By Andrew Liszewski
I’ve got nothing against the concept of sequels, sometimes it’s nice to have a new adventure with familiar characters and locales. But when it comes to video games, I prefer titles that provide an altogether new experience. Like say, the experience of being a jockey riding a nearly unsteerable rocket while careening around a gladiator style arena. It might sound far-fetched, but that’s exactly what a game called Rocket Jockey provided. Whether you were simply racing to the finish in the ‘Rocket Race’ mode, enjoying a little deathmatch action in the ‘Rocket War’ mode or attempting to score a goal, or prevent others from doing so, in the ‘Rocket Ball’ mode. (My personal favorite.)
But obviously riding a rocket around an arena while crashing into walls can only provide so much fun. And that’s why the rockets in Rocket Jockey featured grappling cables that could be used to temporarily tether your missile to a wall, pole or other objects in order to ‘steer’ it around the course. It was a very unique experience, but thanks to solid gameplay mechanics, it actually worked very well. But the grappling cables could also be used to latch onto other rockets in order to pull them off course, giant balls which you had to maneuver into a goal for points, or even other jockeys who were unfortunate enough to fall off their ride.
Unfortunately Rocket Jockey had its issues which prevented it from becoming a truly classic title (and dare I say, spawning a sequel) like promised multiplayer that only arrived via a patch months after the title was released, and steep system requirements (yep, those were cutting-edge graphics at one point.) But the fact that there have been several grassroots efforts to remake the game with the Unreal Tournament or Quake engines over the years proves the game has been sorely missed by a lot of us.