Rocket: Robot on Wheels

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Rocket: Robot on Wheels
Rocket: Robot on Wheels
North American Nintendo 64 box art
Developer(s)Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher(s)Ubi Soft
Designer(s)Don Munsil
Platform(s)Nintendo 64
Release
  • NA: October 31, 1999
  • EU: December 17, 1999
Genre(s)Platformer
Mode(s)Single-player

Rocket: Robot on Wheels is a platformer video game developed by Sucker Punch Productions and published by Ubi Soft for the Nintendo 64. The game was released in North America on October 31, 1999, and in Europe on December 17, 1999; this was the first game developed by Sucker Punch. In the game the player takes control over Rocket, the titular robot. Rocket: Robot on Wheels is notable for being the first game on a home platform to use a realistic physics engine to drive the gameplay; the player is required to solve puzzles dealing with mass, inertia, friction, and other physical properties. The game had been developed under the title Sprocket until three months before its release, when it was changed due to a trademark conflict with Game Sprockets.[1][2]

Gameplay[edit]

The game has six differently themed worlds (not including the final level), all connected to the main Whoopie World area; each world is opened by finding a requisite number of tickets in the other worlds. On the way, the player must learn new moves and techniques from a maintenance robot named Tinker in exchange for tokens found throughout the park; each world has at least one vehicle, used for solving puzzles and getting tickets. For example, the first level has a hot dog car that the player can drive. After collecting enough tickets from throughout the park, the player can gain entry to the final stage, Jojo World, where Jojo is finally confronted; the music in the game has mostly organ and piano and is based around the jazz and psychedelic music genre(s).

Plot[edit]

Rocket is a robot created by Dr. Gavin, the architect and owner of Whoopie World, a futuristic theme park. On the night before opening day, Gavin goes to a party, leaving Rocket in charge of the park and its two animal mascots: Whoopie the walrus and his sidekick Jojo the raccoon. Jojo, who is tired of Whoopie being the star attraction, secretly plots to ruin opening day and replace the park with Jojo World; as soon as Gavin leaves, Jojo escapes his cage and grabs all of the park's tickets and tokens, knocking out Rocket with a mallet before he can realize what's happening. Jojo abducts Whoopie and teleports into the park, causing the attractions to go haywire. Rocket gives chase and begins exploring the many areas of the park, working to find the stolen tickets and tokens so he can catch Jojo and rescue Whoopie before Gavin returns.

After finding many of the missing tickets and tokens, Rocket confronts and defeats Jojo, freeing Whoopie just as Dr. Gavin returns. Gavin commends Rocket for his hard work before leaving again to repair Jojo's damage to the park before it opens. After finding all the tickets and tokens, Rocket is honored by Gavin for his achievements by renaming the park RocketLand, much to Whoopie's dismay.

Development[edit]

After Sucker Punch's founders left Microsoft and formed the studio, they decided to develop a game for the Nintendo 64; the team went to Nintendo to pitch the game, however they refused them, citing a lack of approval. Without development kits or tool libraries, they developed a prototype of the game using a PC; the developers pitched the prototype to Nintendo and received development kits, however Nintendo refused to publish the game.

They spent around a year creating the first level in the game, entirely self-funded and began pitching to multiple developers. Ironically they pitched the game to Sony Interactive Entertainment, who was impressed with it, but they stipulated the game still be released on N64 and later ported to the PlayStation. Nervous about both the concept not being mascot-centric and a potential game being on their biggest competitor's system, Sony declined.

They also pitched to Electronic Arts and were on the cusp of breaking a deal, but it would require the game be cancelled and Sucker Punch start anew on a PlayStation 2 title; the team got cold feet over putting a game on the cutting board, so they continued to pitch it.

Eventually the team went to E3 1999 to present the game themselves, which landed positive coverage in gaming magazines such as Next Generation, catching the attention of Ubisoft, who finally agreed to publish the game.

In hindsight, the developers lament pitching the game when mostly complete and massively underestimating the process of getting a publisher.[3]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
GameRankings82%[4]
Review scores
PublicationScore
AllGame3/5 stars[5]
EGM7.12/10[6]
Game Informer8/10[8]
GameFan92%[7]
GamePro(Lou) 4.5/5 stars[9]
(Boba) 2/5 stars[10]
GameSpot7.6/10[11]
Hyper84%[12]
IGN9/10[13]
Next Generation3/5 stars[14]
Nintendo Power8.4/10[15]

Doug Trueman reviewed the Nintendo 64 version of the game for Next Generation, rating it three stars out of five, and stated that "Rocket is an attractive, almost anti-violent 3D puzzler with graphics intended for kids, but with some puzzles whose level of challenge is more appropriate for adults."[14]

The game received "favorable" reviews according to video game review aggregator GameRankings,[4] it was listed as the "18th Best Nintendo 64 Game of All Time" in Nintendo Power Magazine's 20th anniversary issue.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ IGN staff (1999-08-18). "Sprocket Will Never Be Released". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 2014-12-18.
  2. ^ "Sucker Punch Livestream Rocket: Robot on Wheels!". Sucker Punch Productions. 2014-10-11. Retrieved 2014-10-13.
  3. ^ Moriarty, Colin (2014-09-12). "Something Electric in Bellevue: The History of Sucker Punch". IGN. Ziff Davis.
  4. ^ a b "Rocket: Robot on Wheels for Nintendo 64". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2014-12-18.
  5. ^ Baize, Anthony. "Rocket: Robot on Wheels - Review". AllGame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on 2014-11-14. Retrieved 2014-12-18. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "Rocket: Robot on Wheels". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis. 1999.
  7. ^ Buchanan, Levi "Angus" (1999-11-05). "REVIEW for Rocket: Robot on Wheels". GameFan. Shinno Media. Archived from the original on 2000-03-04. Retrieved 2014-12-18. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ Helgeson, Matt (November 1999). "Rocket: Robot On Wheels - Nintendo 64". Game Informer. No. 79. FuncoLand. Archived from the original on 2000-10-25. Retrieved 2014-12-18. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ Lou Gubrious (1999-12-02). "Rocket: Robot on Wheels Review for N64 on GamePro.com". GamePro. IDG Entertainment. Archived from the original on 2005-02-09. Retrieved 2014-12-19. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ Boba Fatt (December 1999). "Rocket: Robot on Wheels". GamePro. No. 135. IDG Entertainment. p. 188. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  11. ^ MacDonald, Ryan (1999-12-15). "Rocket: Robot on Wheels Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2014-12-18.
  12. ^ Shea, Cam (February 2000). "Review: Rocket: Robot on Wheels". Hyper. No. 76. Next Media Pty Ltd. pp. 80–81.
  13. ^ Casamassina, Matt (1999-11-24). "Rocket - Robot on Wheels". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 2014-12-18.
  14. ^ a b Trueman, Doug (December 1999). "Finals". Next Generation. Vol. 2 no. 4. Imagine Media. p. 107.
  15. ^ "Rocket: Robot on Wheels". Nintendo Power. Vol. 126. Nintendo of America. November 1999. p. 140. Retrieved 2019-01-15.

External links[edit]