There was a time when couch co-op games dominated the multiplayer market. Multiplayer was all about sitting beside friends and family in a battle for bragging rights. Then, the internet started leaving its mark on the gaming landscape. The competitive fun we once enjoyed face to face with others was replaced by headsets and thousands of random players. Nowadays, indie developers have taken it upon themselves to revive those moments of couch multiplayer fun in their own unique ways. Rocket Fist pits cartoony, ball-shaped robots against each other in a glorious battle of rocket dodgeball, which is sure to bring back the feeling of old era local multiplayer. Add a chaotic single player mode and simplistic controls on top, and Rocket Fist is sure to deliver short bursts of fast paced fun for everyone.
In Rocket Fist, players take control of armless, customizable, ball-shaped robots who pick up and shoot rocket powered fists in intense one-hit kill battles. The camera’s top down perspective provides the player with an entire view of the stage. The game revolves around two main mechanics: dashing and shooting. While dashing, players can hit and stun enemies for a short period of time, creating a window of opportunity to strike. These are a simple, elegant mechanics, that thanks to the game’s intuitive and simple controls, deliver frantically fun and fast paced gameplay. One thing that I would have appreciated is the ability to dash while carrying a fist. Such restriction created scenarios where my robot couldn’t get out of harm's way even if my reflexes where fast enough to predict the attack.
Rocket Fist provides an outstanding level of polish for a game with a single developer. The game offers various graphical options, as well as a built in twitch integration option, which is rarely seen in indie developed games. From the introductory tutorial, the game’s cartoony cell-shaded art style is able to set the wacky and charming tone of the game. Mix up the graphics with an original techno soundtrack and the aforementioned simplistic mechanics, and it culminates in a gripping environment set to draw players into the high octane action of Rocket Fist.
The single player campaign is short and sweet. The uniquely skilled enemies and the various stages mix up the different encounters of every level. From spiders robots that can split into smaller spider robots when hit, to robots who track your every movement and use a shield to block your incoming attacks, enemies are sure to provide a challenge in every stage. If a combined wave of diverse enemies wasn’t enough thrill for you, a final boss is waiting at the end of every section. Final bosses also have their own unique quirks and attack patterns that makes them memorable and add an extra layer of complexity to the combat. While Rocket Fist’s single player campaign is enjoyable, the multiplayer is where the game really shines. Multiplayer pits up to four players against each other for rocket powered supremacy. The game’s simplicity allows any player to understand the game and get into the competitive battle mindset within seconds. There is little more satisfying than hitting your friends with a perfectly aimed rocketed powered fists and seeing their faces as they shout in disbelief. Rocket Fist recognizes such moments and allows players to download them in .gif form so that your opponent is never able to forget their defeat. In multiplayer, death is not the end. If ghost mode is enabled, dead players can shoot electric balls at enemies in order to sabotage them and hope that another player grants them the sweet revenge they desire. The multiplayer also introduces power ups to add to the chaos. However, most of the powerups are generic and confusing to new players, specially when some hinder you rather than aid you.
The simplicity of the game is both a highlight and a detriment. The single player campaign only provides five sectors, with six short levels each. Despite the different enemies, stages, and difficulty settings, the game’s mechanics do not evolve as the game progresses. My initial playthrough on normal difficulty took only twenty minutes to complete. Once players master the game’s simple mechanics, there is not enough content to keep the players coming back. The multiplayer suffers from the same issue. It only includes two modes in which the only difference is the win condition. The main variation comes in the form of generic power ups, number of lives/kills, powerup frequency, and robot aesthetics. As a result, there are only so many matches players can experience before the battles will start to feel samey.
Rocket Fist provides a way to rectify the issue by providing the players with tools to create their own levels. The level creator is incredibly polished, intuitive, and provides a wide variety of assets. Stages can be created by clicking and dragging different assets onto tiles that make up a grid. Tools such as symmetry layouts and auto-fill provide an easy and fast way to create a stage. On the other hand, the ability to assign switches to particular sections of doors, invisibility trigger tiles, and different traps provide the more creative players with tools to create unique and well thought out stages. However, stage building only appeals to certain players, which leaves other players who are just interested in the gameplay action, thirsting for more combat.
Rocket Fist truly captures the fun of local multiplayer games. It understands the importance of accessibility when it comes to inviting friends, gamers and non-gamers alike, for some competitive video game fun. Although it lacks reasons to draw players back in once they had enough of its simple core mechanic, it provides players with memorable, chaotic moments which are not so short lived. If you are looking for a competitive game to play at your next social gathering or want to increase your adrenaline levels with some intense, fast-paced battles, then destroying robots with rocket powered fists is the way to go.