The goal of Rocket Riot [99¢] from Chillingo and CodeGlue is to fly around an arena on a jetpack destroying enemies with your bazooka. And you can also destroy …well, pretty much everything. You see, the entire level is destructible, so even the walls can be blown apart. Everything can be shot to pieces. But once you’ve blast a little short-cut through a wall, the level is not permanently destroyed, because it slowly regenerates.
Rocket Riot was released in 2009 for Xbox and featured multiplayer modes, but the iOS release focuses solely on a single player campaign. That’s a shame because an arena shooter like this is ideally suited for multiplayer mode, but the developers have no current plans to implement that – unless the Rocket Riot becomes super popular. Fortunately, the single-player campaign mode is an entertaining arena shooter fill of rockets, destruction and heaps of cool power-ups.
The campaign mode includes 48 levels, which are a mixture of four different game types: “Death-match" is a free-for-all arena battle. While “Destroy the object" involves blasting certain items (such as golden boots) within the level while also shooting opponents. In the “Rugby Riot" levels, you grab a football and run around the opponents to shoot the ball over the opposing team’s goal post. And lastly, there’s boss-fights against larger enemies like BlockBeard the legless pirate. Apparently there are 150 characters you can unlock to play, such as pirates or robots. Some of these characters (like a bazooka-carrying taco) are unlocked by gifting it to friends, or via an in-app purchase. The other characters are unlocked in-game. Each character has a jetpack instead of legs, enabling them to fly around the levels.
The controls handle well …most of the time. Occasionally your character does get snagged on the remnants of the destructed environment, but this doesn’t happen enough to be a problem. The left side of the screen is used for moving around the arena, while the right side determines the direction and power of your rocket attacks. The firing can be done using either swipe or joystick options. Tilt controls can be used for movement on the iPhone or iPod, but the tilting option is not presented on the iPad. If you fire your weapon in close proximity to an enemy, you’ll do a punch instead. But mostly, Rocket Riot involves frequent attacks, often in quick succession, so your poor rocket-launching fingers may need an occasional rest.
There’s heaps of temporary power-ups to collect (20). Some are traditional power-up’s, like missiles or extra health. But there’s also more creative ones, like rainbow colored explosions, increasing the size of particle explosions or gaining rockets which bounce around the level endlessly until hitting an enemy. Once you have some decent power-ups you can really destroy the level in a spectacular way, with particles flying everywhere. The red-colored power-ups are actually “power-downs", as they do negative things, such as turn you into a rocket-magnet or replace your bullets with a harmless “bang" flag, so you’re powerless until it times out. This game has a sense of humor.
The 8-bit pixel-art graphics in Rocket Riot are good (especially the blocky explosions), although it’s an odd mix, combining the 3D level designs with your 2D character, who flips over when changing direction. The levels have graphical themes like laboratory, army, computer chips and pirates, to name a few, with matching enemies. For example, you can expect pirates in the pirate levels and robots when you venture inside the computer. The level themes all fit into the overall story, which is told via occasional cut-scenes. It’s a simple story, but does tie the level themes together.
Three rockets are awarded for each level, based on your score, which is managed by Game Center and Crystal. Bonus points are awarded for really destroying the level or being “manly" (ie: not camping-out in the safety of the corners). Kill shot bonuses are given for long distance shots, punching, killing with large rockets or shooting a launched rocket down. And combo points are gained from successive kills. Surprisingly, there’s no difficulty levels to make the enemies smarter or more aggressive, although aiming for three stars will increase the skill requirement.
Like the rest of the game, the high-energy music is also noteworthy in that it contains lyrics and fits in nicely with the general craziness of the non-stop action. The music in the trailer (above) is featured in the game. Overall, Rocket Riot is a blast to play (quite literally), thanks to the range of fun power-ups, destructible levels and best of all, the eye-catching particle explosions and the banana with a rocket launcher!