Created By: dvorak on October 18, 2012 Last Edited By: dvorak on May 13, 2013

Rocketry Game

A video game about building, launching, and flying a rocket.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Alternate titles: Space Program Sim, Launching Game

Many countries have a Space program. These programs were often fraught with danger and excitement. Not to mention dramatic failures. This is a type of game meant to simulate a space program. However, some of the laws of physics are discarded in favor of Rule of Fun, most commonly falling back to earth when out of gas despite being in orbit or within spitting distance of the moon, and Frictionless Reentry, unless it's hyper-realistic.

There are two main types of this game, ones where the rocket is "Cold Launched"-that is, fired out of a catapult or cannon and the main engine fires later, or "Hot Launched", where it is launched from the ground by the main engine. Both types have Power Ups and money floating about in the sky[[note]]again, unless it's hyper-realistic[[/note]], and various upgrades to buy for both ship and launcher (if applicable). These games are similar to vertical-scrolling Space Fighter Shoot'em Ups, but without guns and you have more leeway in running into stuff-dodging obstacles, nabbing goodies, et cetera.

Usually, the goal is the Moon, sometimes Mars if the game gets a sequel. Very rarely, the goal is simply Low Earth Orbit.

Some games have you acquire the scattered pieces of a downed ship in order to repair it, but while similar, they don't count because they don't involve
  • A: building the ship from a crappy base model to a spaceworthy vessel by buying better modules
  • B: piloting the ship in the hopes of reaching your goal.

Examples:

Cold Launch
  • Meteor Launch[1] A game about a south-seas island boy who finds a sad-looking meteorite and decides to send it back home.
  • Rocket Santa[2], a tongue-in-cheek take on this where Santa Claus wants to give presents to Space Marines on the moon, so he straps on a Jet Pack and climbs into a circus cannon.
  • Orbiter[3], the epitome of the genre in terms of realism.
  • Hedgehog Launch [4] and its sequel, where a third-world country's "space program" consists of a hedgehog (the National Animal of the country, used because "they're hardy and plentiful, and will add a patriotic flavor to the program"), an MMU, and a slingshot, both of which you research upgrades for (Including booster rockets on the hedgehog, so it counts). By the second game, the UN has declared the country's airspace a no-fly zone, so to get around this they fire the hedgehog at trampolines installed down a mine shaft.

Hot Launch

Honourable Mentions


Indexes: Video Game Genres, Simulation Game

Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • October 19, 2012
    Koveras
    I thought this was Too Rare To Trope, but then again, you have five examples... I don't have any myself, but maybe this:

    • In the original Civilization, one of the ways to win the game was to build and launch a spaceship to Alpha Centauri. The victory was only awarded if it reached the destination and the probability of success varied depending on which modules you built.
  • October 19, 2012
    KTera
    • There's Kerbal Space Program, where you're given the task of assembling a rocket that can survive a trip through space.
  • October 19, 2012
    KarjamP
    @Koveras, your example's already covered.
  • October 19, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ It wasn't back when I posted IIRC...
  • October 19, 2012
    spacemarine50
    Does the goal have to be to go up to a certain height? Can it be to go a certain distance?
  • October 19, 2012
    dvorak
    @ Karjam P Like all my YKTTW's, this has Rolling Updates
  • October 20, 2012
    fulltimeD
    I remember a really old (probably DOS-based) computer game from when I was in 3rd grade... this would have been 1994 or 1995. In the game you selected various features of a rocket, such as the shape of the nose cone, and other phsyical characteristics, and then you got to launch it. I don't remember the name of the game though.
  • October 20, 2012
    DracMonster
    • Hedgehog Launch and its sequel, where the "space program" consists of a porcupine and a slingshot, both of which you research upgrades for. (Including booster rockets on the hedgehog, so it counts.)

    Incidentally, you don't need the indexing tag at the bottom anymore, you just add it to that index after you've created the page.
  • October 21, 2012
    dvorak
    ^^ Find out the title and get back to me, PLZ?
  • October 21, 2012
    fulltimeD
    I'll try... it may be difficult.
  • October 21, 2012
    dvorak
    Godspeed, fulltimeD.
  • October 21, 2012
    Someoneman
    I'm pretty sure most of these examples, except the Civilisation one, are called "Launching games".
  • October 21, 2012
    dvorak
    ^I prefer "Rocketry" to "Launching." "Launching" implies this is the same thing as Kitten Cannon or Toss The Turtle.
  • October 22, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Perhaps "Lander" deserves a special mention, for being a game where the objective is to land a spacecraft (the Apollo lunar module) safely on the surface of the moon, using the arrow keys to direct its thrust and alter its speed.
  • October 24, 2012
    Lavalyte
    Pikmin involves collecting spaceship parts.
  • October 24, 2012
    Lavalyte
    The C64 Alf game requires you to collect spaceship parts.
  • October 24, 2012
    Lavalyte
    Rocket Ranger, Commander Keen, Jet Force Gemini, Furdiburb, Spare Parts, D-Cube Planet, Toejam And Earl all involve collecting spaceship parts.
  • October 24, 2012
    dvorak
    ^, ^^, ^^^ Do they involve actually developing, assembling, launching, flying, and/or landing the ships as part of gameplay? That's what this is about, not "X game has you grab Plot Coupons that happen to be starship guts, and the payoff is a cuscene where you fly away home and live Happily Ever After." Although, if enough people vote for it, they could go in the HM section. And by the way, Lavalyte, you can edit your comments, no need to make 3 different ones all saying the same thing but with new suggestions. Just click the pencil icon to its immediate left.
  • November 3, 2012
    Stratadrake
    I agree. Commander Keen is a Platform Game. Jet Force Gemini is a Third Person Shooter, where the "spaceship parts" are merely a set of Plot Coupons to be collected. This is specifically about rocketry simulators (in a loose sense) where building the rocket is the central premise, not narrative glue.

    Which is kinda too bad, because I remember a fair share of late 80's Edutainment games where e.g. solving math questions correctly resulted in building and launching a rocket.
  • November 21, 2012
    cubicapocalypse
    Spore has a form of this. Upon reaching space, you're given the option to either choose a pre-built ship or build one yourself. The design doesn't affect its performance.
  • November 23, 2012
    MorganWick
    Based on the description, a) I don't think Civilization is worth mentioning, and b) I feel like you're making it both overly broad if you're including "hyper-realistic" games that don't include most of the trope's features, and splitting hairs if you're splitting the examples between "cold launch" and "hot launch". But then, I've only played one of these...
  • December 22, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Sorry guys, google was of no help to me in trying to find out the name of that old computer game.
  • December 22, 2012
    dvorak
    [disapointedly snaps fingers]
  • February 8, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^Try You Know That Show.

    Also, have a hat.
  • February 8, 2013
    StarSword
    Cleanup: namespaces, spelling, grammar, formatting.
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