The Rocketeer. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Eddie Huffman
So you won a couple of air races the conventional way--in a plane. Then you turned around and beat the planes flying solo with your spiffy new rocket pack. You're feeling pretty pumped up. But wouldn't you know it? A group of Nazi soldiers has staked out your hangar to steal the plans for the rocket pack! Within moments, they've locked up your mechanic, kidnapped your girlfriend, and blasted off for parts unknown. Darn the luck! Time for action--again.
There's no rest for the Rocketeer in the game of the same name, a Disney Software product modeled after the Disney movie. In an elaborate series of arcade games linked by story interludes that resemble panels from a comic book, you assume the role of the Rocketeer. The action ranges from fast-paced and friendly--racing at Bigelow's Air Circus--to fast-paced and potentially fatal--sending Nazis screaming to their deaths while you dodge bombs above the clouds in a gunfight to the finish.
Though The Rocketeer includes elements of both adventure and arcade games, it's primarily an arcade game. That's hardly a drawback: This 256-color arcade game's backdrops are more realistic-looking than those of most adventure games. A 1930s California airfield is rendered with remarkable vividness, while the hangar interior in which the Rocketeer has a frantic shootout with the Nazi soldiers exhibits impressive clutter. The game's sound adds to the excitement. Though the comic-book dialogue of Rocketeer Cliff Secord and his companions is wooden and predictable, the adventure is heightened by the convincing sound effects. When I played the Rocketeer, the game automatically routed the dialogue and sound effects through The Sound Source included with my Combo-Pak, while the music emanated from my Covox Sound Master II. It was a winning combination.
Too bad I can't say the same for my game-playing skills and The Rocketeer. Though I thoroughly enjoyed playing the game, after many hours I still wasn't able to reach the fourth and final episode. Even so, I thought the level of difficulty was appropriate. It took me a great deal of practice and learning from my mistakes to advance through The Rocketeer. My only complaint is one that's been echoed by computer gamers since the Roman Empire: You should be able to save your games!
While you can skip early episodes once you've conquered them, conquering the first episode alone took hours. To escape it, the Rocketeer must win three races, two by plane and one by rocket pack. After watching one more fiery crash and starting over for the 38th time, you'll be ready to smash your Sound Source when Cliff's mechanic says, "All right, hotshot, you're in. Now where do you want to begin?"
The Rocketeer works with a joystick, keyboard, mouse, or some combination of the three. I don't have a joystick, but I found both my mouse and keyboard adequate for playing the game. I used neither consistently, however: I found the keyboard much more effective than the mouse during the initial episode, but the mouse played better during episodes 2 and 3.
I'm not sure I'd recommend the game to someone without a joystick or a mouse, but I recommend it unreservedly to anyone who has either. It's a multipart arcade game that's visually appealing, sounds great, and presents one tough, entertaining challenge after another. What more could you ask? Well, maybe a save-game feature ... EDDIE HUFFMAN
IBM PC and compatibles (80286 or faster running at 10 MHz); 640K RAM; EGA or VGA; hard drive recommended; supports Ad Lib, PS/1 Audio Card, Roland MT-32/LAPC-1, Sound Blaster (386 required, MCV not supported), Tandy Sound, and The Sound Source-$49.95; Combo-Pak-$69.95
WALT DISNEY COMPUTER SOFTWARE 500 S. Buena Vista St. Burbank, CA 91521-6740 (800) 688-1520
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