In the early days of the rhythm genre, there were a lot of games that simply used the controller. Nowadays, we're awash in plastic guitars, dance mats, microphones, congas, and all sorts of other crazy, expensive equipment. Boom Boom Rocket is, in a lot of ways, a throwback to simpler times. That cuts both ways: The simplistic nature of Boom Boom Rocket makes it easy to pick up and enjoy in brief chunks, but it's also roughly like playing Dance Dance Revolution with the controller instead of a dance mat, which, unsurprisingly, isn't too much fun.
There are 10 songs to play in Boom Boom Rocket and three difficulty settings. As in most rhythm games, icons (in this case, launching fireworks), move up toward a line. The icons can be shaped like arrows or buttons, depending on your preference, and you need to hit the appropriate button on the controller when the icon crosses the line. The closer to the beat you are, the more points you get, and stringing together proper presses builds a combo and a score multiplier. When you get a long-enough combo going, the timing bar starts to twinkle, indicating that you can tap a trigger and activate a bonus run, which doubles your scoring multiplier for a brief period of time. At the end of the song, your performance is totaled up, and you're given a grade, and the online leaderboard, which shows you your combined score across all 10 songs as well as individual scores for each song, is displayed. You can also play in endurance mode, which loops the song over and over again, constantly speeding it up as you play. The number of beats per minute is displayed at the bottom of the screen, and after about two or three times through, most of the songs are played so fast that you'll hardly be able to keep up. Both regular and endurance games can be played with a second player, provided the second player is sitting right next to you. Considering that you're still just competing for score, cutting the screen in half to allow for another player doesn't add anything to the game.
The quality of the music is a huge part of any rhythm game. The 10 songs in Boom Boom Rocket are all updated electronic covers of classical pieces with witty names such as "William Tell Overload," "1812 Overdrive," and "Tail Light Sonata." These updated takes on classical music are pretty cheesy, though they're exactly the sort of tracks you'd expect to hear at a fireworks show. About the only thing missing is some blatantly American anthem, but hey, fireworks are fun around the world, so why pin the music down to one nation? The soundtrack isn't bad, but it's all a little goofy.
Graphically, the game puts on a pretty good fireworks show. The camera spins around a waterfront portion of a city as you play, and when you trigger a bonus run, there are some slightly wilder visual effects. It all looks serviceable, but there's nothing in the game that will blow you away. If you're a huge fan of fireworks, you can set the game up in a visualizer mode, which puts on an automated fireworks show to whatever music you play through the 360's custom soundtrack feature.
Boom Boom Rocket's music makes sense, and the game, overall, isn't bad. But at the same time, mindlessly punching out the button presses on the controller isn't the sort of thing that's going to keep you coming back. Considering that it comes in at the slightly elevated but justifiable 800-point price level, you might find that the free demo has more than enough Boom Boom Rocket for your needs.