Version Reviewed: 1.01
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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Making a console quality game for mobile isn’t as easy as just porting over some PS2 game with snazzier graphics and bolted-on touch controls. It means making a game with the same level of care given to the gameplay and presentation as a big, AAA release that still makes sense being on mobile. Need an example of what that means? Just check out the fantastic Rocket ROBO.
When his elderly creator needs more stars to power their galactic lighthouse, Rocket Robo journeys out into the storybook cosmos to find some. It’s the perfect set-up for Rocket ROBO's delightfully whimsical acoustic guitar sci-fi sensibilities. While later stages take place in more traditional interstellar environments, as well as an upcoming candy planet, players will start their 2.5D platforming adventure in a world made up entirely of arts and crafts. The aptly named Material World features woven patchwork walls, bouncy sponge platforms, and button pig enemies all made gloriously textured and tangible by the impressive 3D engine. While it’s maybe not quite on the same level as the similarly stylish Kirby’s Epic Yarn or LittleBigPlanet, creator Aaron McElligott’s background as a console gaming environmental artist shines through in the splendid visuals.
Beyond just looking pretty though, the 50 or so levels have great depth and lighting that contribute to some of the game’s coolest mechanics. Players help Robo collect stars by tapping the screen to activate his thrusters and tilting their device to carefully steer him through the physics-based worlds. However, with a fluid swiping motion Robo can travel between the background and foreground to discover hidden pathways and treasures. Also, later levels are pitch black; encouraging players to nudge light bulbs around for vision.
When it comes to Rocket ROBO's inventive ideas though, those are just two of many. Other elements include constantly rising lava, level-rotating switches, teleportation pods, mines to detonate, size-changing power-ups, and gravity-shifting reminiscent of the modern classic Super Mario Galaxy. Heck, in one level players earn a plethora of stars just by scoring a soccer goal.
Rocket ROBO soars and succeeds because it achieves basically everything it sets out to do and then some. The art style is superb, the controls are smooth and intuitive, and the gameplay is varied and imaginative. Lovers of quality mobile games definitely shouldn’t let this get lost in space.