The platformer genre has a long history in videogames. Anybody reading this likely has fond memories of Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, and/or Megaman. Rick Rocketson Pro follows in this tradition, so it feels pretty familiar. You play as a futuristic-looking action hero who has to jump and shoot his way through levels, collecting keys and avoiding enemies. Though the game is a very competent example of the genre, finicky controls end up marring what could otherwise be a great little game.
There are a lot of things to like about Rick Rocketson. The game sports a very retro-sounding chiptune soundtrack. The heavy synths and low-fi sound give it a nice nostalgic feel. The graphics are colorful and in keeping with the campy futuristic aesthetic. The eponymous protagonist is armed with a blaster and a limited supply of grenades. The weapons are nicely balanced for dealing with the variety of enemies that you face in each level. Powerups are scattered around the level that can refill your health, give you more grenades and boost your points. Each of the 14 levels in the game is pretty short, not usually lasting more than a few minutes. Doors requiring keys force you to backtrack and extend the length of the level. At $1.99 the game is priced appropriately, as a skilled player will get through the game pretty quickly.
The most frustrating part of Rick Rocketson is the controls. The game uses a “touch button” control scheme, but the movement controls are split such that you move left and right with your left thumb and jump or climb ladders with your right thumb. Your right thumb is also responsible for operating your blaster and grenades via two cramped buttons to the left of your jump controls. The whole ordeal is a tangled mess that made us feel more like a court stenographer than an action hero. Also, the sensitivity of the buttons means that a short tap may toss out many precious grenades instead of one, and the lack of any feedback means that your thumb can move off of the tiny controls making you miss a crucial move. Even worse, a sadistic design decision resulted in some levels that require very precise jumping. Making one mistake–and you will probably make many–results in instant death and a level restart, which can obviously be very irritating.
Rick Rocketson Pro is close to being a great little platformer. It is difficult in the tradition of old games like Megaman. Unfortunately, most of the difficulty comes from the loose controls, rather than crafty level design or devious enemies. The levels would have been better off if designed with the touch controls in mind, relying more on puzzles and enemy variety rather than just stacking a series of punishing jumps one after another. That said, the game is still fun most of the time, despite the uneven difficulty. We suggest trying the five-level trial version to see if you can handle the jump puzzles and controls; if so, you will likely have some fun trying to crack the rest of the levels. For the rest of us, there are plenty of more polished and less frustrating experiences on the App Store.