Rocket Ranger Takes Flight on iOS!

February 9, 2014 12:12pm
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…he just can’t steer worth a damn once you get him in the air…

…or have him on the ground…

…grrrrrr…

I was playing a rather frustrating game of Defender of the Crown earlier this morning and on a whim, I thought that maybe I’d check to see if Cinemaware has ever said anything new about possibly re-releasing this other childhood favorite of mine to iOS, and despite some initial issues with getting it to come up in the App Store, it turns out that they did!

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The soundtrack is still identical to that iconic music from yesteryear. And the graphics still look just as great as they did in 320×200 when they were kind of revolutionary for their time. Admittedly the audio did jitter a little from time to time, but it’s hard to tell if that was the game’s fault or the device’s fault, seeing as my iPhone is pretty well packed to the gills these days…

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…but sadly, the only real problem with this game is the same thing that plagues its last port of Defender, too – the controls are pretty much abysmal and they make the game almost impossible to play. Although I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of Defender – at least when it’s not being buggy and forcing me to retreat when it hangs on a 40-to-8 siege in my favor, I couldn’t even get through a full game of Rocket Ranger because I just got so frustrated trying to manage the controls.

  • Something as simple as moving lunarium into the rocket pack to fly to the initial battle with the zeppelin over the Atlantic took upwards of 5 minutes just to get right … and when I finally got out there, I blew up the zeppelin with my first shot on the last screen because I could barely dodge the missiles, let alone actually aim at the gondola.
  • The War Room drove me absolutely nuts with the way that they let the cursor loop around from one side to another (did it really do that in the original game?!), and the individual countries were so tough to click on that I could actually place them and then check in later because that’s how long it would take me to center in on the others to hear from each of them.
  • Takeoff … I won’t really comment on because I tended to suck at it using a joystick, too. In this version I nailed my very first one, then failed horribly at each subsequent takeoff.
  • Dogfights … I didn’t realize that you could trigger these other than in Germany, but I ended up doing like three of them on accident and each one got a little worse as I actually tried to maneuver instead of simply hiding out at the bottom of the screen. At the end of the day, the controls are super sensitive and a simple tap sent Rocket Ranger flying across the screen, all too often right into enemy fire…

really wanted this game to be awesome and I was pretty excited when I actually saw that it was available for downloadand only $1.99 is a hell of a bargain! But these guys have got to put more effort into their controls because right now it feels like they’re just pooping nostalgia onto the iPhone because they own the IP, and it kind of takes the piss out of your nostalgia when you sit down to play and it looks and sounds just like the real thing, but the feel is so out of whack that it leaves you wanting to send my phone flying through the air because at least you have some control of the direction that it will take!

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I suppose at least they got rid of the terrible top and bottom banners that clogged the screen in Defender.

And it seems like they’ve added a save state, in that if you close the app, you’re prompted to resume your game when you open it again.

And I’ll even hand it to them for a clever way to handle the decoder wheel, although it would’ve been more efficient if they made the button only appear at times when you actually need the codes instead of hovering over the screen literally all the time…

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But regardless, as much as the controls in Defender were a pain in the ass to learn how to direct the mouse, at least the bulk of that game is all menus and planning, so it’s not really a huge deal if it takes an extra few seconds to get where you need to be. Rocket Ranger’s controls, on the other hand, between being far too sensitive and also just plain inaccurate make this a port where I’m kind of glad that I don’t have anymore Cinemaware titles to look forward to because at this rate, they’re all just going to end up being shit anyways…  😥

It’s really a shame because they have the potential to be so much more.

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