People love to have fun. Crazy, isn’t it? Despite there being a massive market for games that are art, games that make you think and games that tell a story, sometimes you just want a game that’s engagingly, stupidly fun. There’s a really good reason that KING software made a billion dollars on Candy Crush (besides the whole Skinner Box/digital drug thing). As much as more serious game players may turn up their noses at the concept, there is a huge demand for entertainment in any form, and finding something that scratches the itch without also destroying your livelihood is important (once again, Candy Crush).
Everyone. I have important news to tell you. Rocket Fist is so goddamn fun.
Rocket Fist is the story of a robot, fresh off a robot assembly line, who is suddenly in the middle of a computer malfunction that may or may not be a vicious virus usurpation. The friendly factory AI has just enough time to confirm the controls before you’re left alone to deal with all the robots that have gone insane aboard the ship. There are five sectors of the ship, each with multiple levels and, more importantly, multiple bots of varying intelligence and malice. They want to crush you, and there’s not a damn thing you can do to stop it. Well, actually, there is one big thing: rocket fist. Scattered about each level are reusable punches that can blow the rogue mechanoids into oblivion. They can use them against you, as well, so you gotta be fast and accurate if you want to stay alive.
Right away, Rocket Fist almost lost me due to one critical error in control setup: no side JoyCon mode. For whatever reason, Bitten Toast decided that, unless the controllers are not apart from the Switch, it’s not going to happen. Why? I honestly cannot imagine why this decision was made, as it’s one of the best configurations for portable play. Given that Rocket Fist came out on Steam over a year ago, maybe the developers wanted to focus on making sure this game was all about the multiplayer aspect and, as such, didn’t want to allow players to play in a solitary state. Seriously bad move, as the solo mode, while not so long, is worth playing and enjoying on the go. Still, given the debacle from a few weeks back concerning the lack of level editor, I see patches, DLC and logistical updates coming for Rocket Fist in the near future. This could easily be a deal breaker for some players, however, so I hope the devs are listening to day one feedback.
With that ugliness out of the way, let’s get to the parts that I enjoyed about Rocket Fist, which is literally everything else. The controls are pretty tight and minimal, with just moving around and the dash and shoot button being the same. Dashing is a great way to cover ground quickly, and it’s also essential to make sure enemy bots drop their rocket fists and get stunned for a brief but crucial moment. Figuring out the right timing on a dash can turn your certain death into a victorious cross check that would make any hockey fan proud. The shooting of the rocket fist is a different beast altogether, but I mean that in a great way. The shot fists will bounce off walls and obstacles, meaning that geometry wizzes and billiard veterans are already giggling with advantage. Once shot, the fist has a limited time where it’s viable to make damaging contact and destroy the other bot. It will keep moving once the viability runs out, but then the NPCs or other players can simply grab them and get ready to shoot them back. However, you MUST know that rocket fists will interact with each other. So if you see a bot going for a wayward fist, you can shoot it, hit it with your fist and activate it to start flying in the direction it’s been hit. Basically, this game can be MAYHEM.
The AI robots in the adventure mode come in all shapes and sizes of tenacity. Some are simply bumbling triangles that understand they need to shoot you but can’t exactly figure out how. Some are vicious spiders that split into two spiders when shot, because we all need to be reminded of our nightmares in the middle of a video game. At the end of each sector is a boss bot, which starts with “oh that’s a slightly larger robot” to “Robot Satan Made Real.” The game pulls zero punches (heh) in terms of ramping up the difficulty significantly with each sector, and the hard mode is, as the poets call it, “balls hard.” You end up running around like your motherboard is on fire, dodging and hiding and just trying to find your way to the nearest unoccupied fist. Oh, and you can put on a jaunty costume if that makes your death easier to accept. I recommend the pool look as it constantly makes your bot look like it’s in wide-eyed terror, which matches what I was doing from sector three onward.
The local multiplayer mode is another simple yet delightful experience of destruction and probably pissing off your friends. You only have two choices, deathmatch or survival, with either case being “whoever shoots best, wins.” Rocket Fist doesn’t insist on having four players, which is good, but you really won’t enjoy it as much without at least three people in the arena. It’s simply because, with two players, it’s either going to go one-sided and fast or really drawn out with two strong players being adept at dodging and angling for hours. But that’s why power ups exist, don’t they? By increasing the game speed, for example, you completely lose your normal composure of how to play and time things and just end up streaking across the level, praying for death or victory. It’s one of the few multiplayer experiences so far where I can’t wait to introduce new people to it and then beat them mercilessly.
Rocket Fist is finally the indie port to the Switch that I’ve been praying for. There’s always been good titles coming, sure, but this is one of the few multiplayer indies where I say “That’s it, they get it.” Who couldn’t imagine breaking off four JoyCons to beat up your friends somewhere out in the desert or on top of the Empire State Building or whatever? The single player mode will keep you entertained at all four difficulty levels, and the customization of your bot makes it lively and individualized. Yes, there are some shortcomings, especially when you compare what the Steam version currently has (level editor, beta online multiplayer), but this is looking pretty damn good at launch. It’s one of those rare moments when I highly suggest getting the game now with promises for the future because, seriously, it’s in great shape as it stands now. Rocket Fist will definitely keep you and your loved ones punching each other long into the night, and without the pesky cops getting called.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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