Rocket: Robot On Wheels is a 3D platformer in the vein of Donkey Kong 64 and Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64, and follows the adventures of a robot named Rocket. The game is notable for its physics engine, and was the first game created by Sucker Punch, the developers of the Sly Cooper trilogy.
belongs to a man named Dr. Gavin, who despite apparently having a doctorate, has spent his time designing and funding the construction of Whoopie World, a fantastical amusement park.
As Gavin attends a party on the eve of the park's opening, Rocket is instructed to watch after the park's mascots. Hijinks ensue as Jojo the raccoon, one of the park's mascots, kidnaps the park's namesake mascot, Whoopie the walrus. Jojo escapes Rocket with a well placed mallet to the head and teleportsdown to the park, with Whoopie as his captive. Rocket gives chase and spends the rest of the game attempting to rescue Whoopie by collecting tickets and tokens while trying to fix the various machines of the park.
Like any game that stars a robot in an amusement park, you spend a large portion of your time fighting classic enemies such as: out of control robots, evil robotic clowns, and giant robot bees.
At the start of the game, Rocket possesses very little in the way of abilities: only the knowledge of how to jump and how to hold onto objects with a tractor beam. Over the course of the game, Rocket can gain four special moves. Each move can be acquired by collecting a certain number of Tinker Tokens within the various game worlds before seeking out the repair bot Tinker at one of his many repair stations in Whoopie World. These abilities included:
- Slam Jump (Use to slam/smash objects)
- Rocket Jump (Double-Jump)
- Freeze Ray (Creates ice platforms in water and attacks enemies)
- Grapple (Pick up objects at a distance and swing from distant objects)
Like many 3D platformers on the Nintendo 64, Rocket: Robot on Wheels was designed to include several different collectibles for the player to pick up along the course of the adventure, most of which were necessary for progressing through the game.
- Tickets: Like Super Mario 64's stars, Banjo-Kazooie's Jiggies and Donkey Kong's golden bananas, tickets can be collected within each of the game's worlds and are used to unlock later areas once enough have been collected. There are 12 tickets contained in each world for a total of 84 in the game, with most tickets attainable within the same trip inside a level if the player persists. Upon pausing the game, the player can select which tickets they are missing from the menu to gain a short clue on the ticket's whereabouts.
- Tinker Tokens: Similar to the coins of Super Mario 64 or notes of Banjo-Kazooie, there are a total of 200 Tinker Tokens to be collected within each level. Collect all 200 and the player gains a Ticket, although the secondary and perhaps more important use of the tokens is within the game's hub world, where they can be used to pay for new abilities and upgrades for Rocket. There are three varieties of Tinker Token - silver, gold and purple which earn you one, five and ten tokens respectively, in similar fashion to the different colored coins in Super Mario 64.
- Machine Parts: Collect each part within a world and return it to the machine's control panel to activate a machine. This gives Rocket a ticket and access to a new area that likely contains another ticket.
- Booster Packs: These come in the form of a large, golden atom and are like the extra honeycomb pieces in Banjo-Kazooie. There are two in Whoopie World and one in all other levels. Picking one up will extend your health by one unit immediately.
One of Rocket's more unique additions is that of its vehicles. The player can use these contraptions to travel or solve puzzles. Each vehicle requires a certain number of Tinker Tokens to operate, and excluding Whoopie World, each world has at least one vehicle.
- Dune Dog - The first vehicle of the game, located in Clowny Island. Requires 50 Tinker Tokens to operate. A hot dog car which can be used to race around the island in high speed.
- Hoversplat - The first vehicle available in Paint Misbehavin'. Requires 125 Tinker Tokens. The Hoversplat hovers around the world and uses its cannon to fire blobs of different colored paint at various objects.
- Finbot - The second vehicle of Paint Misbehavin'. Requires 175 Tokens. The dolphin-shaped Finbot allows Rocket to swim through water at top speeds.
- Beamlift - A strange monster truck shaped contraption used in Mine Blowing. Requires 325 Tokens. The Beamlift is equipped with more powerful version of Rocket's tractor beam, able to lift and shift large crates.
- Shag Flyer - A magic carpet with a vase on top for Rocket to sit in, found at the start of Arabian Flights. Requires 475 Tokens. The Shag Flyer can fly through the world, and use is practically mandatory to get anything done.
- Glider Bike - A motorcycle with retractable bat wings found in Pyramid Scheme. Requires 750 Tokens. The Glider Bike is arguably the most difficult vehicle to control in the game.
- Spider Rider - A spider-like boat found in Food Fright. Requires 850 Tokens. A spider vehicle with the ability to crawl over the top of extremely harmful liquids.
Rocket is a smaller platformer than most of those on the Nintendo 64, as evidenced by the 84 tickets to collect and the presence of only seven worlds to traverse, including the overworld
. However, most of the worlds shy away from the typical forest, lava and ice worlds typical of most platformers of the day in favor of more novel themes. These worlds also manage to keep true to the theme of the Whoopie World theme park, in that each world is actually just a smaller portion of a Disney World-like-place. Throughout the game Rocket will go behind the basic exterior of each world, showcasing the mechanical gizmos that keep everything together as an attraction. The levels include:
- Whoopie World - Hub world where the rest of the levels can be accessed from, appears similar in appearance to a circus.
- Clowny Island - A small island containing a few sideshow attractions and a roller coaster. Based off the famous Coney Island amusement park.
- Paint Misbehavin' - A world with Roman-themed architecture, as well a recurring theme of painting things different colors.
- Mine Blowing - A mine with bombable walls housing secret passageways and a minecart ride.
- Arabian Flights - An Arabian-themed city high above the clouds, where one uses a magic carpet vehicle to travel from place to place.
- Pyramid Scheme - An Aztec pyramid situated in the middle of forests and lava; Jojo has created a mirror world of lava and ash to the world's lush jungle.
- Food Fright - A world based completely around junk food, specifically sweets such as marshmallows, candy canes, chocolate and ice cream.
Nintendo Power awarded Rocket: Robot on Wheels the title: "18th Greatest Nintendo 64 Game of All Time."