Reviewed: April 22, 2007
Released: April 11, 2007
Iíve always been a big fan of Xbox Live Arcade, even if it has become home to a library of refitted retro titles from the 80ís arcade days. I certainly donít mind rehashing the past in high-definition in the comfort of my own home. For a while it seemed that XBLA might be doomed to see nothing but classic games. After all, how much could you fit into the tight storage limits imposed by Microsoft?
Now that Microsoft has released their 8x memory unit and increased the potential size of games that can appear on the Live Arcade we are finally starting to see some really creative titles, and Electronic Arts (POGO) was quick to debut their first arcade title, Boom Boom Rocket.
At first glance, Boom Boom Rocket appears to be a fancier version of a PS2 launch title called Fantavision, but in reality, Boom Boom Rocket is a pretty clever music game that blends some traditional elements borrowed from DDR and infuses the pattern-matching gameplay with carefully selected, unlicensed, and original remixed music from renowned composer, Ian Livingstone.
Boom Boom Rocket couldnít be simpler, at least in theory. The game takes place over a gorgeous metropolitan skyline, contrasted by the night sky. A purple bar along the top of the screen indicates the detonation point for a few hundred rockets that are about to launch from the bottom of the screen. Itís your job to detonate each rocket as it hit the line. The closer your timing, the better your score.
Rockets appear as symbols, either color only (that match the face buttons of the controller), or arrows, or actually letters of the face buttons. Obviously, color only will yield the prettiest results onscreen, but youíll probably have an easier time using the directional symbols, especially if you end up using the D-pad on the harder skill levels.
Boom Boom Rocket diverges from the traditional DDR gameplay by not only having the rockets streaming toward the top at varying speeds, but also at variable trajectories, so a rocket that launches from the lower right may arc to the top left before you detonate it. It gets really evil when rockets start to cross paths and individual rockets change speed, possibly creating a two-rocket detonation if they reach the line at the same time.
Unless you are a master of the face buttons you probably wonít be able to help but use the D-pad to supplement your control, especially on the Medium and Hard skill settings as simultaneous explosions are as frequent as single rockets. In addition to the skill settings, the game gets much harder the further down you go in the 10-song track list. This makes for a nice progression since the last song on Easy is about as hard as the first song played over on Medium.
Regardless of the song or skill level the game remixes the rocket pattern so that the detonations synch with the rhythm or beat of the music on each skill leveÖmost of the time. There are a few songs where the timing is totally off and you have to rely solely on hand-eye coordination and almost tune out the music.
As you detonate multiple consecutive rockets you will build up the combo meter shown at the top of the screen. When this meter is full you can trigger a cool bonus mode that dims the skyline, turning everything into a ghostly white and vaporous outline. Fireworks are blurred and explosions are enhanced for a truly awesome spectacle and double the point value for the duration of the effect.
If you perform well enough you will earn bonus firework designs that will be added to your repertoire of traditional designs and patterns. These can be as simple as symbols from playing cards to musical notes and other fun designs.
There is local multiplayer support for head-to-head in both Battle and Endurance modes and you can track your scores online using Xbox Live Leaderboards.
Boom Boom Rocket is as visually breathtaking as any real fireworks display. After all, this game was made by the people who brought us Geometry Wars, and that game was basically one big fireworks show. The city is magnificent and the fireworks are colorful and burst with plenty of random designs. The camera is always in motion, panning and rotating around the city to give you the best view of the show against the complex skyline.
My only real complaint is that much like other games that require your total concentration, you really canít enjoy any of the graphics while playing the game. Itís great for people that are watching, but I wish there was a video replay mode so I could watch what I just did and possibly move the camera around the city on my own.
Also, after about 8-10 hours of gaming Iím pretty bored with the included city. It would have been nice to have multiple cities or possibly unlockable cities as a bonus. Iíd like to see some famous places like New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Beijing, Paris, etc. Who knows; there is an option for future downloadable content.
Ten songs isnít much, but then again, you are only paying 800 MS points, and some of these songs are pretty long. There were a few where I had put down the controller waiting for the results screen to appear only to have the second part of the song kick in.
The music is all oddly familiar, despite being heavily remixed with a techno dance beat style suitable for a rhythm game. You might not recognize the song names but once you hear them youíll remember them. Here are the ten songs included with the game:
Boom Boom Rocket is more of a diversion than an actual game, so itís hard to say how long you will play. I got through all ten songs on Easy and halfway through the list on Medium in a single sitting before I got stumped enough to quit. Iíve gone back a few times to show the game to other people and to relax myself. Itís almost therapeutic.
There is support for content download, which I assume to be more music, fireworks patterns, and hopefully new cities, but thatís only going to happen if enough people end up getting the game.
Boom Boom Rocket requires you to complete 12 rather difficult objectives if you want to earn all 200 gamer score points. Some are easy like completing 10 songs, or getting an A rating on any Easy song, but others will keep you playing for hours and weeks to come. Just try getting an A on 10 Medium songs or unlocking all the firework patterns and see what I mean.
I really enjoyed Boom Boom Rocket, but it certainly picked a bad time to arrive on the 360 with the release of Guitar Hero II dominating the music scene this month and DDR Universe releasing last month. Iím curious to see if it would be possibly to play the game with the guitar controller. I know you can play it with the DDR dance pad if your feet are faster than your fingers.
Despite being sandwiched between two high-profile music games, Boom Boom Rocket offers a unique and vibrant gameplay experience that is really unmatched by anything else out there. Itís definitely worth checking out the trial copy and if you enjoy those two songs and the gameplay then 800 points is a small price to pay for the colorful and foot-tapping fun waiting in the full version.