Part of the appeal of playing a ZX Spectrum in the '80s was how idiosyncratic some of the games were. There was one about tubes of toothpaste battling. Another had you simulating mowing a lawn.
Rock Boshers DX captures this quaint spirit of the Speccy with its story of a young Queen Victoria escaping the mines of Mars.
Along the way, she meets characters with a quintessentially British absurdity to them. And she'll repeatedly mention her insatiable appetite for a spot of tea and jammy scones.
To increase the nostalgia, it's all realised with the retro colour palette and cheerful sound effects of the Speccy. And if that wasn't enough, when you start the game it asks you to insert a tape before screeching old computer sounds at you, just as you might remember.Speccy-tacular
Thankfully, Rock Boshers DX doesn't take its tribute to the Speccy beyond its aesthetic recreation. In other words, it feels like a modern game, for the most part.
Victoria's escape from the mines takes 24 hours with each hour representing a single level. And you can tell that every one of them has been given its due time and attention.
A lot of mileage is found in a small number of elements to vary up the journey from the start to the exit. OK, so quite often you'll have to do crowd control on zombies, rush past gun turrets, and avoid insta-death centipedes.
But there are unique events that characterize each level. That might be driving a tank, losing all your weapons, or interrupting a facility inspection. Oh, and the game's epic triple boss ending is probably the best bit.
This consistent variation gives you a reason to keep playing as you know that you'll be faced with a fresh conundrum to wiggle out of. That said, there are a few times when frustration can set in if you can't quite work out what you're supposed to do.Zed Ex
There were a number of times when I wasn't able to spot a passage that I had opened up due to being overwhelmed by zombies and guards. And as they were constantly respawning, the tight corridors were soon filled up with enemies, punishing you for delaying.
But this is a minor quibble in the long run, and you can certainly learn to accept that death is sometimes a necessary part of progression.
In any case, the challenge increases the playing time of these 24 levels, which you can burn through in three to four hours.
However, there are three snacks to collect in each one, and trying to do so will probably have you biting your knuckles at times. But hey, you gradually unlock arcade mini-games for for your efforts.
They're a bit of fast fun, so it's worth replaying levels to unlock them. But these mini-games aren't going to increase the life of the game by much.Swerve shot
My biggest problem with Rock Boshers DX isn't actually a fault of its own, really. And that's a shame.
This is an 8-direction shooter. It turns out that this format doesn't work so well on the Vita. Trying to aim accurately horizontally, vertically, and diagonally with that tiny analogue stick is not easy.
Quite a few of my deaths came about due to not being able to aim in the direction I wanted to quick enough. Don't get me wrong, it's possible, but when you're under pressure this becomes an issue.
The irony here is that Rock Bosher DX's strengths are found in its retro design while the modern hardware puts it in a slight stranglehold.
Not one that should stop you playing, mind. You can overcome that difficulty by cussing through it if you have to. But it does mean that, if you have the option, playing it on PC or PlayStation 4 is probably your best bet.