Usually I focus my blogs on opinions and the industry itself, but today I'd like to do something a little different: I'd like to talk about an indie game called Rocket Brigade. Before I begin, full disclaimer: this game was primarily made by my roommate and his brother, so if you view this as a shameless plug you are free to move along, but honestly, I'm just trying to raise awareness because it's not easy getting into the game market, even in 2016. Moreover, I want to share my honest opinion, if I didn't care for the game I either write a full negative review or not talk about it at all.
You still with me? Good. Okay, to give a basic rundown of what the game is. Rocket Brigade is a modern mobile version of Missile Command (1980); essentially rockets and other projectiles are reigning down on your cities and it's your job to respond with rockets of your own. Instead of a scroll wheel you simply touch where you want the rockets to go, they explode at the point where you touched destroying whatever is caught in explosion. Simple enough, right? Perhaps a little too simple, thankfully things start getting a little more interesting as the game progresses. Each wave has so many enemies that you have to shoot down and so many rockets that you have in your reservoir, if you run out you have to resort to your P.E.A. shooter which still kills enemies but doesn't have the explosion which means you can't get multiple enemies in a shot and your timing has to be much better.
There are multiple enemy types. You have your basic rockets, faster rockets, space crabs that take two hits, UFO's, space mines and it even has boss battles. You need to upgrade your abilities between waves in order be able to stop the increasing enemy forces. After each waive you have to weigh your options and consider what you really need to upgrade. You also need to keep your cities protected in order to keep your cash flow moving.
So what do I think of the game? Well it's not perfect, but it's a really great example of the kinds of games I think mobile should be striving for. Like many of you, I roll my eyes when I hear we're getting a mobile version of this, or a mobile sequel to that. The problem is that the games are usually just cash ins (hello Final Fantasy All The Bravest, how did you get here?). Often, they don't work because they aren't built for touch or feel like they simply don't have any kind of real effort put into them.
Rocket Brigade doesn't feel like it's trying to be something more than what it is and I totally appreciate that. I enjoy big budget AAA games as much as the next guy (well, most of the time, lol) but I enjoy games that are more simple and arcadey. Rocket Brigade walks a nice line between being strategic and accessible. From early on you can tell that you can't just fire missiles all willy-nilly, do that and you'll most likely miss and get your cities destroyed and/run out of missiles. There's a level of a mind game in there where you have to predict where things will go. You need to incorporate strategic elements like trying to get multiple enemies in one shot and trying to predict where enemies will move.
I played on easy mode and frankly that was the perfect pace for me. I'm not really great at games so it was forgiving enough for me. It does have a survival element to it, so if you get half your cities destroyed in the first few rounds you are going to suffer later on. But after a little time I started picking up on the nuances and I got into a nice groove. Once you get to that point you can really start to see the appeal of the game, it's easy to learn, and hard to master. This is a trait all arcade games should possess.
In terms of complaints I have a few. First thing is it's not much to look at. Visually it's very plain, I know they were going for a "retro" look and I can respect that, but I think it would have behooved them to make the game look as good as it played. Don't get me wrong, the visuals get the job done, but they are just dated. I did have some issues with slowdown in the late game but I think that may be my tablet, which is sluggish anyway, just thought it was worth mentioning.
Secondly, I did not care for the music. Apparently, I'm in the minority here, because everyone else who has played it enjoyed the music. In my opinion its just hokey, its works in a strange kind of way (think Marvel vs. Capcom 2) and maybe it's a style thing, fine, I just don't like that style.
Lastly is pacing. For those of you who don't know my playstyle, pacing means a lot. For the most part it's fine, but the first few levels are a bit of a drag, it's not until you get some upgrades and the levels start picking up pace that you can get into that aforementioned groove. The late game on the other hand gets a little too fast for me, I felt like I couldn't keep up. I realize it's the final parts of the game, but the difficulty really ramps up, particularly on the final boss.
Now none of these things are deal breakers, especially considering the price (free!). There are ads but they are totally non intrusive and there is the option to purchase the ad free version coming soon for a dollar, best of all: no microtransactions, so I'm pretty happy about that.
Overall I'm really happy for Daleo and Steve at Catboy Games and I wish them the best of luck. If you have few minutes give it a try. Indie developers are really important to the gaming industry and we ought to support them in any way we can.