RetroFaith.net favourites Ratalaika Games have presented another great budget shooter in Rush Rover. Developer Indienova are known for their pixel inspired titles and this one has 8-bit retro nostalgia slapped over it in large doses. From the outset Rush Rover feels like a high quality NES or Master System game, maybe even an early Amiga classic. Available on Switch, PS4, Vita and Xbox now for £4.99.
There is no real story to Rush Rover besides you being a mining robot tasked with cleaning up a horde of nasties after a war. You must stop them before they hack the system and take over the world. The story holds no value but this is all about the blasting action as you move from room to room in a Rougelike fashion. As you would expect the enemies become harder to defeat as you progress and there are sporadic boss battles.
Rush Rover has some unique features that mould together well for an enjoyable experience. Firstly you have a little companion known as a drone that follows you. It has its own upgrades that increase power or attack type. Your drone has limited ammo though, so once it runs out you will need to find some more in a crate. The drone acts independently but does not waste its ammo only firing when an enemy is close by.
You have some little additions of your own to help destroy the robot horde. Extra armour, weapon upgrades and more powerful guns appear as you progress. While the upgrades are minimal you will certainly appreciate the extra health and firepower as the robots become bigger and faster. The other key factor is how you acquire the upgrades. Collecting gems dropped by defeated enemies allow you to unlock the next part of each upgrade. Your preference of upgrade will depend on your playing style but the tech tree is fairly basic.
You start the game with one health bar that can be replenished every so often through pick ups. Lose all your health though and it is back to the start of the game with all your upgrades lost. Rush Rover has random maps generated with each play so no two games can be the same. You progress through a level system broken down into smaller rooms that become increasingly challenging. The pressure starts to ramp up around the fourth level with multiple enemies bearing down on you.
You can not exit a new room until every enemy is destroyed but you can track back to buy upgrades you could not afford in a previous room. The clever teleport system allows you to traverse large sections of map without having to run through every room. The tricky part is remembering which rooms you may have left health pick ups and upgrades in that you were saving for later. The map is useful at times but a little more detail would have helped.
Spread throughout the random levels are challenge locations that allow you to test your skills against a deadly foe in true bullet hell gameplay. You have no weapons but must avoid the bullets with limited hits for a set time limit. Finishing these will reward you with much needed upgrades. Every few levels a boss battle appears and you need to be ready for it. Not having your drone prepped or a lack of armour can make them difficult.
The boss battles are set pieces that move you into the next phase of the game. They are vital for your progression and you are rewarded handsomely for taking them down. They are usually set in large barren rooms with little cover. These moments are the best part of the game and you feel relieved, as well as accomplished, when you defeat one. Defeating a boss is a good gauge of how powerful you are and you will want to track back in search of any upgrades after the long battle.
Graphically Rush Rover is firmly in the 8-bit category. Simple colours and animation with blocked sprites give a sense of true retro. The enemies are bold and stand out against the plain level design and bullets are bright and bold. Your little robot has little more than some blobs of animation but overall this feels polished if a little bland in places. The room design is also simple but scenery can be destroyed or used as cover to help break up the gameplay.
However, audio is a huge let down in Rush Rover. The music is true to 8-bit classics of old but has little variety. You only really notice any change during the boss battles where the music is slightly more intense. Sound effects are weak and you will struggle to distinguish them. A few bleeps here, a blast there is not good enough even when trying to create an authentic retro feel. We would have liked to have heard a few more tracks and effects that distinguished the different levels and guns.
One of the stand out features is its tight, twin stick controls. You always feel as though your every command is being adhered to without any lag. Any mistakes are your own and the simple control scheme makes this hectic game accessible to all. There may not be a lot of longevity but as a budget title there is plenty to conquer in the main game and the challenges. Having a few more guns would have given this a boost but we cannot complain on what is on offer.
If you enjoy pixel budget shooters this will be right up your street. Rush Rover provides intense action with blasting fun throughout. It does become a little repetitive in places but for the price there is plenty of challenge. This title will certainly pass a few hours and make you want to get that NES out of the loft. Perfect pick up and play with a classic format that will appeal to most players.