Rocketcat Games’ titles have been a unique presence on the App Store. While many pixel art games exist on iOS, theirs have had a special look and feel to them that just hasn’t been matched by others.
Also, gnomes. Lots of gnomes.
I spoke to Kepa Auwae, who is in charge of “Planning, Business Stuff, Design” and is the public voice for Rocketcat Games, and was previously a registered nurse before Hook Champ allowed the him and the studio to make games full-time. We discuss why their titles remain so unique, the future of the studio, and just why we don’t hear from the other two members of Rocketcat.
148Apps: There are a lot of pixel art games on the App Store, but Rocketcat Games seems to have a voice and style all its own with games that have attracted a loyal fan base. What do you attribute this to?
Kepa Auwae: Our games have a pretty clear voice, probably because there’s so few people working on them and everyone contributes. I think it’s also easier to build a fan base when you’re working on a small niche that others don’t really touch. There’s not a lot of people making our sorts of games on iOS, with our level of difficulty and scope.
148Apps: Your grappling hook games (Hook Champ, Super QuickHook, and Hook Worlds) are actually only a few titles using the grappling hook mechanic at all on mobile. Is this due to the challenge of using the mechanic well?
Auwae: It turns out that level design was really difficult for our grappling hook games. The placement of every bit of ceiling was important to the flow of the level. It’s kind of like designing a level for a platformer, except imagine you control each leg and you’ll trip if you don’t step on the floor exactly right.
As for how few games use the genre, I think it’s mostly just how genres work for videogames. You need a huge hit to really provide incentive to cloners on a big scale.
148Apps: Reminisce back to the time of Hook Champ and its cosmetic IAP. How did the response and reaction from people then compare to the reaction you got for the IAP in Punch Quest? How have your fans responded to your evolution in titles you’ve released?
Auwae: We get as many complaints about Hook series IAP, still, as we get complaints about Punch Quest IAP. And because the Hook games are out longer, we have a bigger amount of complaints total. It’s bizarre, since the Hook IAP was almost entirely cosmetic, hats and such.
That said, we didn’t get many complaints about the Punch Quest IAP at all. I think fans knew that we were trying to do things right. Trying to anyway, I’m not happy with how the design in Punch Quest turned out. In the future, I’d like to completely avoid the concept of people paying to skip in-game progression.
148Apps: Your games have largely been core-gamer-friendly genres; do you see your future mobile titles going down this path, if you even have a future on mobile at all?
Auwae: It would make a lot more sense to make casual-friendly games, as the “core-gamer” type of games we make take big amounts of time to work on. This next one we’re releasing, our randomly-generated action-adventure game, is getting to the 2-year mark. These are the types of games we’re interested in making, even if it doesn’t add up from a business standpoint.
Our plan for the future is to release on multiple platforms, especially PC. The big differences are that there’s a much bigger audience for such games there, and you can feasibly charge more than $5 per copy. Definitely not leaving mobile, any game that makes sense on iOS will be developed simultaneously for it. As an example, I’m starting work on a project with the Punch Quest developer (Paul “Madgarden” Pridham), and that’s being worked on for both PC and iOS so we can make sure the controls and graphics are perfect on both platforms.
148Apps: You, Kepa Auwae, have served largely as the public voice of the company. Who are the other members of Rocketcat, and why do you keep their voices silent? Do they even exist?! Or are they actually gnomes?
Auwae: There’s Jeremy Orlando (Programmer) and Brandon Rhodes (Artist). All three of us are incredibly shy. We had to pick which one of us would have to interact with everyone. I’m not better equipped to talk to anyone, it’s just that I lost when we drew straws. After a few years I’m now ok at the whole “public voice” thing. Also they’re gnomes and I’m really ashamed of that.
Thanks to Kepa Auwae for his time; it’s truly appreciated.
I love grappling hooks in games. There’s nothing more pleasant than swinging around to get from place to place, because running is for chumps. Who wouldn’t want to swing around to get places? If Tarzan ran around everywhere, would he be as cool? No, he would not be. As such, I have collected 4 of the best games on iOS that feature this mechanic prominently in different ways.
Super QuickHook: Rocketcat Games has made three absolutely brilliant grappling hook games in its time on iOS, and they’re all brilliant, but this one gets the nod for featuring a great selection of endless swinging modes, where learning the optimal paths and coin locations is handy. This is along with its fixed levels, where trying to get fast times and collecting all the secret items becomes a challenge. But Hook Champ and Hook Worlds are both well worth a download.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-06-17 :: Category: Games
Super Knights: Initially released under the far cooler Knights of the Round Cable title, this game features 360 degree swinging in an open arena. Collecting all the gems in their increasingly-complex patterns becomes the goal, and it becomes a challenge to try and do this while navigating all the hazards. The game also features plenty of upgrades and things to unlock while playing the game, enabling long-time players to get higher and higher scores. I have lost countless hours to this one.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-12 :: Category: Games
Gravity Hook: Here’s one that’s less about swinging horizontally with some vertical action, and more about grappling upward. The goal is to latch on to floating orbs, using them to launch upward without falling off the screen. Some of the orbs function as mines that activate when latched on to, or even if just contacted, and some orbs fall when latched on to! The game has a definite learning curve, one that takes a while to get down, but when it’s mastered, it’s absurdly satisfying.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-07-29 :: Category: Games
Rope ‘n Fly 3: From Dusk Till Dawn: Who doesn’t want ot swing around a city like Spider-Man, latching from rooftop to rooftop, flying through the air without a care? Well, perhaps there’s a care whenever one’s face hits the ground, but it’s a pretty sweet ride up until that point. That’s this game in a nutshell, a long-time iOS franchise that has multiple ways to grapple throughout the city. It’s not a looker but it’s a ton of fun.
Kepa Auwae of Rocketcat Games and Paul Pridham of Madgarden discuss their collaborative effort, Punch Quest. This includes an over-the-top-yet-accurate description of a normal game session, the simple story of how the two developers started working together, and why gnomes keep appearing in Rocketcat Games. Also, other important discussions on whether hot peppers are meat, what rhyming followup should come next, and everyone speculates on the hotly-anticipated-and-maybe-not-real Big Runner 2 from Matt Rix.
Rocketcat Games and Madgarden has released the first trailer for its upcoming game, Punch Quest. For those who haven’t followed the game’s development on Rocketcat Games’ Twitter and Facebook pages, Punch Quest is a hybrid of a Final Fight or Double Dragon beat ’em up with an endless runner game. It will also have plenty of action-packed craziness, shown off in the first preview trailer for the game. It’s hard not to be interested in a game that includes punching giant dinosaur eggs, which then pop out the protagonist riding a dinosaur that shoots lasers. Oh, and Gnomey from previous Rocketcat games is also playable.
Host Carter Dotson and this week’s guest, Mage Gauntlet developer Kepa Auwae of Rocketcat Games, discuss Mage Gauntlet. They discuss the current state of the game, along with the trials and tribulations it took to get to its current point, along with plans for future installments, including an upcoming rougelike free-to-play installment. As well, they discuss various issues in the iOS world, including price points, getting games noticed, free-to-play ethics, and more.
Hook Champ, Super QuickHook, Hook Worlds. Three games with more than a few similarities. Each one is retro-themed, predominantly features swinging on hooks, contains an absolutely fabulous selection of hats and are loads of fun. And they’re all made by the one and only Rocketcat Games.
It appears that after four games, the developer has decided to try something new. Mage Gauntlet is an action RPG inspired by a number of classic 90′s games in the same genre. Gone are the hooks and rope-swinging antics in favor of a whole lot of “hitting jerks with a sword,” and “blowing them up with spells.” It’s more than a bit of a departure, but I’m fairly certain Rocketcat is up to the task.
Players can enjoy the “festivities” over the course of a 42-level (and humorous) story mode, and then again in another 42-level Master Mode with new secrets and greater enemy numbers. Over the course of these levels, they can find and equip different gear (all of which can effect stats and abilities) and even utilize bonus-granting pets. Oh, and lots and lots of hats. 110 to be exact.
Mage Gauntlet will be hitting the App Store this Thursday, the 20th, at a discounted price of $1.99 (it’ll go up to $2.99 later). Early adopters will get the sale price as well as 8 hats from previous Rocketcat titles and a special Rocketcat pet, so long as they nab it by Sunday night.
Carter and guest Kepa Auwae of Rocketcat Games discuss Hook Worlds, and how the whole Hook series circularly evolved into this game design. As well, Kepa talks about how the cluster of holiday releases affected the game and their plans for future releases, and he talks about some of Rocketcat Games’ upcoming projects.
Rocketcat Games have made a name for themselves in the iOS gaming scene with the popular and critically-acclaimed grappling hook games Hook Champ and Super QuickHook. While they are working on a 99 cent “top-down shooter/RPG” project,” their next game returns to the grappling hook concept with Hook Worlds. Unlike Hook Champ and Super QuickHook’s adventure levels, Hook Worlds is focused on endless levels, like the Avalanche mode from Super QuickHook. This means that you’ll be swinging forward through levels, outrunning hazards chasing you, trying to keep from falling to your doom, while trying to advance as far as possible and collecting coins along the way.
The hook of Hook Worlds is that there will be multiple endless worlds to play through, each featuring a familiar character in the ‘Hook’ series universe, with their own gameplay twists. The initial launch version will have three worlds to play. The first is Curse of the Watcher, which has you playing as Theodore “Gramps” Hooker from Hook Champ and Super QuickHook, trying to outrun one of the demons (first seen in Hook Champ) and avoid being blasted by the demon’s gigantic death laser. To help him, Gramps has the recharging rocket boots that will be familiar to veterans of the series. The other two modes will not feature the rocket boots, but have twists new to the series.
Hook Gunner has you playing as Zelle, who has a forward shooting gun available to take out obstructions and enemies in her way. The gun only features 6 shots, but recharges over a short amount of time. Finally, Cybergnome 202X has you playing as a gnome in a futuristic city, with the ability to switch gravity in midair, similar to Gravity Runner. This means that you can die by falling upwards. There appear to be icons that you can pick up to reverse your gravity in mid-air as well, which could help or be a hindrance towards further advancement. However, these 2 modes also appear to be experimenting with and expanding on the already familiar Hook series gameplay. Interestingly, while unconfirmed, it appears only Hook Gunner mode has coins in it, which could alleviate some of the concerns by Super QuickHook players that the Avalanche and Eruption modes were more focused on coin collection than on survival.
A trailer has been released showing off each mode briefly, with a promised release date of early November. Similar to Super QuickHook, early adopters will get “exclusive bonus content.” The game will launch at 99 cents, and the developers have mentioned that additional worlds, and of course new hats for the characters, could be added post-release, as has been done with each of the previous Hook games in the series. Check out the recently released trailer below, and check out Rocketcat Games’ Twitter account for new updates, and their blog for concept art and insight into the game’s development.
A new expansion pack is now available for The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth. The Desolations of Smaug is available for free and features new campaign maps and bosses for players to strategize against, along with new armor and weapons for them to collect and equip.