reviews\ Oct 17, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Rocket Power Beach Bandits - GC - Review

Up until about a month ago, I had no idea what “Rocket Power” was until one Sunday at Grandma’s when my 8 year old, his 8 year old cousin, and my 3 year old stole the remote from me and turned off my NASCAR race to watch Nickelodeon. Well, on comes this goofy looking cartoon based around four characters who were playing street hockey and rollerblading around everywhere they went. The way it was described to me in kid terms was “a cool cartoon where they surf, skate, and get into trouble doing stuff”. Well, now Nicktoons and THQ has brought all of the fun home to the Gamecube for the little Rocket Power fan in your life. 


Rocket Power : Beach Bandits follows Otto, Reggie, Twister, and Sam as they look forward to enjoying their first day of summer break at Ocean Shores skating, surfing, and rollerblading, when they discover that all of the sand has been stolen from the beach … leaving nothing but jagged, dangerous rocks behind. To make matters worse, this means that the annual Surf Classic scheduled to take place has to be postponed, and all of the local businesses, especially the Shore Shack, are in danger of closing down. A stranger is introduced to the stunned people of Ocean Shores, a man who runs a corporation known as Golem Industries … and it soon becomes apparent that Golem Industries has something to do with the weird goings on. It’s up to team Rocket Power to find the clues and solve the mystery in time to save the summer.


While running around Ocean Shores, the game revolves around exploring the four different areas for clues, and talking to the locals about rumors that they may have heard of things that they’ve seen. After talking with someone, it usually opens up a mini game, which can be things like skateboarding against a rival, or finding a certain number of items in a given time period. Now, it’s important to remember that Rocket Power was generated towards the younger gaming audience, since those of us who are Tony Hawk or Dave Mirra veterans will find that this game is WAY too easy overall. Everything in this game revolving around exploration, stunts, or actions is very simplistic, and only the A, B, L, and R buttons are really used. In addition, there’s also an arrow at the top of the screen to tell you where to go next, so it’s really hard to get lost or not figure out what to do next.


Most TV show game titles don’t do very well at all for the most part. Rocket Power, on the other hand, does some pretty good things up front. First off, the different mini game styles gives a decent mixture of things to do, and breaks the monotony of exploration. One minute you may be collecting Netherworld masks for the local weirdo, Eddie, and the next minute you’re in a shooting gallery trying to win a stuffed animal for the spoiled and annoying Mackenzie to get her bus passes to the lake. After each one is completed to win a gold coin by obtaining a certain score, it can be replayed again by itself as a mini game if you’re just not in story mode moment at the time.


Secondly, exploring and looking for clues in a big environment can be somewhat confusing or intimidating, especially to the younger gamer. The arrow that I mentioned before allows navigating to the next point with ease, and sometimes will have then running up ramps or trying to get around a certain obstacle to figure out where to go … since it only points straight ahead and doesn't give any indication of up or down. This can make it a little challenging at times, and on a downside it may get a little frustrating … but not impossible.


There are some things that are going to keep this title from beating out other extreme sports games out there, the first of which is the environments. Basically, they are large and full of little nooks and crannies to explore for various things, but at the same time they seem a little … well, dull. You would expect that a game title revolving around extreme sporting would have plenty of steps, tables, chairs, ramps, or railing to grind or do tricks off of … which is not the case here. Each area has a couple of objects here and there, like benches or handrails, but not a large selection of multiple obstacles to pull stunts off of or link tricks. Since many of the viewing audience for Rocket Power is the same age to have played other more detailed extreme titles, this one may just seem flat to them and may not keep their attention for too long.


Secondly, the simplicity of the gameplay is going to cause some issues for some older kids out there as well, especially if they are used to bigger, faster, and more grown up skateboarding, rollerblading, or biking titles that are available. Things like skateboarding off of ramps contain maybe four different tricks, and each of them is one button press. In addition, the arrow works as a downside as well. Since it tells you exactly where you need to go, it eliminates the need for exploring or maybe talking with other people to get an idea on where to go next. This game is all about finding clues … but all of the finding is already kind of done for you.


Overall, this game will be well enjoyed by any fan of the Rocket Power TV show, since they will be able to burn off hours playing as their favorite team character and guiding them through multiple different tasks and games. Younger gamers out there will definitely have a good time and won’t find themselves getting stuck or frustrated too often. Unfortunately, the older and more experienced younger gamer out there may find this title to be somewhat dull overall, and may put it back on the shelf in exchange for a copy of Aggressive Inline or another extreme sports game. With the holidays coming up, I definitely recommend this one as a rental title before making a commitment to buy, just to ensure it will fit with that special extreme sports game fan on your list.  


Gameplay: 7.1
Lots of mini games to play and unlock. Big areas to run around in can hide multiple different items or objects, and it’s easy enough that anyone can just pick it up and hop right into it. The environments themselves can seem dull and uninteresting, especially for an extreme sports based game, and the difficulty will be too easy for the “older younger” gamer.


Graphics: 8.0
THQ really managed to capture the look and feel of the cartoon here, and each of the characters … PC’s and NPC’s alike … retain their distinctive, roughly drawn look. The areas have a weird cel shaded kind of look to them, and everything is brightly colored … but somewhat bland at times as well.


Sound: 7.3
Not bad. Everything that the characters do has a realistic sound to it, and the voiceovers were done well. The music is a little annoying and kind of repetitive at times, though … since it’s the same tune for that particular area set on a repeat loop.


Difficulty: Easy
Just about anyone who has played a video game can pick this game up and start playing, since only a couple of buttons are used throughout the game. Not much chance of getting lost or losing a life either.  


Concept: 7.0
It was a neat idea to have four kids who run around doing various extreme sports, but it’s all been done before … and done on a little bit of a grander scale.


Multiplayer: 7.5
You can compete head to head with a buddy in one of the various mini games that you’ve unlocked, which can be pretty fun to see who can top the high score or best time.  


Overall: 6.7
While this isn’t a bad game to say the least, and it’s one of the better looking and playing TV show based titles out there, it’s not going to fit everyone’s enjoyment range either. If you have that special someone who is a Rocket Power fan, they will definitely be the ones who will get the most out of this title … but if they already have mastered sports games on the Gamecube or other systems, it might be a good idea to rent it for them first.  

Above Average

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