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iPad  header logo

Rock Blocker

For: iPad   Also on: iPhone

Retro rock

Product: Rock Blocker | Publisher: Everplay Interactive | Format: iPad | Genre: Shooter | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Rock Blocker iPad, thumbnail 1
The trend for retro-inflected games seems to be lingering well beyond the natural expiry date for such fads. Which probably suggests that this is no fad.

Reconnecting with the simpler game mechanics and approaches of the past isn't just a case of nostalgic wallowing - it's one important way to figure out how to make fun, intuitive games on a relatively new type of device.

Rock Blocker is the latest fine example of this.

Rock blocking beats

Rock Blocker isn't particularly original. Not only does it have hip retro presentation - all 8-bit sprites and driving chip-tunes - but it also takes its gameplay inspiration from a familiar iOS sub-genre.

It's a twin-stick shooter, effectively. You move your little block-shaped craft with one virtual stick and shoot in 360 degrees with the other.

There's also a tilt-based control method, but I'd stick with the virtual stick setup if I were you.

Rock Blocker isn't the most innovative of games, then, but it introduces a little bit of inspiration at key moments to make it stand out from the crowd.

Hide and seek

First there are the rocks of the title. These cubes rush past your craft, causing damage and hiding enemy ships. Laser battles take place around them as they switch from menacing hazard to portable cover in an instant.

Another neat touch is that the level-scrolling can flip in a second. One minute you're hurtling up the screen like in a traditional 2D shmup, while the next it flips to the side and you're going from left to right. Er, also like in a traditional 2D shmup.

IAPs explained
Rock Blocker has one of the most pleasantly unobtrusive IAP systems we've come across in recent times.

You can progress through the game just fine without paying a penny above the initial charge, but the option is there to give your craft a little nudge.

An additional 10,000 credits can be yours for 69p / 99c. As upgrades become more expensive the higher the level, these will only really come in useful later in the game.

Of course, by this point you'll be much better at the game, and your craft will be seriously tough, so you'll be earning more currency the old fashioned way.
Along the way you pick up the usual power-ups that bolster your attacking power for a few precious moments. You can also plough your acquired points into improving your ship's core abilities, which helps you get a little further through the levels each time.

In a neat touch, you can restart from part of the way into the game as you reach certain level milestones, so you don't have to see the same easy levels again each time.

Socially mobile

One final touch that lifts Rock Blocker above many decent-but-unspectacular retro shooters is the multiplayer mode. Grab a friend and you can embark on some frantic same-device multiplayer missions - both cooperatively and competitively.

Obviously this is aimed primarily at iPad owners, but it's a great little feature nonetheless, and it shows that the developer has its eye on the present as much as the past.

Rock Blocker is a highly accomplished retro shoot-'em-up that proves there's still plenty of vitality to be mined from old ideas.
 
Rock Blocker
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 25 February 2013
An excellent retro-tinged shoot-'em-up that doesn't forget the strides that have been made in the genre recently
 
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