Take off on a tiny thrilling space adventure with The Last Rocket for iOS, a touchscreen puzzle game that infuses retro visuals with a delightful mixture of old-school gameplay... and the spikes that bring the instant death of a Mega Man or VVVVVV.
As iPhone/iPad games go, The Last Rocket plays like one that might also feel right at home on a Nintendo DS or Game Boy Advance.
In developer Shaun Inman's The Last Rocket, you play as the last remaining, the final manufactured weapon in an intergalactic war. War is over, we learn as the last rocket is constructed, with blinking beady eyes and a stubby frame. The spacecraft you're in is hurtling towards its inevitable destruction. So... you gotta get out of there.
Doing so is no easy task. You're a rocket and can really only move forward in one direction at a time. Sure, your adorable little ship can do a side-to-side shuffle with his "feet," but in The Last Rocket you'll need to rely on jets of air and playful gravity to steer your craft.
The Last Rocket is mostly puzzle mechanics doled out over the course of 64 stages, mechanics you'll need to learn, adapt to and employ the solve the game's tiny but cleverly designed rooms. Later, things get a little trickier, as quick reflexes and touchscreen-tapping patience are required.
Control-wise, the mechanics are rather simple. Your little rocket can attach to walls, ceilings and floating platforms. Tap to launch from a wall, tap again to reverse your rocket's trajectory. Tap and hold to duck under spikes, swipe to move your ship with the assistance of vents that shoot streams of air. This control knowledge is doled out over the course of dozens of stages, layering new mechanics on top of earlier ones.
It's the strict timing and pixel-precise steering of your little ship that makes The Last Rocket demanding, fascinating and occasionally a little frustrating near the game's end.
It does end rather quickly, by the way. The Last Rocket's 64 stages can be burned through in a couple hours. It's scoring and replay structure is a tad different from the Angry Birds of the iPhone world. To unlock its handful of achievements, players will need to challenge themselves to multiple, very demanding playthroughs that demand perfection and the gathering of its many collectible gears.
Graphically, the game radiates charm, its adorable little rocket hero well animated among a chippy, NES-era visual world. It's almost worth it for the art style alone, but fortunately there's a smart, well-designed puzzle game coated in that sharp aesthetic.
The Last Rocket, for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, is currently $2.99 USD on iTunes.
The Last Rocket [iTunes]