From the outset, The Last Rocket feels like a game from another age. Its colourful pixel-art, primitive animations, and cute characters inevitably evoke memories of the 8-bit era and will attract many players keen to indulge in a bit of nostalgia.
And The Last Rocket's retro credentials run deeper than just its appearance. Like a lot of 8-bit games, it's rock hard.
A tribute to a previous generation, The Last Rocket is a challenging test of skill that simply exudes old skool charm. However, it would have been better if it had embraced one or two modern gameplay conventions.
Gears of War
This charm is apparent from the moment the app loads, as modern menus are shunned in favour of a more modest, classic style.
With only three menu choices possible, you are thrust into the action quickly, assuming the role of a rocket tasked with collecting memory gears in each level in order to escape a spaceship before it collides with a star.
Numerous obstacles such as fans, moving platforms, and spikes can impede or end your progress, and you have to negotiate these on each level if you want to complete your objectives of collecting the gears and reaching the exit.
Gears are collecting simply by passing through them, although in some levels only the outline is shown, meaning you have to pass through them twice.
Elements such as secret areas and additional security are gradually introduced, ensuring that there's a manageable difficulty curve.
Tapping the screen causes your rocket to blast off in the direction it’s facing, with another tap causing it to reverse mid-flight. To move along a platform you have to swipe the screen in the desired direction, with the same action allowing you to choose your direction if you're stuck in a fan.
Levels can look deceptively easy, but a degree of forward-thinking is necessary on most. Reaching the exit with all the gears is time-consuming, and as the difficulty increases swift movement and multiple changes in direction are required if you are to avoid crashing into spikes or being vaporised by lasers.
Frustration is tempered by the fact that each level resets itself almost instantly upon failure, but eventually the number of attempts begins to grate.
The simple controls works well for the most part, but at times they can be less than precise. Swiping can be misinterpreted as tapping, meaning that instead of moving along a wall you find yourself propelled headfirst into spikes.
In keeping with its old skool theme, the game avoids anything resembling the three-star system so prevalent in iOS games in favour of multiple endings dependent on performance.
Although this provides multiple objectives, the game doesn't let you replay levels you've completed unless you restart, making them very hard to achieve.
This makes The Last Rocket a fairly unforgiving game, but its flaws are easy to excuse. The charismatic retro art style may attract all the attention, but underneath is a challenging game that will take many on a trip down memory lane.