Review: Rock Boshers DX: Director's Cut (PS Vita)

Review-Rock-Boshers-DX-PS-VitaQueen Victoria's gone to Mars to kick ass and drink tea...and she's all outta tea! So goes the tag line for Rock Boshers DX: Director's Cut, the latest PS Vita/PS4 offering from Tikipod - creators of another recent retro-themed indie title, Aqua Kitty DX.

Set during the 1800s, a young Queen Victoria tires of carrying out her regal duties and decides to stow away on a rocket bound for the red planet, in search of adventure. Straight away, the steam punk machinations of Rock Boshers grabs the attention and when combined with this outlandish plot it is nothing if not original.

Happily though, the mold-breaking doesn't stop there - Rock Boshers is designed from the ground up to look and feel (and sound) just like a ZX Spectrum game; it even starts up with a loading screen straight out of the 1980s. A lot of recent games have used a pseudo-retro art style to fantastic effect - titles like Hotline Miami, Fez and Retro City Rampage have all taken the pixel-art theme from yesteryear and utilised it to create a certain look, but no other recent release has gone to such lengths as those on display in Rock Boshers to really take the player back to another era.

Essentially playing as a twin-stick shooter with puzzle elements, Rock Boshers DX: Director's Cut has the player assume the role of the young royal (cunningly disguised as a man with a pair of trousers and a top hat, of course) who discovers that things aren't what they seem on Mars - as soon as the ship lands she and the rest of the crew are seized and thrown into a mine and forced to work - or as the game puts it - bosh rocks.

Obviously a little miffed at this development, Queen Vic takes matters into her own hands, grabs a gun and tries to escape back to Earth. In keeping with the inspired art style, every stage consists of a single-screened 'maze,' which is populated by NPCs who offer words of advice (or simply admit to stealing scones), and filled with a series of locked doors which can only be opened by the correspondingly coloured key. There are also guards who will shoot to kill, gun turrets (which will shoot to kill), zombies, bugs, invincible giant worms and run-away automated drilling machines.

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The aim is rather simple in each stage - direct your tiny onscreen avatar to activate the doors, collect the scones, cups of tea and pieces of cheese and then get to the elevator to the next level. In certain stages, collecting items will cause enemies to burst through the floor without warning; and in others the sheer number of onscreen nasties all trying to kill you is bewildering.

If my description of the game play sounds deceptively basic, be safe in the knowledge that Rock Boshers gets frantically difficult after a few stages and some will really make you stop and think about what you need to do in the right order to prevent your untimely demise. I mentioned scones and cups of tea, and this all ties in with another aspect of Rock Boshers that really endeared it to me - the fantastic sense of humour and references to other media contained within. There are multiple references to films and other games, but they're very subtle, and the style of this abstract humour makes this sometimes feel as if you're playing Digitiser: The Game at times (which of course, is helped no end by the visuals). Collecting these edible items in each stage will eventually open up a selection of minigames (one of which is a take on Aqua Kitty DX) and this adds an extra dimension to proceedings. Another nice feature is that each level is timed, and your fastest attempts are uploaded to a global leaderboard - this adds yet more longevity to a game that is already bursting with so much to see.

Rock Boshers DX: Director's Cut (Trailer)

Conclusion

As a handheld, twin-stick shooter, Rock Boshers is a fine example of the genre done well; and when considering the fantastic retro leanings, imaginitive story and left-field sense of humour (and catchy soundtrack), I can't recommend this enough. It's also availible on PS4 and Steam, but this type of game is perfect for the Vita's form and sticks - you won't be disappointed if you decide to give it a whirl.

Link: Rock Boshers DX: Director's Cut Official Website


Last Updated ( 10 December 2014 )  

Tom Charnock

A true connoisseur of failed and obscure console hardware, if Tom isn't extolling the virtues of the Jaguar CD's texture smoothing abilities or the Dreamcast's vast array of useless peripherals he's usually on Twitter asking where all the Super A'Can games are.

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