I’ve been following Halfbrick’s progress as a developer for some time, chiefly for the fact that I like to support Brisbane devs. Having been lucky enough to do some focus testing on their upcoming XBLA title, Raskulls, I was keen to see what titles they were able to pump out on the side.
Enter: Rocket Racing for the PlayStation Minis collection. The introduction of these pint-sized productions has been something of a revelation for PS3 and PSP owners, as they are often the perfect games to play on the run.
Rocket Racing seeks to punch players in the face with a fistful of fast-paced racing, while at the same time, appeal to our obvious lust for all things retro. But does it succeed?
While Rocket Racing by no means looks fantastic on a giant HD television – let’s not forget that its primary market will be PSP owners – you immediately get a sense that this is not your standard, boring racer.
Retro fans will rejoice at the sheer simplicity of the gameplay. There’s no need for control mapping or in-depth introductions; instead, Rocket Racing throws you straight into the action. With six unique tiers, filled with a dozen or more challenges in each, it is your duty to slowly work your way up to be the best racer in the world your house.
Simply press a button on the controller and you’re away. It may take a few minutes to get the hang of drifting your ship, but the opening levels give you all the information you’ll need for the remainder of the game. Crashing bad. Turbo drifting good.
The feature that will most likely divide gamers is the difficulty. With no ability to alter the sensitivity of your ship, or even change the level of difficulty for each race, gamers are consigned to either throwing their controller at the wall in a fit of nerd rage, or mashing the select button whenever you make a tiny mistake. While the first few tiers are easy enough – so much so that you’ll rarely have to repeat a level – you’ll soon discover that Halfbrick have turned up the heat from “challenging” to “you are never going to finish to mother-effing game, biatch!”
This may be an enjoyable experience for those who take pleasure from being repeatedly punched in the nuts, but for the rest of us, it’s just a sure-fire way to see our consoles turned off. The level of difficulty isn’t the problem, but rather the frustration. There’s no enjoyment gleaned from repeating the same challenge more than a dozen times, and even when you do finish a mission, you’ll only be bombarded with more complicated tasks to achieve. The problem is that there is just no prize at the end worthy of such aggravation.
If multiplayer had been attended to in a better way, or even some achievements thrown in for PS3 owners, then forcing your deadened thumbs to complete each mission would have been more enticing. As it stands, Halfbrick have only implemented an archaic “I’ll play first, then you” multiplayer system. It’s understandable that online play is not an option, but no mutli-controller support? For a racing game? Come on.
While there are glaring problems with it, Rocket Racing is certainly not a bad little title – especially for gamers on the go. The PS3 obviously isn’t the best system to play it on, but PSP owners should find a lot to like in its ability to entertain in short bursts. The look of the game is fantastic, the music – while not up to Wipeout standards – is full of techno win, and it will continue to test your mental fortitude as well as your patience.
Skill drops off the list of requirements early on in Rocket Racing, and it’s a shame that the developers seemed to substitute challenging tests with ridiculously repetitive tasks. However, considering the cheap price, Rocket Racing is a fun little title to play on the go. And if nothing else, it will drive you to the edge of madness in an attempt to complete it.
Whether that’s your cup of tea or not, I’ll let you decide.
Gamer Limit gives Rocket Racing 6.5 /10