Developer: Steven Foskett
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

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

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

rocket pirate 1
With so many great games now choosing to use retro visuals, it is easy to forget not all retro games were that spectacular. Rocket Pirate feels like a throwback to those kinds of “classic” games. It’s not bad, but nostalgic or not, it never sails past mediocre.

Rocket Pirate is a nautical-themed horizontal shoot ‘em-up. Players sail their ships through treacherous waters while shooting down enemy vessels and island turrets. To fire the cannons players swipe to the right, left, or front and reloading takes time. While the delay built into this mechanic may be a more accurate portrayal of timing-based naval combat, it bogs down the pace of the traditionally twitchy genre. At least it offers a satisfying difficulty curve. Players can later upgrade their firing speed, as well as replace their pirate ship with an awesomely anachronistic rocket ship, but the simple, randomized yet repetitive enemy layout ultimately tempers the excitement.

Sails last as long as the player can survive, and the quest system creates decent incentives for more play sessions. One of Rocket Pirate’s best visuals touches are the seagulls that explode into a bloody mess when they collide against a ship. Splattering 40 of these birds is one of the game’s most gleefully gory goals. However, that’s really the only impressive aspect of the visual presentation. The game uses a chunky, pixelated art style but it’s not a particularly interesting one. Sprites look more perfunctorily assembled than artfully hand-crafted. The single ocean backdrop never sees any meaningful change. Contrast this with the groovy chiptune soundtrack that simultaneously sounds distinctly retro and distinctly pirate-themed. It’s a great piece of music and it makes the rest of the game’s presentation disappointing by comparison.

Rocket Pirate is a serviceable game that does little wrong but ultimately fails to stand out. It’s like a sober sailor who could use a little more rum.


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