Now now, before you immediately say “Oh great, ANOTHER dual stick shooter on Xbox Live Arcade”, hear me out. Rocket Riot puts robots, pirates, zombies and ninjas in the same game, lets them all fly around with jet packs, and gives them all rocket launchers to blow stuff up with. Review over.
Still not convinced? Ok, let me explain a bit. The premise behind Rocket Riot is about as silly as its pseudo retro art style. A bad pirate named Blockbeard has escaped and stolen everyone’s legs. Scientists have invented a jet pack that attaches to your butt, so everyone is now jet pack enabled (not disabled, got it?). Your job is to chase after Blockbeard through 80 levels of action.
Mechanically, Rocket Riot resembles any number of dual stick shooters that grace Xbox Live Arcade with one important addition: Gravity. You control your little pixelated fellow with the left stick. If you’re up in the air and stop moving that left stick, you’ll fall downward. On the rocket side of things, the right stick will shoot them, but again with a bit of a twist on that mechanic. All the rockets are effected by thrust and gravity, the longer you hold in the direction you want to shoot, the harder and faster the rocket will fly out. Sure, you can spam a bunch of rockets out of your launcher, but they’ll dribble out and fall to the floor likely missing their intended target. This ballistic trajectory makes it much more difficult, and entertaining, to hit your targets.
While the rockets certainly blow apart your foes, they will also destroy the environment around you in an explosion of particle cubes. Doing this can create short cuts through levels, escape routes, and reveal much coveted power-ups (or much despised power-downs) for your flier. It’s easy to rip apart the pixels, but give them a short amount of time and they’ll begin to rebuild themselves a few blocks at a time. The power-ups range from homing and triple rockets to giant-sized rockets, and if you get them you’re sitting pretty for a limited time. The power-downs are more annoying… avoid the red pickups at all costs… one of them will even replace your rocket with a “BANG” flag, leaving you completely helpless (for a limited time).
Artistically, Rocket Riot is full of charm and character. While played on a 2D plane, everything is certainly a 3D model and the perspective shifts here and there to show that off. The entire environment and cast of characters are built from 3D cube shaped pixels which, as previously mentioned, fly around in a particle storm when being asploded. The cast of characters all have an early SNES Final Fantasy look to them and consist of just about every archetype you’d want in your retro styled title, each unlocked after you blow them to bits. Zombies, Army Men, Ninjas, Robots, Pirates, Normal Dudes, and more all make appearances.
My biggest issue with Rocket Riot comes down to it’s campaign mode. Sure it has 80 levels of blasting dudes, but it only has about 5 different modes for each of the maps with a few additional gimmick maps thrown in. You’ll be doing basically the same things over and over in different themed levels, just to unlock all of the characters. By the time I hit the half way mark, it was wearing quite thin and the whimsy has lost a lot of its charm.
The mode that’ll keep you sticking around is the Multiplayer which has a bunch of different modes to play in. Normal death match, Rugby Riot, Golden Guy, all of which are entertaining and frantic in a Smash Brothers sort of way. Playing against real people is certainly a different and better challenge than against mindless drones of single player. Everyone has a regenerating health meter which works just how it sounds (this meter is also present in campaign mode) so you’ll need to get a few quick hits on someone to take them down.
The physics introduced make Rocket Riot feel just different enough to keep the dual-stick shooter game type fresh and the art style is something that needs to be checked out. Codeglue has a nice hit on their hands. Rocket Riot is, in fact, a riot.
Score: 4 out of 5
Great retro art style, complete with cube particles everywhere
Huge roster of unlockable characters
Who doesn’t like Jet Packs?
If you go headstrong into the Campaign, you’re likely to get burnt out by the end
Levels in Campaign need more variety
Needing only 4 more kills (out of 70), spacing out, and dying.