Developer: HandyGames
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics/Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Humans have amazing capabilities, and Rocket Island plays with two of those facets. The propensity to ruin the world, and then the ingenuity to escape the situation. That is, the world is crumbling and natural disasters are on the rise: volcanoes erupt, earthquakes rend, and tidal waves threaten. That is where the people of Rocket Island come in with their plan to escape it all and go to the moon!

As a premise, it’s simple and ridiculous enough in the steampunkish setting provided that it works. How? The map for the island is a bunch of little hexagons. On the right portion of the screen exists a number, showing 0/1, 0/2, and progressively higher, allowing longer strings of swipes across hexagons to upgrade them. The trick is that all the hexagons being swiped need be on the same upgrade level, so if five grass tiles exist, it’s possible to fulfill the 0/5 swipe, but not necessarily the 0/6. Which is where the strategy comes in: setting up not just for the immediate, but the future of the entire population leaving the planet before things go too sour.

Two modes exist, a casual and action. Casual keeps ticking, with the tiles all eventually disappearing, whereas action is time-based, initially giving one minute and allowing for that time to be extended with various power-ups and successfully shooting of rockets (the more in a combo, the better). It all leads to an amusing and quick experience which requires a certain amount of pattern recognition.

However, if that was all there was, the game would be all hunky and dory and one could just look up the best strategies online. Those natural disasters? They impede progress. The volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and various forms of water damage will degrade or destroy tiles, requiring a faster mind to adapt to strategies to the situation at hand.

It’s an amusing game of preparation and adaptation, seemingly commenting wryly on humankind’s own lack of long-sighted planning as regards the weather, and how reaction often seems the note of the day.

All that being said, those modes are about it, so for a deeper experience, this is somewhat lacking. Don’t get me wrong, playing it while on public transit, or in between things is great fun and a fun puzzle challenge, but it could easily overstay its welcome if expecting a more varied experience.

Rocket Island scratches that itch between casual strategy game that is just tap-and-move and far too full of dense information so that entire evenings are lost in the bat of an eyelash. There’s just enough depth and charm to keep one entertained for a dozen minutes here and there, and the same amount of whimsy found in older god-simulation titles.

Posted in: Games, iPad Apps and Games, iPad Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

Tagged with: , , ,