Wavey The Rocket

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Upper Room Games
Release Date: May 7, 2020

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PC Review - 'Wavey the Rocket'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 4, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Wavey The Rocket is a 3D side-scrolling arcade game that merges precision movement with a 90s gaming aesthetic, all set to some seriously funky hip hop.

Indirect character control is not common in video games. It might be something you do with the units in a RTS title and games like The Sims, but most genres grant direct control of your hero. As such, it's interesting whenever a developer tries to flirt with this idea in an unexpected genre, as is the case with Wavey The Rocket.

When you consider that the main character of the game is a sentient rocket, you know that your story is going to be goofy. The corporation known as Evil2, which has pretty much governed the land, has released a new soda to push the competition out of the way and become the sole soft drink offering. Unfortunately, people are being forced to like the stuff even though it lacks any fizz. You play the role of Wavey, a rocket courier that runs a successful business. Fulfilling a request from the moon for some real soda, he tries to stop Evil2's distribution of its terrible soft drink and get some real sodas back on the streets.


Broken down to its basics, Wavey the Rocket is a side-scrolling pseudo-platformer. You barrel through levels essentially trying to score as many points as possible via the coins that you pick up, and your star ranking is determined by those coins, along with the time that it takes to complete the level and the number of deaths you incur. As a rocket, you are in constant motion, and colliding with obstacles will get you killed. Luckily, restarts are immediate, and you don't have to worry about avoiding enemies.

Where the game differs from almost any other title is in its control scheme. Except for the world map where you select a level, you have no direct control over Wavey. Instead, you control a sine wave that Wavey uses as his path to reach the end of the level. You control both the X and Y axes of the wave, and each one determines a different part of Wavey's movement. For example, you can compress the wave so that Wavey is slowly covering ground in one direction, or you can stretch the wave so that horizontal movement is much faster. Growing the wave means that you'll crest and dip at great heights, while shrinking the wave vertically has you cover less area. The only time you deviate from the wave is when you initiate a dash move, which has you ignoring the wave to go forward or backward for a few feet before Wavey commits himself to the wave once more. The dash move is limited to three uses per stage, unless you acquire more chances throughout the level.

The advantage is that the wave's visibility means you know exactly where Wavey will go with every tweak of the wave. The path is apparent, and the coins are often laid out in the optimal path through a stage. It will still take some work to master the controls, with mouse movements and dual analog stick control being equally as responsive but feeling equally alien in practice. This is especially true when you need to manipulate the wave in various directions and in such a short amount of time, and forgetting which movement performs which action causes instant death.


While Wavey the Rocket gives you a little time to get used to the concept, it doesn't take long before it starts to challenge those wave manipulation skills. It starts off simply, with a few stable obstacles of various heights and perhaps a narrow hallway for good measure. It then escalates into labyrinths of obstacles with no immediately discernible pattern and locations where obstacles start to move in the immediate plane and into and out of the background. The boss fights are the only times you'll do any fighting; you try to crash through weak spots to take down the colossal enemies down.

Although the concept is approachable to all ages, the game demands both wit and quick mastery of the controls to get through any of the stages. It may have instant restarts, but the checkpoints are spread out decently enough that death is a noticeable setback. Unless you have plenty of patience on tap and are fine with the trial-and-error nature of the wave manipulation, prepare to be frustrated quite often. The frustration isn't due to the level design, which places the coins in a way to provides a good path toward level progression. The developers also do a good job of making sure that Wavey isn't overly sensitive, so while ramming him headfirst into a wall is going to result in an explosion, scraping by a wall with your body is usually fine as long as you do so while moving away from the obstacle.

If you end up mastering the control scheme and controlling the sine wave becomes second nature, you'll find the game to be absolutely packed with things to do. The main campaign has about 80 levels, and the score-chasing nature of the title means that the star rankings and letter rankings for each stage are motivation to keep you going one more round. Find the three special coins in each stage, and you can replay a more hellacious version of that level to test your skills. Otherwise, there are also a few other minigames, such as playing basketball with wave-based movement.


Presentation-wise, Wavey the Rocket is quite nice. Visually, you're looking at something with polished 3D graphics painted with neon. There are a few times when that works against you, especially when elements of the background come to the foreground to mess with your movement, but it doesn't occur too often. The game can easily reach high frame rates without much trouble. The sound is where the title shines; the music sounds like it was inspired by 1990s-era beats but calmer — almost like chilled lo-fi hip-hop. It sounds awesome and is a nice contrast to the higher-stakes tension that you feel as you manipulate the wave through another set of tricky obstacles and corridors.

Your enjoyment of Wavey The Rocket is going to be highly dependent on how well you adapt to the controls and sine-based movement. Get used to how things work, and you'll find the game to be challenging in a fun way with plenty of bite-sized levels to keep you entertained. Until that happens, though, prepare for some frustration because you'll experience failure over and over again, even in the early stages. If you don't mind that inherent challenge, give Wavey The Rocket a spin.

Score: 7.5/10



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