Rocket: Robot on Wheels – Definitive 50 N64 Game #38

The list so far: The Definitive 50 N64 Games

Before the N64, Nintendo already had a long history of producing specially coloured game cartridges, dating back to the NES Zelda games. A few GameBoy and SNES games were also custom coloured, but it was with the N64 that the company really went crazy.

We got yellow carts, blue carts, gold, black, green, and red cartridges, as is the case with today’s game: Rocket: Robot on wheels.

Okay. The story this time is that Dr. Gavin, the owner of a soon-to-be-opened themed park named Whoopie World leaves his orbiting command station to go out for the night. Unfortunately, the doctor’s dream project is overtaken by a plotting raccoon named Jojo, who scatters the necessary park tickets and tokens. As Rocket, a robot on – err – wheel (singular), you must recover the lost items and reclaim the park from the nefarious animal.

What ensues may at first seem like yet another N64 3D platformer – but this game plays very differently. Robot On Wheels relies on clever physics puzzles rather than pure action. You must use Rocket’s Tractor Beam to grab, maneuver, and throw all manner of items, from sheep to screws in order to complete puzzles. Depending on what the game tasks you with, you can also swing, grapple, and smash your way to success. The physics engine that makes it all work was a technological marvel upon the game’s release.

A variety of crazy vehicles are also available in the game – from the “Dune Dog” car to the “Finbot” submersible. Hopping in one of these will allow you to get to new areas or complete missions. They also serve to inject a bit of action into what is often a slower-paced puzzle focused game.

Whoopie World serves as Robot on Wheels’ hub, and it contains seven sprawling theme park levels. Each level is packed with smaller challenges and sub levels to explore, with a vast count of collectibles to pick up.

Collecting park tickets is the main focus. They’re what is awarded for completing major tasks, and they’re what open up new levels. Tokens are also of special importance. Although they may seem like nothing more than an equivalent of Mario’s coins, they’re actually exchanged for upgrades for Rocket, which extend his abilities and allow you to collect more tickets!

Unfortunately, despite its uniqueness, Robot on Wheels does suffer from many of the problems common to 3D platformers of its time. The camera never seems to end up where you want it – even after adjusting it with the C-buttons, and that makes precision jumping a chore. The game’s sprawling levels can also leave players more confused than amused, but that’s a matter of personal taste that comes down to how much you enjoy exploring and collecting.

Rocket: Robot On Wheels’ developer is still going strong. It was actually developed by Sucker Punch Productions. That’s the now Sony-exclusive studio famous for the Sly Cooper and Infamous series.

Let me know what you think of Rocket: Robot on Wheels and the Definitive 50 in the comments section below. Don’t forget to rate and subscribe.

Check back next week for entry #37 on the Definitive 50 N64 games.

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