Boom Boom Rocket Hands-On

Fireworks, classical music, and trippy visuals all come together in this Xbox Live Arcade rhythm game.

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One of the overlooked games during the PlayStation 2 launch back in 2000 was a fireworks puzzle game known as Fantavision. While Fantavision wasn't exactly a revelation, its bright, attractive visuals must have made an impression on the team at Bizarre Creations, the development team behind the upcoming Boom Boom Rocket for Xbox Live Arcade. Part Dance Dance Revolution, part Fantavision, and part Missile Command, Boom Boom Rocket is a trippy, addictive rhythm game with a look and feel all its own.

Part rhythm game, part Fourth of July celebration, Boom Boom Rocket looks unlike anything else on Xbox Live Arcade.
Part rhythm game, part Fourth of July celebration, Boom Boom Rocket looks unlike anything else on Xbox Live Arcade.

The basic goal in Boom Boom Rocket is to explode fireworks. To do so, you must set off color-coded rockets as they move up the screen and approach a target line located near the top of the screen. The rockets reach the target line in synch with the music track playing at the time, and to explode a rocket you simply press the associated button on the Xbox 360 controller as the rocket hits the target line. With a red rocket, for example, you would press the B button; for a yellow rocket, you'll want to press the Y button; and so on. Those who are color blind or new to the Xbox controller face buttons are taken care of, too, as each rocket has a small arrow in it, giving you a clue as to which face button to press.

The game can be played in three difficulty levels. The easiest is simple enough for even rank beginners to find success with, as the rockets come one at a time toward the target line at a slow pace. Crank the difficulty up to medium, and the rockets come quicker and will even require you to press two buttons at the same time. At hard level, well, let's just say we didn't get further than about 10 seconds into any hard-difficulty song we tried.

Adding to the difficulty are the trippy visuals that power the game. First of all, the rockets come from everywhere--sometimes crossing the screen at tricky angles or just sneaking in on the side of the screen--so you'll always want to be alert. Furthermore, the visual that runs in the background of the game is a constantly twisting view of a futuristic-looking city. With the camera panning across the city at one angle, your eyes are easily fooled into looking one way, while rockets stream upward at entirely new angles. When you toss in the various fireworks designs, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the neon eye candy.

You earn points by exploding fireworks, and the more points you earn in a row, the more your multiplier will grow. When your bonus meter (as it's known) is maxed out, you can pull one of the triggers on your controller and go into bonus mode, which will temporarily double your point modifier (up to 16X) and really wrack up huge amounts of points. In bonus mode, the visuals take on a slightly hazy, blurry effect, which makes it that much more difficult to set off the fireworks accurately.

With three difficulty levels, you're bound to find a fireworks party that suits your skill.
With three difficulty levels, you're bound to find a fireworks party that suits your skill.

Boom Boom Rocket will include 10 songs to play to, most of which are contemporary takes on classical hits such as Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," and an especially effective techno version of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." All of the songs were arranged by Ian Livingston, the same composer who worked on Bizarre Creations' Project Gotham Racing 2 and EA's Batman Begins. The choreography of the rockets is tied closely to the beats and chord changes of the music, and because of that, you won't be able to load up your own music and play randomly generated Boom Boom Rocket puzzles. That said, the game will include a visualizer that will let you pump your own music through your 360 as fireworks go off. Other modes in the game include split-screen multiplayer, online leaderboards (but no online play, unfortunately), an endurance mode that will continually loop songs faster and faster...until you die!...and, for the truly uncoordinated, a freestyle mode that will let you set off fireworks whenever you like.

Though the lack of online multiplayer play is a bit of a bummer, it doesn't dampen our enthusiasm for Boom Boom Rocket as a whole. We hope to see additional tunes and more of the trippy backgrounds made available for download after the game is released, and while developers aren't talking specifics yet, it seems like that may be a possibility. We'll keep you up to date on additional information about the game as we approach its release, currently slated for this spring.

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