Get this: You have this rocket you ride like a motorcycle, right? And it has these extremely useful cables that shoot from the left and right, grabbing pretty much anything you can get them to grab -- poles (for whipcrack turns), balls (for throwing into the goal, when there is one), mines (for throwing at somebody else), and your opponent (for dragging around the field). You can also latch onto the other guy's/gal's rocket and drag it through the air, but this isn't nearly as much fun as yanking them off their bike for a good drag around the playing area. There's something about yelps of anguish that make a game worth playing.
There are actually three different "games" here, each with its own objective:
Rocket War: Kill the other guy. You don't get points for killing, but you do get points for yanking somebody off their rocket, yanking somebody off the ground, and just yanking in general.
Rocket Race: Race through flashing gates in the correct order and reach the finish line before time runs out.
Rocket Ball: Grab the ball with your cable and swoosh it into the goal before the clock runs out. Avoid obstacles. The referee is not your friend.
Like the three games themselves, everything seems to have an escalation; the better you get, the more tricked-out rockets you have to choose from. The balls you use to score goals with come in a few different varieties, some of which aren't even balls (for instance -- radial tires. They're heavier, and hence more difficult to manage, but also good for throwing at the other player). The poles you latch onto for quick turns and race through may, at some point, latch on to you, and not let go until they're damn well good and ready. When you're on foot you can duck, jump and, provided it's available, take somebody else's bike. And so on. To describe every detail would take up more room than we have available, and maybe ruin some surprises.
The rockets maneuver on both the horizontal and vertical planes, but not very well on the former (which is the idea -- see next paragraph). While you have some degree of control over their speed, they never crawl. The gap between moving at an incredible rate of speed and not moving at all is filled mostly with smashing metal and a failed attempt at getting out of the way. (This is a very fast-paced game. It can't really be played at a leisurely pace, even if your intent is to lose.)
The cables, which extend to either the left or right and can be disconnected at will, are most often used for turning. When I first sat down to play I found that the rockets didn't corner very well, my reaction to which was "This sucks!", but after a few minutes I realized that this was part of the design, and a killer idea at that! In fact, it's a major contribution to the overall out-of-control feeling the game has. You better grab that damn pole, or else life is going to get a whole bunch more painful.
You can play with a mouse or joystick, but this game might be one of those rare games where you're better off playing with the keyboard. I found the keys to be super easy to understand. All in all, there isn't much of a learning curve to the controls at all.
It isn't exactly the newest thing in the world, but I hope it becomes a trend: The sound and graphics settings in RJ are adjusted with levels of "realism", as opposed to percentages, resolution, or some other bland, computer-driven language. I like to play computer games, but I'd prefer to have to think about the machine as little as possible. It's a nice touch.
More to the topic, all the usuals are fully customizable -- sound effects, music, video, and so on, can get crisp, blurry, quiet, loud ... take your pick.
I'm not a surf guitar fanatic of any variety, but the soundtrack of fairly recent recordings (dating back to 1993) suits the game pretty well. The big drums and twangy guitars help to craft a mood of reckless fun, and it's repetitive enough not to be distracting but substantial enough to be satisfying. The sound effects range from suitable to very funny, but I felt like the game could have used a little more oomph in this area.
The graphics aren't exceptionally detailed or especially attractive, but I didn't feel shortchanged. The design of the game attempts to create a "rough and ready" atmosphere, and it mostly succeeds. 256 colors, with an emphasis on browns.
The box says kids to adults, and I agree. It's violent, but not graphically so.
A slightly strange idea that's loads of fun. It's a game with a field, borders, and goals to be made, but it isn't much like other games that fit that description so I haven't much to compare it to -- which, let's face it, is noteworthy all by itself. It's not one for the ages, but it's good fun and rates a 79 out of 100 overall.
Download Rocket Jockey
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP