Review: Rocket Mania

Game: Rocket Mania
Language: Java
Category: Puzzle / Action
Tested on: Debian Linux + Firefox
Rating: 5 out of 5
Offered by: Popcap Games (link)

Sometimes there are games you just can’t get enough of. Ones that you’ll play for hours until every muscle cramps into place, and you find yourself staggering, quasimodo like, to bed at 2am, your hand and body permanently stuck in that crouched mouse-clutching state

With that sort of intro, how can you not be intrigued?

Rocket Mania, from Popcap games, assaulted my sense of relaxation time about a year ago. I had downloaded and actually paid for a version on my PC (under Windows, alas), and since then have moved on to a total Linux desktop experience. While going through some more games to review, I remembered this particular game, and decided to run it up again

The Java version isn’t as immersive as the Windows version. Some of the voice tracks are missing, and some animation is changed, but the gameplay and just plain Funness is still there.

The goal of the game is to connect up matches to rockets. The premise is you’re a fireworks expert in ancient China, putting on a show for the crowd. The more rockets you launch at a time, the happier the crowd is (Oo! ah!), and they throw you money. The money can be used (if you pick it up) to upgrade your rockets. Better rockets mean more points, and more spectacular shows.

To accomplish this, you use the mouse to select small squares to rotate. The squares are bits of fuse in various patterns. Make a route connecting a match to a rocket, and fwoosh! Off it goes! If you make a path that connects up more than one rocket to a match, they all launch at once, and the crowd gives you kudos (more oohing and ahhing, more money).

Simple, eh? Well, it gets more complicated. Each round you need to launch more and more rockets before daybreak (I suppose the crowd gets jaded, and demands better shows). I’ve played this game for almost 2 hours straight, getting into the range of needing to launch 35+ rockets per round, and that’s quite a challenge. In addition to the time limit, the game starts throwing in ‘dead ends’ – bits of fuse that are just caps and just end the line. They also include bombs that can wreck your fuse arrangement when you launch. On the plus side, you also start getting little clocks that ‘freeze’ the time so you can catch up if you fall behind.

This is one of the top notch games available, particularly in Java / Flash form. Try it at least once, and if you like it, keep going, but give it a shot. I’d also recommend having the sound on, just to hear the FWOOSH of the rockets as they go off, and the happy hoots and whistles of the crowd when you get off a flight of 5, 6, 8 rockets a shot.

The long game time, even challenge, and simple approach make this one a lot of fun to play for a long time at a stretch. Check the clock often, and don’t start it up on days where you have deadlines looming.


A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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