It’s Independence Day! Here in the US, we’re all busy grilling food and celebrating with friends outside. Well, most of you should be outside. I’m not, because I’m posting this for you. I’m passing up deviled eggs and sliders for you guys.
Outside of that, though, I’m playing the most awesome game for the Fourth. Caveat: it’s not made by an American developer. Nor does it necessarily take place in America. Nor is it at all in any way about America. But this game celebrates the most important part of Independence Day: fireworks. Of course, I’m talking about Boom Boom Rocket for the Xbox LIVE Arcade.
Oh, Boom Boom Rocket? You’ve never heard of it? I’m ashamed of you, really. It’s the best rhythm game on XBLA. Heck, I actually can’t think of any others (Fret Nice really isn’t a rhythm game, and no one played it anyway.) Developed by Bizarre Creations (PGR, Geometry Wars, The Club), Boom Boom Rocket puts you in a nondescript futuristic city, tasked with exploding fireworks at the appropriate time to music.
Now, this ain’t your Guitar Hero or Rock Band soundtrack. In Boom Boom Rocket, you’re playing to remixed versions of classical music. From 1812 Overdrive or Hall of the Mountain Dude, you’ve got a bunch of music that, though you might not know the 1812 Overture, or the Hall of the Mountain King, you’ll know at least one of the fifteen (ten in game, five with free DLC) songs.
Gameplay-wise, you’re playing a rhythm game, not unlike DDR (though you can play it with a guitar controller). You’re matching colored dots (or arrows) using the 360 face buttons (or D-pad). As the unexploded fireworks pass a line on the top third of the screen, you have to match up the color or direction and then you make them explode into a shower of light. Once you build up a high enough multiplier, you can unleash a Bonus Run, which makes your multiplier quadruple, and your fireworks create even more massive explosions. But that leaves your combo bar (which will end the game if it empties) almost depleted.
Since this is a Bizarre game, high score perfection is the name of the game. Keeping a combo is important, keeping a combo WHILE also getting accurate explosions as they pass the line is just as important. Unlike guitar games, you are heavily judged by your timing accuracy, the game actually playing more like DDR. Case in point: on the song Tail Light Sonata (Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata), while missing only one note at the end of the song, I only got a B rank, because my accuracy is that bad.
On top of the normal song progression mode, you have an Endurance mode, which keeps you repeating your chosen song until you lose, while always slightly increasing the speed of the song each passing second. It gets incredibly intense after a while. There’s a practice mode, great for those tough songs, and a visualizer.
In the visualizer, you’re able to use the Xbox 360’s custom soundtrack feature to just start playing music, and the game will respond, giving you a custom fireworks show for any song. Fun times: I took a copy of the music to Walt Disney World’s nighttime fireworks show, IllumiNations (sorry, Wishes fans, but it just doesn’t hold a candle [HA HA FIRE PUN] to EPCOT’s nightly offering), and played it over the visualizer, and was treated to a great show of lights and sound that really wasn’t terrible, all things considered.
You should look at picking up Boom Boom Rocket. It’s a holiday, and that summer drought of games (if somehow, Alan Wake, Red Dead, and Crackdown 2 later this week aren’t enough), or you just want to spend a little time making some pretty lights go boom, I could think of worse ways to spend ten bucks. That, or you could go outside and watch some real fireworks. But tomorrow, though. Keep that spirit alive until New Years, and let it all start again!