the levels only to see that the par time for completing a level was five or so minutes longer than what I spent playing it. I do wonder if rushing through the levels limited me from getting the highest score possible for a level. If so, I can understand why there are players with significantly higher standings on the Steam leaderboards.
There are also over three hundred different playable characters to be unlocked. In my opinion, these characters vary only in their cosmetic nature rather than how they handle and play differently. However, it is a nice feature that you can change your appearance so wildly.
I have only played the game using my Xbox One controller. However, the game also makes use of the mouse and keyboard. The game controls superbly with the controller and I would recommend it.
Power Ups and Bosses
Two aspects of the game that require independent mention are the power-ups and the boss systems.
These are two features of the game that most gamers will have come to expect from games like this one. There are three different types of power-ups that have been featured within the game. You have defensive power-ups, ones that help you attack and utility power-ups. Learning what each one does can be overwhelming because there are just so many, there are twenty in total, that become available. They also drop at extremely regular intervals so it feels like you’re never without one. It is also noteworthy that some are strictly comedic in nature. For example, there is a weapon power-up that humorously shoots ‘bang’ flags instead of damaging bullets.
The boss system is well executed. There are ‘boss levels’ where the entire level is based upon the boss fight. However, there are also other levels that feature mini-bosses as a bonus to the level itself. The bosses are sufficiently different and require learning their varied mechanics to overcome. My personal favorite thus far comes relatively early in the game. The boss throws boxes at you as he roams throughout the level. The boxes hit hard and take quite a bit of your health away from you. However, you can attack them and remove them from the screen.
The presentation of the game is stellar. I found myself enjoying the colorful pixel artwork. I believe that Codeblue has given sufficient thought to the overall appearance of the game and have arrived at a healthy result. From what I can remember the overall appearance of the game hasn’t altered very much from its original release. However, to be fair, they haven’t had to.
One aspect of the presentation that perhaps should be a gameplay feature is the fact that the environments are destructible. Further, the environments regenerate over time after they have been blown to smithereens.
Where the game shines from a presentation perspective, however, is in its magical soundtrack. You can discover this for yourself in watching the game trailer. SonicPicnic has done a commendable job. The songs help build a great atmosphere throughout the game and draw the player into its charm.
For those who do not know, SonicPicnic has become a well-known composer in the video games industry. Among some of their other works are Toki Tori 2, Awesomenauts, SpeedRunners and the recently released RIVE. Their works have been of a consistently high quality for many years.
Rocket Riot’s Steam release has been implemented with Steam capabilities firmly in mind. The game makes use of the Steam leaderboards, stats and cloud systems. Further, there is a total of 24 achievements for you to unlock. Finally, there is a set of 10 trading cards to collect.
A Potential Bug
I have attempted to write this review two times already. I’m the type of reviewer who likes to take notes as I play. Unfortunately, both times I attempted to write notes my computer slowed down to a halt and I was forced to restart the game. This is something that has never happened before. I have performed every check imaginable on my computer when the game was not open. I have discovered nothing wrong with my computer. Therefore, I can only assume that there is some type of issue caused by the game itself. This is unfortunate as I genuinely have no other real complaints with it. This has not altered the review score.
I am thankful that Rocket Riot has been brought to Steam seven years after its initial release. It’s a near perfect couch game. Whether you only have a short time to play or an extensive play period this is a game that should appeal to action arcade fans. The game is a pleasure to play and at $9.99 has been well priced when considering the amount of content within it.