It’s time to lock and load as Oddly Shaped Pixel’s Super Rocket Shootout, a game published by Plug In Digital, blasts a debut onto the Nintendo Switch with its single-player madness and local multiplayer mayhem. Set within a 2D pixelart presentation, this title blends the genres of platforming and fighting into one brawling package. Boasting a story-driven campaign, interactive and destructible levels and eight playable characters, the game is based around the exploits of twins, Maurice and El Bruto, and their bank-robbing buddies as they set about performing their first-ever, successful heist. However, with each failure, frustrations soon begin to set in and the gang start to squabble and bicker to such an extreme, that they leave nothing but a path of destruction in their wake.
Set over seven levels, as well as an introductory tutorial, Super Rocket Shootout’s campaign sees you controlling a variety of characters through banks, into secret laboratories and even fighting cybernetic zombies. Equipped with a jetpack and armed with a shotgun, you and your buddies fight it out amongst themselves, or against a handful of bad guys, over a series of platformed levels that wouldn’t look out-of-place within the context of a retro Donkey Kong title. The general mechanics of the gameplay sees you jumping, flying and shooting within the arenas of battle, as you seek to become the victorious team, or last man-standing, in a varying series of bouts.
It’s a basic premise to the gameplay, with victory coming in the way of depleting the health bars of your opponents; providing that yours hasn’t been reduced to zero in the meantime. The first character, or team, to win a set number of rounds becomes victorious. As well as being kitted out with a jetpack and shotgun, each player also possesses the ability to enshroud themselves within a shielded sphere. Executing its function right before an enemy’s attack makes its impact upon you, called a perfect block, or whenever you take damage fills a special meter that, once full, allows each character to pull-off a unique special move. These can range from more powerful shotgun blasts to limited invincibility; depending on whichever character you are playing as. Each level is also decorated with wooden crates which, when smashed apart, contain helpful items that include dynamite to grenades and homing missiles to teleport bombs.
By winning each bout, or competition, you receive awards which unlocks a variety of bonuses that open up the rest of the game. Characters, levels, modes and weapons can all be obtained within the campaign’s progression. However, doing so can become a bit of a grind. Not through constant re-treads of previously completed stages, but because the campaign’s story is so uninteresting; and, unfortunately, it is here that the game’s problems begin to arise. Whatever this title has to offer, which to be honest with you, isn’t a lot, it doesn’t do so with any particular gust with its presentation or gameplay values.
Despite the campaign being story driven, its cut-scenes that progress the prose soon become tiresome to follow. Nothing seems coherent here and it almost feels tacked-on and lazy. You do get occasional option choices with a characters interaction or reply to a certain situation, but this just seems merely cosmetic and doesn’t offer any form in which to engage within the game as a player. As a result of this, I often found myself skipping these sections in order to get to the action, however, this also caused more problems to arise.
With a lack of interest in the story element of the gameplay, I also lost any investment within the characters and didn’t really care about them or their antics, which leads to a disjointedness within the main component of the game: the battle elements. With no engagement in the story elements, the battle phases soon became a mish-mash of who was fighting who and the reasons for such altercations. This was further enhanced by the graphical presentation of the game with so much going on on-screen, that the whole thing just ends up looking an amalgamated mess of pixels that all blended in together, making it difficult to distinguish what was actually happening within each of the arenas. I found all of this a particular shame, as the game really does try to provide you with some frantic-paced fun, but it all just ends up looking a mess, which greatly hampers any element of the excitement that the game tries to offer.
If there is one saving grace, then it is the inclusion of the local multiplayer element in which up to four players can battle each other within the unlocked stages from the campaign. Although I did have some fun with this game mode, it still contains the same hampering elements from the single-player experience. Again, with so much happening on-screen within the elements of level design, it was still extremely difficult to make out what was happening, or who was who, within the mass pixelated explosions and events within each battle component.
It all gives the game a feeling of luck rather than an element of skill within its gameplay mechanics. This is mainly due to the presentation of the title, with tiny characters, unbalanced special moves which, when activated, flash a banner across the screen that blocks any view of the action; something that is particularly hampering when a succession of specials are activated within close proximity to each other and the random elements within some of the levels designs such as teleporters and lasers which simply get in the way of anything you are trying to achieve.
Although the game offers several modes of gameplay, from the campaign to the multiplayer to an arcade mode and custom setup, none of it actually offers very much in a way of variation. I can’t deny that Super Rocket Shootout really tries in its execution to be an enjoyable experience. However, with so many smaller issues hampering the gameplay on offer, the whole package just ends up a frustrating mess to play. Its campaign is a rather short experience, with the potential to unlock everything that the game has to offer within an hour of booting it up. Its multiplayer entertains for a while, but with its overriding element of luck, rather than skill, this is a game mode that soon becomes tiresome and frustrating for all those involved. I really wanted to enjoy this game, but overall, I just ended up losing any interest in everything it had to offer; resulting in a super rocket shootout that just ended up firing blanks rather than providing me with an explosive experience.
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.