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The Last Rocket ($2.99) is an inventive little puzzle/platformer that is quite a bit of fun to play in its own right. The eight-bit art style and retro soundtrack make it an extra joy to play, especially for those of us who fondly remember the days of putting that Mega Man cartridge into the Nintendo after school.
In The Last Rocket, you control a rocket as you navigate ever-more-complex rooms. The goal is to collect gears littered throughout each room, while avoiding spikes, mines and flamejets on your way toward the escape hatch. There are a grand total of 64 rooms to complete, and depending on how many gears you collect, you will be rewarded with a different ending.
Controlling the rocket is quite straightforward. A simple tap will launch the rocket 90 degrees from the last surface landed upon. A second tap mid-flight will defy physics and turn the rocket 180 degrees. There are a couple of ways to move laterally. The first is while sitting stationary on any surface, you may “walk” the rocket right or left to line up that perfect launch. Finally, you can swipe left or right when held in place by air vents, and send the rocket off 90 degrees from your original trajectory. The controls are simple, and so is the story, but these do not detract from the fun gameplay.
Only a couple of troublesome issues cropped up. The first thing you might notice is that there's a slight delay from the time you tap the screen to when the rocket changes course. At first this really bothered me, as running into any nasty obstacle will send you back to the beginning of the room. As I played, though, I found myself compensating for this delay, and stopped noticing it after a while. The other item that I wish could be changed, is that there's no way to replay a single stage once passed. This led to a situation during my first game where I accidentally passed a stage without grabbing all the gears first. The only two options at this point were to continue on or start again from the beginning. I chose the former, and made a mental note to be more diligent next time.
The challenge in this app is substantial, and many rooms will take quite a few tries to achieve perfection. Each room is different, and the difficulty scales nicely. I was transported back to a time when the best games were simple and difficult, and yet quite a lot of fun. I'm sure that if you download this app, you'll have a blast as well.