Rocking Pilot
Gameplay 9
Graphics 7
Sound 8

Rocking Pilot enables players to live out their Airwolf fantasies by taking control of a helicopter and laying waste to enemy armies. The game takes the form of a 2D, top down shooter with colorful visuals and arcade style gameplay. Plenty of mission variety and addictive online leaderboards make up for the relatively short campaign mode and the game is addictive enough that you’ll keep coming back until you’ve earned every collectible. Add to this the low price of the game and you have a title that is essential for fans of the genre.

Gameplay: Fast, frantic and very, very addictive.

Graphics: Bright and colorful, albeit a little cramped.

Sound: Features a suitable rocking soundtrack

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Rocking Pilot

Developer: Gungrounds | Publisher: Mad Head Games | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Action / Shooter / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

In the world of Rocking Pilot war has become so common that it is the main source of entertainment for television addicts. It has also become a great source of revenue for WYNC Studio 1, who broadcasts the conflict to the bored masses. However, one person has had enough of the senseless mayhem and enters the fray with only his helicopter to put a stop to it once and for all. Known only as “The Pilot”, he is on a mission to eradicate the enemy armies and bring peace to the globe.

Rocking Pilot is a twin stick shooter that is big on action, but doesn’t take itself very seriously. It is a title that draws its inspiration from arcade classics where story was secondary to blowing up as many things as possible as quickly as possible. This single screen shooter puts you in the seat of a helicopter pilot that, against all odds, must eradicate the legions of enemies who are all intent on his destruction. Fortunately, the helicopter is a whirling machine of death that is able to pull off a couple of neat tricks. In addition to hurling hot lead at anything in your path, the rotor blades of your helicopter can also slice up tanks and soldiers. Obviously this must be done in such a way that you don’t fly straight into their bullets, which is where your “overdrive” ability comes in handy. When activated, overdrive actually deflects bullets back at enemies, which is a great way to get out of a tight spot and makes chopping up enemies even easier. As useful as it is, overdrive is not infinite, so care must be taken to use it only when absolutely necessary and then to stay out of harms way until it has recharged for another go.

Initially, your pilot only has access to a limited amount of special weapons, which are activated by defeating enemies and then collecting the glowing orbs that they leave behind. Once you have collected enough of these a power-up spawns in the arena. These only last for a short while, but can really change the tide of the battle if used correctly. Completing the missions, of which there are 42 that are spread across four worlds, earns you trophies, crowns and skulls. These in turn unlock new score missions, survival challenges and, most importantly, upgrades your power-ups. Eventually you’ll be able to take on enemies with everything from shotguns and lasers to missiles and even nukes. Upgrades extend to your rotors as well, with perks such as earning points when deflecting bullets. While points might not seem particularly important during the story campaign, you’ll definitely appreciate them when playing the addictive online score challenges to climb the leaderboards. This also means that while the main story campaign can be completed relatively quickly, the online challenges will keep you coming back for more.

Rocking Pilot employs colorful 2D visuals to depict the action, which further adds to its arcade feel. The game doesn’t have a lot of video options, but then again, it doesn’t really need them. You are limited to toggling full-screen or windowed mode, enabling or disabling v-sync, and and adjusting the scanline percentage. The 2D sprites are all colorful and clear to see, but the arenas can feel a little cramped. This is not necessarily a bad thing though, as it just makes the pace of the game feel even more frantic. The game isn’t afraid to throw loads of bullets and explosions at you, so at times you’ll hardly be able to see your helicopter amidst all the mayhem. Between levels, there are also some nice story sequences featuring a host of wacky characters, which drives the plot forward. It’s all pretty goofy, but the story of a lone pilot taking on the world (and more) is entertaining. The game features some nice designs for the various foes you face off against as well, including some big bosses, with our only gripe being the rather strange look of troops. However, this didn’t influence our enjoyment of the game much and it is something that the developers will apparently address in a future update along with the cramped look of the arenas. Speaking of updates, the developers have been rather diligent with these and have already released a few to address concerns from players.

Rocking Pilot also lives up to its name with a rocking soundtrack that kicks in the minute you boot up the game and keeps it up until you quit. The soundtrack is loud and just as frantic as you would expect from a top down shooter. A recent update also added two new music tracks, for credits and dialog, to the game to provide some extra variety. Music and sound effect volume levels can be adjusted independently and, in addition to the booming explosions, the game also throws out some random speech snippets when you trigger certain actions or bite the dust. The controls are very responsive and we had no problem playing using a keyboard and mouse combination or a controller. Since you only have two buttons to worry about, one for shooting and one for activating overdrive, the controls are easy to manage and very intuitive.

As we mentioned earlier, completing the main campaign of Rocking Pilot doesn’t take very long, but this doesn’t mean the game doesn’t have a lot of replay value. Earning every trophy, skull and crown in the game will keep most players busy for hours and the online leaderboards also offer a great incentive to come back for more. As for the gameplay itself, it is refreshing that not every mission requires you to simply blast everything in sight. Sometimes you are tasked with rescuing friendlies, survive a certain amount of time without firing, kill enemies using only your rotor as well as many other challenges. From rescuing hostages without using overdrive to collecting pickups without shooting, these challenges mixes things up and keeps the gameplay varied. The game is quite fast paced and offers a nice challenge, but because of the arena style gameplay and how quickly you can jump back into the action if you fail, it never feels unfair. It is also very reasonably price, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. Anyone who is even remotely a fan of the genre should definitely jump at the chance to add Rocking Pilot to their library.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8/Windows 10
  • Processor: 1.5 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Graphics card with DirectX 9 level (shader model 2.0) capabilities
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • Storage: 692 MB available space
  • OS: Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8/Windows 10
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Graphics card with DirectX 9 level (shader model 2.0) capabilities
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • Storage: 692 MB available space
  • OS: 10.6
  • Processor: 1.5 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Graphics card with OpenGL 2.0 level capabilities
  • Storage: 692 MB available space
  • OS: 10.9-10.11
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Graphics card with OpenGL 2.0 level capabilities
  • Storage: 692 MB available space

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