Rocket Riot for iPhone and iPad: An Explosion of Pixels and Legless, Bazooka-Toting Psychotics

By Bulent Yusuf on at

Insane doesn't even begin to describe it. Rocket Riot is the gaming equivalent of a flaming barrel kicked off a hill into a warehouse filled with laughing gas and fireworks. We're talking total freakin' bedlam.

This side-scrolling arcade shooter began life on Xbox Live, and was a frantic multiplayer to boot. Now the unique blend of pixellated madness has been carefully distilled and bottled for touchscreen platforms; has it lost anything in translation?


How does it play?

The story (what sense we can make of it) is that the legless pirate Blockbeard has escaped from prison, and stolen the legs of all the inhabitants of Blockchestermerseytownsborough. Players are then given jet-pack saucers to regain their mobility, and bazooka guns to track down Blockbeard and bring him to justice. Naturally, carnage ensues.

Shoot your way through 48 themed levels, packed with destructive scenery that explodes in a cartoon riot of pixels and colour. The fact that it's destructive means that it can be used for shortcuts, hiding places, and to generally provide cover from your foes. It also regenerates after being shot, which is kind of freaky and doesn't bear thinking about too closely.

To control you character, you move your finger over the joystick in the bottom left of the screen, and swipe your finger anywhere on the right side of the screen in the direction you want to shoot. The direction and length of the swipe will determine where and how fast you shoot. This latter option can be replaced with another touchscreen joystick, if preferred.

The levels are broken down into three types; "Deathmatch", where you have to defeat all the enemies, "Destroy the Object", with a quota of specific targets, and "Rugby Riot", where you score goals by throwing a rugby ball through the opposing team's goal.

There's about twenty power-ups available, subdivided into four categories, that will mostly enhance your firepower and defensive abilities. Mostly. Some will occasionally sabotage your game, like replacing your ammo with an ineffective "bang" flag, or a magnet that causes all rockets fired to zero in on your position. It keeps you on your toes, at the very least.


Why do we like it?

One thing we definitely don't like about this game is the music. It's basically a robotic voice repeating the phrase "Rocket Riot, Rocket Riot" over and over again, and it's bloody annoying. Thankfully, you can crank it down in the settings.

Despite the crummy music, Rocket Riot is great fun to play. It's got a distinctive visual style, and the arcade action is a great spin on classic arena games like Robotron 2064 and Smash TV. It doesn't have the multiplayer mode of its big-screen counterpart, alas, but we're pretty confident this will be addressed in a future update.

Finally, there's the frankly inspired notion of collecting and choosing from 100 different skins for your character. Initially you start off as a denin-clad, bearded killer a la Snake Plissken in Escape from New York, but you can switch to different designs like a ghost, a banana, and even play as a taco.

That's right, a taco. As we said at the start, insane doesn't even begin to describe it.


Rocket Riot is available now for 69p on the App Store