Nostalgia, noun – Rex Rocket
1) A feeling of pleasure and also slight sadness when you think about things that happened in the past.
2) A ploy used by game studios to make you buy a game with outdated mechanics and graphics.
Rex Rocket is the latest in old fashioned games with a 16-bit art style and dialogue boxes presented in eyesight ruining white text the likes of which we abandoned decades ago. We keep buying into it though because we want to relive those days from our childhoods where games were “better”. Rex Rocket is a trip down memory lane, pity it’s one we’ve seen many times before.
Visually Rex Rocket is, well, like every other nostalgia baiting title of the past few years. It’s a shame that so many of them have taken to relying on nostalgia to draw people rather than having a unique aesthetic. Cave Story and Dust are both metroidvania titles and both are unique and beautiful. Each have unique enemies, characters and settings that are inspired by their predecessors and don’t stick to their predecessors’ designs like some holy mantra. Rex Rocket on the other hand has bats, on a spaceship. Oh, and zombies, blobs and Thwomps.
As we’ve seen before, bad graphics and aesthetics don’t make for a terrible game. No, you need to complete the bingo card to be a bad game. Bland, overused aesthetic! Out of place enemies! Scattershot tone! Only able to shoot in four direction! BINGO!
Rex Rocket tries to be funny and has a few funny jokes but for the most part its idea of humour is to quote films. This would normally be fine, but it’s also trying to tell a story about a captain who has to save his crew from a deadly ooze and insane A.I. It both ruins any attempts at being funny as it has strange dark undertones while also ruining any attempt at being dramatic as it goes for cheap laughs at the wrong times.
As for gameplay, Rex Rocket really digs into the well of nostalgia and brings us four directional shooting. Many people will read this and claim that it’s well and fine for a game to have four directional shooting but in this day and age, those people are wrong. We have evolved; if Toyota said they were making a car that ran on steam power they’d be laughed out of the show room. So why is it okay for games to use outdated mechanics?
The only good things we can really say for Rex Rocket is that the soundtrack stands up on its own. It is inspired by its predecessors but brings so much more to the table. That, and you can choose to be male or female, which is always a nice touch.
We played Rex Rocket for as long as we could and it’s made this review difficult to write because it was just so unrearkable. Its lack of tone made it seem passionless and forced and when you’re relying on nostalgic charm, you need passion. Otherwise you aren’t fooling anyone.
Oh, and the first ten minutes of the game involve you walking back and forth across the ship to talk to people. Why don’t they have phones?! This is 20XX dammit!