Rocko’s Quest

rocko-villageSo, I’ve pretty much devoted this month to just getting things off the Stack quickly, chosing games that I don’t expect to take long to play. Success rate so far: 50%. I figure I have just about one more chance before the month is over. Rocko’s Quest, a budget 3D platformer/brawler from 2003, is a natural but risky choice. My first run on this game ended with a consistent crash at a point that I have every reason to believe was right before the final boss fight. I’ve undergone enough upgrades since then that I’m hopeful things will work now, but it’ll be a little while before I know. This is not a game that lets you save whenever you want, so my prior progress only counts for so much.

Rocko is a big muscular half-naked sword guy on a mission to rescue his girlfriend from goblinoid kidnappers. The manual cracks wise about how stupid he is, but there’s really no evidence of this in the game, apart from the prejudices the player brings to it. I purchased this game because it was cheap during a time of my life when that was all it took. And indeed it certainly feels cheap. It’s made mostly of huge polygons that scream “3Dfx” to a gamer of my vintage, and has that budget-title mismatch between what it purports to be and what it is. For example, it purports to be humorous. It’s got a jokey manual and a cartoony hero and comedy background music, but it stops short of actually having anything funny happen, unless you count the simple slapstick of hitting people and having them fall over. (This relates to what I was saying earlier about I Was In the War. I’ll probably return to this point in my next post.)

Also, it seems to want to focus on swordplay — certainly it throws enough enemies at you — but the swordplay is far too simple for that. And I don’t mean easy (although it is that too), I mean simple, in the sense of having few components. There aren’t any special moves, just an attack button that takes a swing in the direction you’re moving at the time. The more powerful weapons tend to be heavy things that swing ponderously, even in the hands of a Rocko, so I find it generally worthwhile to repeatedly step forward when swinging and backwards to avoid retaliation (a maneuver I think of as the Underworld Shuffle, for its utility in the Ultima Underworld games). This technique is effective for every fight in the game, including the bosses.

So fighting isn’t difficult. The difficult part is the traps. Mostly these take the form of something slamming back and forth across a hallway, killing you instantly if you go through with the wrong timing. Moving platforms over bottomless pits also play a role. Instant-death traps like these are the main way the game extends its gameplay: you only have so many lives to expend before you have to start the level over, and the levels are fairly long. The final level was particularly deadly, with some traps that could easily consume a dozen lives for each time I got past it. I remember developing various little tricks to help me get past the traps — moving the camera to make it easier to see exactly how close I could get safely, drawing or sheathing my weapon for the change it made to Rocko’s gait. But since I don’t remember all the tricks now, my current plan is to practice up first by going through all the prior levels at least once. I’m currently up to level 4 of 8.

1 Comment so far

  1. ALI on 19 Jun 2016

    ya game mujy

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