The Last Rocket: Mobile Gaming, Retro Style, on Your Mac

Ever get nostalgic for 8-bit gaming, but don’t want to play an old game in Dosbox? Shaun Imman‘s critically acclaimed The Last Rocket was a hit on the iPhone when it launched last year, earning 10 stars in our own review.

The Last Rocket has just recently been released for the Mac, and I was eager to try it out as soon as I saw it in the App Store. Spoiler: it was every bit as good as I expected.

Macs: The New Indie Game Platform

Long derided as the worst choice for anyone who wants to play games on their computer, Macs historically have had far fewer gaming options than PCs. But that’s hardly the case anymore. As we’ve seen this past month, there’s a wide variety of games of all genres for Macs, enough to more than satisfy most people.

Best of all, a growing number of indie games are coming out now only for Macs, giving the platform an edge for casual gamers. If there’s two major things that have turned Macs into an active gaming platform, it’s the App Store and iOS. iOS games are much easier to port to OS X, by all accounts, and the App Store gives you a dead-simple way to sell your games. There’s almost no reason not to bring successful iOS games to the Mac. We’ve already seen it with games such as Angry Birds and Real Racing, but they both felt decidedly different on the Mac. Now, though, we have games that feel like direct ports from iOS, and yet still make great Mac games.

Mac Gamers, Meet The Last Rocket

That’s exactly what The Last Rocket is. It’s a successful iOS game that’s been brought almost directly to the Mac. So much so, it still feels like a phone game, or perhaps an emulated older game. It runs in an iPhone sized window, one that might remind you of the Xcode iPhone emulator if you’ve ever developed iPhone apps. You can even choose to run it in a tiny mode that looks more like a Dashboard widget, or a 400% mode that looks more like the iPad.

iOS Gaming on the Mac, 8-bit style

And yet, at the same time, it’s got most of the fit and finish you’d expect from a modern Mac app. You can take it full-screen from the top-left corner, which is decidedly the best way to play it in a larger mode. You can also control it with your mouse or keyboard, and playing with the keyboard is often easier than using the iPhone version’s touch controls. And while the options consist simply of a sound test and reset option for now, the next update will see Game Center support added to the game.

The Last Rocket’s Options

Gameplay

If you’ve already played The Last Rocket on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll already know what to expect, as the game is almost exactly the very same aside from using your keyboard instead of touch swipes. If you haven’t played the game before, you’re in for a treat. The Last Rocket is a beautifully designed 8-bit game following the last rocket in a spaceship that’s trying to gather the gears to finish assembling himself.

Through the game, you’ll have to glide with fans, jump, huddle to avoid spikes, deactivate sensors, and more. Finish the level by stoping at the exit door, which sometimes needs activated by pushing a button, and you’ll be transported to the next level. It’s got just enough challenges to keep you on your toes, and does a great job at getting a bit harder with each level. And when you kill your rocket, the game’s image will shake, just like it does in iOS, though the window itself doesn’t shake (as you’d expect … but I secretly hoped the window would actually shake).

You’ll have to think through a plan to get through alive. Thankfully, you have unlimited lives, so you can always try again.

The game opens with a storyline, showing in an 8-bit terminal-style window a quick intro to your rocket’s mission. You can tap your arrow keys to continue, or click the screen, as you’d expect. Then, if you ever need help figuring out how to proceed, just navigate your rocket to the computer screen that’s in each level, and you’ll see the 8-bit terminal pop back up with pointers to keep you going. It’s a nice level of integrated help that feels perfect on iOS and on the Mac.

Stop by a computer (where else?) to find out what to do next

Confusing Keys

The Last Rocket is obviously a casual game, one that might not provide you with hours of continuous gameplay but instead one that can provide a quick diversion as you conquer a few levels. You can leave the game and come back where you started easily, though it might take some time to get your coordination up to speed to keep up with the harder levels. Obviously, it should be easy enough, but it can get confusing at times. You use your arrow keys to jump, duck, and navigate, changing depending on which direction your rocket is facing. You’ll have to make sure to stay focused to remember what key jumps and what key ducks, and you’ll have to experiment a bit to get the hang of it. It’s not a problem, per se, but definitely can be confusing.

Just flying towards a fan, like you’d expect.

That said, it’s still a very fun game, one I’ve enjoyed playing on my iPod Touch and now on my Mac. If only the Mac version could have shot me straight to my last-completed level from the iOS version, it would have been perfect!

Conclusion

With custom 8-bit graphics and soundtrack, and a cute storyline, The Last Rocket is a compelling game that you should be sure to check out. There’s not much to surprise you if you’ve already played it on your iPhone, but even still, it’s a nice fun 5 minute diversion on the Mac, and if anything works better with arrow keys.

It’s also a great example of how iOS games can be directly ported to the Mac, and still make a very great game. Sure, you won’t be playing Super Monkey Ball by tilting your MacBook anytime soon, but The Last Rocket is a great example of how many iOS games could be brought to the Mac and still work great. With iOS gaming such an active market, that’s an exceeding potential.


Summary

One of the best made modern 8-bit graphics games, The Last Rocket is a successful indie game that made its way to the Mac and shows how nicely small games can work on our favorite computers.

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  • Richard Moss

    This is barely related to the review, but I take issue with the subheading “Macs: The New Indie Game Platform.”

    The Mac has always been a strong indie platform, only we used to call it shareware. In fact, that was pretty much all you could find in the dark days of the late 90s. It’s on the commercial front that things are improving…slowly.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      I added that header, as I was editing it, and should have put it as “Macs: The Indie Game Platform”. You’re definitely right.

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