I am usually not too fond of games made specifically for phones and tablets like Angry Birds or the slew of other overly simple games that followed it. That being said, there are those games like Game Dev Story and Sword & Sworcery that give me reason to believe thereís hope for interesting ideas on these platforms. So, even though Rigonauts uses the level progression, ranking system, and trial and error gameplay that you see in Angry Birds and the like, the gameís vehicle creation and strategy component gives it a substance that many similar games lack.
Rigonauts is about creatures called Hobs that escape from slavery on a ship, and then crash land on an island. From there they have to construct vehicles from the wreckage of their ship in order to do battle with the creatures tasked with returning them to their owner. When starting up the game there is a small introduction that explains this simple back story, and as the game proceeds the Hobs continue their resistance while facing increasingly difficult foes. But the story is only a small, somewhat uninteresting side note to the vehicle creation, which is what this game is about.
If youíve ever played Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts, than you have a pretty decent understanding of Rigonauts, the only difference is it is 2D rather than 3D. Each level in Rigonauts starts you off with a default ship, and from there you have to alter it by adding or subtracting wheels, guns, supports, and many other items with the end goal of destroying the enemyís vehicle before he destroys your own. When starting a level you see the enemyís ship, and then you get to start working on your own. After you feel youíve made a machine worthy of battle, you simply hit an on screen button and your Hobs will start off towards the enemy, aiming and firing on their own. You have no control on what actually happens after youíve decided to start the battle, youíre only decisions are made while building your vehicle.
At first, thereís not much strategy too it. Simply mount some guns, and fire away. Though eventually, the game introduces more weapons, structure types that have strengths and weaknesses, terrain variations, and even multiple enemies that attack from both sides. The strategy comes in deciding exactly how you are going to construct your vehicle, and then what part of the enemy (or enemies) you are going to attack first. Sometimes the entire enemy vehicle relies on one beam that can be easily taken out, and other times their vehicle designs are much harder to crack with what seems like no weak points. The trick is experimenting with your creation, donít be afraid to get crazy with your designs because thatís really where the fun in this game lies.
I found the vehicle creation to be extremely rewarding, as well as hilarious and wacky. In the later stages it can be difficult to figure out exactly how a vehicle needs to be constructed to beat the level, but after experimentation it feels amazing to finally have figured it out. Thatís not to say itís all serious all the time. Sometimes the most fun I had with the game was simply trying to make something crazy and see what happens. Since you canít really control anything during the battle, and the physics in the game donít take effect until you actually press go, sometimes your creation will end up working or failing in a ridiculous way you never could have intended.
I usually find designated mobile games to be cheap, gimmicky, and boring, but I found Rigonauts to be a delightful experience that is rare in really any game. The strategy and work required to actually have a chance at beating even some of the earlier levels is much greater than simply altering some swipes of the finger, or dragging of the mouse. Although I did play the PC version, it is easy to see where the developers focus was, but thatís not to say it seemed to lack anything on the PC. Disregarding the mobile platforms, I still found Rigonauts to be a worthwhile PC game.
When it comes down to it, Rigonauts may not be the most complex or deep game, but the freedom and fun that the vehicle creation brings something not found in really any game since Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts. Add some interesting strategy elements, and you have a satisfying experience. Rigonauts isnít anything special to look at, and its roots as a mobile focused game may have its drawbacks, but I definitely think itís something worth checking out.