862nd played so far

Genre: Action/Platform
Platform: Nintendo 64
Year of Release: 1999
Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Ubi Soft

My first encounter with Rocket: Robot on Wheels was actually through the video of a tool-assisted speedrun, which showed an action platformer that clearly drew on the Super Mario 64 set up of worlds with multiple missions, but was set in a theme park with a bunch of mechanical gadgets and similar touches. It seemed like a fun place to explore, focused but with enough variety as well.

The game’s price has been holding me back from playing, but we’re at the point now where I feel I can go for it and play it.

Our Thoughts

As happens in so many of these 3D platformers, including the recent Ape Escape and Sly 2, down to the original Super Mario 64, the games are good until you – well – have to platform. There were several tasks that needed to and while I managed to get through most of the bee hive, the narrow platforms became too much to handle. More so, climbing a giant dinosaur inside felt pretty much impossible with the way the camera didn’t behave.

Luckily, plenty of tasks are optional and so I could make up for it by racing cars, collecting various things and building and riding a rollercoaster. Yeah, somehow the game pulls that off by having a rollercoaster you can build yourself like a small Rollercoaster Tycoon, where riding it gets you a ticket, but making it go the right way gets you another. It’s a neat, flexible system that feels like it does a lot for a single feature in a small area. The game has a lot of these smaller touches and individual areas and the variation between them is big, with the different theme park areas really feeling different. I have no idea how normal guests would get around, but it works here.

Added to that, the physics engine works really well. The game was built around that and its modelling feels detailed, to the point where you can rely on a lot of it quite intuitively as you move around. As above, the camera doesn’t help, and I guess there are times where the controls don’t work the way you want because of it, but on the whole movement feels right, as a way to move around it.

Final Thoughts

It’s frustrating how many of these games don’t quite understand 3D platforming doesn’t work that well, and don’t leave you with a big margin of error to deal with them. Even now the camera is a big issue, but it felt like it was spoiling my progression here as I couldn’t get done what I needed. It’s a shame, because the delight in this game is seeing the new areas and the weird and wonderful things you can do in each level. I just wish I could get there a bit easier.