Super Rocket Shootout PC Review

With little engaging about it, Super Rocket Shootout is just another retro-inspired title joining an already overcrowded room.

By Woozie, Posted 17 Jul 2017

Promising frantic brawls in closed arenas, Super Rocket Shootout joins a plethora of pixel art titles on Steam. A nifty tutorial gets you going right away, teaching everything there’s to be taught. The shotgun is your main weapon, regardless of the chosen character. Aside from blasting foes, from a distance or up close, you can also block attacks and throw various consumable items (rockets, boomerangs, grenades and so on) which are obtained from crates that randomly spawn around the map. Timing your blocks properly grants super bars. These can be used to empower regular attacks, counter hits or fuel your super ability. Whether it’s summoning a handful of zombies and bats to munch on an enemy’s face, becoming invulnerable or whipping out a flamethrower, they go well with the character’s theme. As far as efficiency goes, some end up being more useful than others. Novelty, however, they do not retain that well.

Super Rocket Shootout, PC, Review, Screenshot

Characters can use their pixelated legs and a jetpack to move around. While controlling the jetpack is simple enough, herein lies one gripe I have with the combat system. While relying on precision, both in actually dealing damage to your enemy and filling those super bars, it’s fairly difficult to reliably hit opponents. More often than not, you’ll just find yourself flying around, attempting to bring your character on the same level as an enemy and hope that you’ll pull the trigger, or use an ability at just the right time. Controlling certain ultimates or consumables (like homing rockets) is also extremely tricky. For Maurice’s ultimate, you have three sniper shots that basically one shot enemies. Aiming them properly is very difficult, unless enemies are in close proximity, as you have to control both the character and a fairly large scope that appears on the screen. As for homing rockets, I gave up trying to figure them out after repeated attempts and just used them as regular projectiles with a horizontal trajectory.

The lack of a lock-on mechanic or even a reticle of some kind can up the challenge on hitting enemies and I can definitely see Super Rocket Shootout’s potential at getting people screaming at each other when doing local co-op. However, despite the minute-long matches (where unless one side gets eliminated, the side with the higher amount of health wins), I still found myself getting tired of it fairly quickly, at least when battling the AI. As I said, the novelty of the ultimates fades away relatively quickly. The shotgun being the sole weapon also becomes bland much too fast. While the levels do have certain things to spice up matches, like a sequence where all those outside a train get instakilled, destructible platforms or streams of air that blow upwards, the effect they have on the gameplay is largely diminished by the freedom of movement and the difficulty attached to landing shots. The game’s presentation isn’t particularly outstanding either. Pixel art titles are very frequent nowadays. While the game does differentiate between its characters by giving them different victory poses, models and colors, none of them really stay with you after you’ve quit the game. The silly, nonsensical story fails to give the characters much personality while offering a completely forgettable narrative.

Super Rocket Shootout, PC, Review, Screenshot

Furthermore, when 4 players are in the same match, figuring out which pile of pixels is your own gives you a glimpse at how a labor of Hercules must have felt. This leads to simply relying on randomly mashing the attack button and hoping you deal some damage, which is far from satisfying. I can understand when a game is centered around mindless mayhem and I’ll eagerly play such titles, but Super Rocket Shootout mixes this at-times-frantic-but-at-times-slow gameplay with a need for precision and the result isn’t particularly engaging. To that, I’ll add the nitpick of there being console button prompts, despite the game supporting both keyboard and controller. The latter is a bit better to use due to the added mobility the analog stick offers, but the keyboard works well enough on its own. Moving onto stranger territory, Super Rocket Shootout does an odd thing which I wouldn’t have discovered had I not been in the process of brewing coffee while booting it up. Akin to many older titles, it has a demo mode that kicks in provided you allow it to linger on the start screen for a while. A story level plays out, having the game freezing when the cutscene following it ends. Upon restarting, it replaces your Story Mode progress with the mission that follows the one in the demo mode. I wouldn’t have anything against this, if it didn’t mean that you run the risk of skipping a mission (and thus not obtaining the stage, character and consumable attached to it) without any means of going back, aside from trying your luck with a string of demo mode presentations or starting the story mode all over again. Had I already finished the story mode, I wouldn’t have complained a lot. But considering how it’s the only way of unlocking characters, maps and consumables, on top of having AI that seems to be much tougher than that in the Arcade Mode, you can see why I wasn’t thrilled when the game skipped over a mission I hadn’t completed yet.

Aside from story mode, Super Rocket Shootout also comes with an arcade mode, where you’re put through a 1v1 gauntlet against an AI that isn’t as juiced up as some encounters in the story mode are. Here you can actually try out every unlocked character and get a feel for how they play (although, even with the different stats and ultimates, they feel a little too similar). The gist of the mode is that you battle a random sequence of AI opponents in random levels. A pretty straightforward approach, similar to Mortal Kombat’s challenge towers. Then, there’s Shootout, where I feel most of the game’s lifeblood, if any, will be found. This is the local co-op mode which allows a certain amount of customization. You can select the required number of rounds to win, the timeout resolution (higher health victor or sudden death), the time limit and even turn friendly fire on. Up to four players can join the fray, which means you can have 1v1, 2v2 or more unorthodox matchups like 1v2v1. This mode is not exempt from novelty wearing off quickly, but the social element may get spirits riled up long enough to help in countering that to some extent. Custom Game, the mode unlocked once you complete story mode, is essentially the same as Shootout, but offering an even greater level of customization, allowing players to also alter which powerups and consumable weapons will be present during the match.

Super Rocket Shootout, PC, Review, Screenshot

Unfortunately for itself, Super Rocket Shootout has trouble standing out in any significant way. An unimpressive presentation, coupled with a story and characters that are completely forgettable, plus gameplay that ends up becoming stale a little too soon all act against it. The short bursts of fun that come with the occasional well-placed shot or dynamite to the face don’t overshadow an overall experience that’s largely unfulfilling. Its local co-op modes have some potential of offering a good time, although, even here its staying power is doubtful. At the end of the day, Super Rocket Shootout is just another retro-inspired title joining an already overcrowded room.

Bogdan Robert, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Digital Tribe
Developer(s): Oddly Shaped Pixels
Genres: Action, Platformer
Themes: Pixel Art
Release Date: 2017-07-14

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