Thu. Jun 20th, 2024

[Review] Rocket Wars – Nintendo Switch

By John Bush Dec4,2019

Rocket Wars
Nintendo Switch

Developed By: Rooftop Panda
Published By: Rooftop Panda
Category: Action, Arcade, Multiplayer
Release Date: 11.14.19

Is it multiplayer arena arcade shooter time again already? It must be, because I’ve got Rocket Wars for the Nintendo Switch on the docket, and it’s arcade shootering the crap out of my eyeballs. It’s a little bit Asteroids mixed with just a smidge of Geometry Wars, and it all adds up to a fun time for everyone. Except maybe the losers, which is up to three quarters of the people playing, but as long as they’re good sports they’ll still have fun… I lost all the time and I still liked it, anyway. Enough preamble rambling, it’s review time.

Rocket Wars

One stick, Four Buttons

Rocket Wars’ control scheme is fairly simple; you only need the left stick and four buttons. The left stick controls your direction for both moving and aiming, while the ZL button activates your thruster. You have three other buttons to fire your regular weapon, your special weapon, and activate your pulse. You can only use a special weapon if you’ve picked up a power-up, which includes weapons like a shotgun blast, lasers, rockets, mines, and a giant buzz saw. The pulse can both block incoming enemy fire and act as a melee attack if you collide with an enemy ship while it is active.

Rocket Wars

Five Times The Fun

There are five game modes to enjoy, which can be played either as a free-for-all or in teams. Deathmatch is the most straightforward; the first player to ten kills wins. Survivor sees each player beginning the game with five lives, and the last man standing wins. Free Play is the simplest match type; it has no goals, you just play for as long as you’d like. It doesn’t provide any experience, though, but we’ll get back to that later. Nuke King is a little more complex than the first three types; the first player to make a kill becomes the Nuke King, and after that whoever kills the King becomes the King. Points are awarded for kills and for surviving as the King, and the player with the most points at the end is the winner. Finally, Space Ball is a little bit like Pong mixed with Asteroids; each player has a goal area, and balls spawn randomly. The object of the game is to destroy the other player’s goal areas with the ball; the player with any part of their goal still standing at the end is the winner.

Rocket Wars

Unlock Rockets For War

At the end of the round for every game type except Free Play, you are awarded a score for things like your number of kills, the number of power-ups you collected, and special points for completing each game type’s special objectives. Oh, and you also get a big bonus for winning, too. Accumulating these points will level up your profile, which does things like unlock new ships to use or new skins for said ships. The new ships have advantages and disadvantages that will suit different playstyles, and it was pretty fun to try the new rockets out to figure out how I performed best when playing the game.

Rocket Wars

But Is It Any Fun?

The action is fast, furious, and very satisfying, especially if you have a full group of four players competing against each other. You can play with bots, if you like, but I always felt like I was at a disadvantage against bots when the action got heavy. The number of bullets, explosions, and flashing lights and colors sometimes makes it hard to see what’s happening on the screen. That doesn’t really affect an AI as much as it does the human eye, so I much preferred playing against humans for that reason. Additionally, the momentum-based controls are fairly imprecise, which again adds to the fun when you’re playing humans, but against the AI I always felt like they were just a little too good at managing their momentum. Or maybe I just suck, who knows. Still, I had a lot of fun playing this game whether against bots or humans, and that’s what really counts – but I have a definite preference for human opponents.

Graphics and Soundtrack

The graphics are very simple, but nonetheless slick and attractive. Everything in the game is made of simple, colorful shapes against a black background, which makes the action really pop when it gets going. Accompanying the game is a blistering techno soundtrack that amps up the energy level in the room every time it starts pumping. The controls may be a tad imprecise, but the art direction is as intensely focused as it can be.

Rocket Wars

Winning the War

Rocket Wars may not be a perfect game, but it’s a really good time especially if you’re playing with friends. The imprecise controls can be a detriment to solo play, but they work as a good equalizer against other human opponents, regardless of skill level. The game is pretty simple-looking, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t look great and I loved the electronic soundtrack. As a single-player experience it’s fun enough but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it, but if you’re looking for a cool new party game, I can’t recommend Rocket Wars enough.


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*A game code was provided for review purposes.

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