|Developer:||NovaLogic|||||Release Date:||1992|||||Systems:||SNES, DOS|
This week on Super Adventures I'm playing a licensed tie-in SNES game! Because I've got more curiosity than sense.
The Rocketeer is based on the 1991 comic book action movie... probably. He has the same logo, the suit looks right and it's got 'Disney' written on it so I'm assuming there's a connection. But I haven't really seen the movie, so I don't know the characters and I've only got the vaguest idea about the plot. I'm coming into this with a good amount of ignorance.
Though one thing I do know is that the SNES version is actually a port of a DOS game and those are the only two systems this particular Rocketeer game came out for. Sega owners missed out this time, though I doubt they were missing much. But hey I'll give it a fair chance to win me over, it might surprise me.
I am 100% on board with the idea of trying out Stan Lee's new rocket pack, but the guy refuses to let me touch the thing until I've won two races in the Gee Bee.
The art in these cutscenes looks straight out a comic book, and a good one too. You can see how it's dropped an extra panel down as the story's progressed.
Here's what the original PC game looks like for comparison:
What's interesting is that the dialogue is also different in the original DOS version, as it's apparently following the plot of the movie instead of trying to be a sequel. What's more interesting is that there's voices! The lines sound like they were recorded through a phone, but it seems fairly well acted. In fact it reminds me of an old radio serial, which I guess is fitting. Shame that it sounds terrible though.
I guess I'll just keep pressing buttons until one of them increases the throttle then.
I can use the L and R button or D-pad to turn, but he takes the corners automatically so I don't know how that helps. I can fly up and down, but that seems to have absolutely no point. I'm starting to think that maybe a side-view aeroplane racing game might not have been a good idea.
It looks like I'm in the lead, but I'm really not. Those two planes are so much faster than me they've lapped me several times already. Well I'm beating the parked car at least.
I was still left behind in last place though.
I managed to win in the end and my reward was... having to do the exact same race again, except with 15 laps this time.
But now that I know that I have what it takes to be a pro plane racer I loaded up the DOS game to replicate my awesome victory... and got my ass handed to me again. Even though I know what to do now I'm still not good enough to win a single race.
So I guess I'm sticking with the SNES version then.
Seems like the game's suddenly turned into a Wild Guns shooting gallery, which I'm tentatively considering to be an upgrade. Though the D-pad is not designed for moving a crosshair around a screen!
I'm thinking that the background's pre-rendered and the characters are all digitised actors in costume, but it's hard to tell. It's not a style that plays to the SNES hardware's strengths but it's actually not terrible looking for something created in 1991.
By the way it looks like my health's regenerating, but that's just the GIF looping. I assure you that CLIFF bar is only ever going down.
Wait... I had a rocket pack on?
In retrospect the fuel gauge on the HUD and the fuel pickups I've been walking over should've been a clue, but with all the barrels around I just assumed I had to kill the Nazis without blowing up all our own plane fuel. Didn't stop me from seeing what happened when I shot the fuel drums, but unfortunately there was no boom.
ANOTHER DEATH LATER.
TWO ADDITIONAL DEATHS LATER.
Wait, he wants to do another race? I just did two races!
I feel like I've finally encountered the missing story from earlier that explains why he was in a hangar being shot at.
It seems like what they've done is taken the PC levels and reused them more than once to pad the game out. So instead of 'race, hangar, etc.' it goes 'race, hangar, race, hangar'. The PC version of this shooting stage is very similar to this, with Nazis throwing grenades from the start, except it has mouse control. Also it's bastard hard, I was able to outrun the camera and disappear off screen, and it doesn't seem to ever give out health kits!
He wasn't so bad though. I just shot the bits that made the ENEMY bar go down and managed to beat him with a pixel of CLIFF to spare. The stage took around three minutes in total.
This shoot 'em up stage is pretty much exactly how it looks. Except you can't see that I'm having to keep tapping the fire button to shoot. Plus you might not have noticed that the scrolling speeds up when I fly to the right and slows down when I'm on the left. Don't remember seeing a shoot 'em up do that before. It's annoying and I wish it'd stop.
They like to dip down under the bottom of the screen and then fly back around behind me, and the sky starts getting crowded if I don't kill them fast enough. Fortunately I have a secret weapon! Sometimes things drop sparkly things when I destroy them and when I collect enough I can use them as ammo for my 7-way spread shot! Guaranteed to kill any rocketman in one hit, assuming I actually hit them.
Oh by the way, you might have noticed that my gun fires rocket-propelled bullets. The enemy guns do too, except they use the same bullet sprite as me so their bullets fly backwards.
10 MINUTES LATER.
You can see my progress on the bottom right, so I am apparently getting somewhere. It's just going to take a while.
Though I suppose I should check where the last checkpoint puts me. Just out of curiosity.
I am NOT replaying all of that from the start. I can't believe I played it all in the first place!
But the PC version is shorter and has passwords, so I might as well skip through and show off what the rest of the game looks like. After the rocket pack shoot 'em up level in the sky, the next level is...
So I lost and turned it off.
I've played a lot of licensed tie-ins for my site in the last five or so years, but it's rare that I find one that goes the 'terrible minigame collection' route instead of the 'mediocre platformer' one. A game that does four or five things really badly instead of focusing on doing one thing semi-competently. So The Rocketeer has added some much-needed variety to my site and I appreciate that.
Not that it's all bad! I liked the comic book cutscenes and the graphics can be quite nice on the PC version. I'm a sucker for digitised actors in costumes. Plus the shoot 'em up stage technically works, even if it technically lasts something like a quarter of an hour in the SNES version. I've no idea how long it lasts in the DOS game though because they forgot to include any health kits.
Or to be more accurate, when it came to the SNES port they did what they could to bring the difficulty level down from 'nope' to 'hard', and then padded the game out to make up for the fact that it was now possible to finish the original five levels without ascending to godhood first. Even with the repeated levels it's still possible to finish it about 25 minutes.
There is a third version of the game on the NES, but that one is apparently a mediocre platformer and therefore likely to be much better than this. Maybe I'll check it out some day.
I don't want to play the SNES game any more though and you probably don't either, so I can't really recommend it, but I would recommend that you strap a rocket to it and fire it into the cleansing nuclear fires of the sun.