LEGO Rock Raiders was a 1999 LEGOtheme based around mining on an alien planet for Power Crystals, sporting fifteen sets featuring mining vehicles, other craft, minifigure packs, and a large base set. What it is best remembered for, though, is its two very different tie-in games, one for the PC and one for the PlayStation. Accompanying the games and toys were nine mini-comics, several other comic appearances in LEGO-related magazines, and three young reader books.The L.M.S. Explorer, a Cool Starship tasked with observing and exploring uncharted planets, was damaged by an asteroid field and caught by a wormhole on its voyage back to Earth, and was warped into another galaxy and left crippled and low on fuel. The ship's scanners were still operational, and picked up a nearby planet in the solar system, dubbed Planet U, that was rich in Energy Crystals which could be used to restore power to the L.M.S. Explorer and get them back to the Milky Way. However, Planet U proved to be a hostile place with high volcanic activity, frequent cave-ins, little breathable air, and populated with hostile wildlife, including the powerful Rock Monsters, whose diet consists solely of the Energy Crystals that the L.M.S. Explorer so dearly needs.
The Rock Raiders sets and story overall provided examples of:
Built With LEGO: Not so much. The vehicles and buildings are, as well as the L.M.S. Explorer, but all the monsters on Planet U are either organic or elemental. Slugs and Rock Monsters are occasionaly shown with studs on their backs.
Darker and Edgier: While most of the games and systems made by LEGO are either bright and cheery (e.g. LEGO Island) or at least fairly amusing (e.g. the LEGO Adaptation Games), the Rock Raiders games are on the verge of being some of the edgier products LEGO has made, especially compared to its contemporaries.
Goggles Do Nothing: Axle never once used the goggles he has around his neck. His helmet already has a big visor that covers his whole face, so they're just redundant. Docs also has glasses that are always on his forehead, yet he can read small scanners up close and see objects from across the cavern.
Gravity Sucks: The wormhole at the beginning pulls the L.M.S. into it.
Space Is Slow Motion: After the L.M.S. Explorer is transported to another galaxy, the crew can be seen floating in slow motion.
Space Western: Though one combined with the Asteroid Miners trope. The clothing accessories of the Rock Raiders have several clear allusions to the genre (in fact, a lot of them come from previous LEGO Wild West sets), the planet is a desert wasteland full of unexplored and potentially dangerous territory, the rock raiders themselves are the hard-working genius bruisers of space-themed LEGO sets and the rush for the energy crystals is basically a gold rush IN SPACE !!
Almost Out of Oxygen: Most of the later caverns have a limited oxygen supply, and Sparks will continually warn: "Your air supply is running out!" until you build enough Support Stations to maintain the oxygen levels. The actual Almost Out of Oxygen point is when he starts saying, "Your air supply is running low." and you can hear a heartbeat over the background music.
Rock Raiders will sometimes cut corners over the lava. Or in rare examples (notably on Lava Laughter), Raiders with guns will sometimes chase Lava Monsters right into the lava lake!''
Most (or all) of the time, Rock Raiders won't get the message that the lava erosion has already turned into lava, and they will continue trying to repair it. So they just casually stroll onto a square of lava, grunt in pain, and drop a piece of ore into the lava. And usually get teleported out (read: die painfully).
Rock Raiders have an insatiable hunger, and have a tendency to eat, rather than, say, defend against the very Rock Monsters that are attacking their food station! This can however be prevented by outfitting them with Blaster and then pushing the alert button. All armed Raiders will now move towards any monsters or slugs, or stay where they are if none are around.
When a truck puts too much ore on a building. Then more raiders will put ore on not accounting for the 2-5 extra pieces the truck set down. The building won't teleport until that ore is removed. However, they somehow can't figure out which ore to remove, and even when you directly order them to, they will walk over to the ore and then walk away!
Use Building Studs, since trucks can't carry that. Of course, then they will the throw too much ore into the refinery. Oh, did I mention that the refinery can be overloaded even without trucks? Yes, the Ore Refinery is terribly designed. Often you'll end up with something like two trucks and a Raider throwing ore in, and a Stud that should cost 2 ore will use up 7. Interestingly, this never happens with the Power Station, which means someone on the programming team purposely used a horribly wrong method instead of one that was known to work. Fortunately, all the extra ore goes to the Tool Store. Unfortunately, if you use up all your Building Studs, you can't access any of the ore until you turn off the Ore Refinery. Which means that you won't be able to access any of the Building Studs until you turn it on.
When you teleport out the Raider going to a vehicle, no one will get in it ever again. And sometimes you don't even have to have the Raider die.
When multiple units are going for a piece of ore, often the others who don't get it... will follow the guy who got it with the activity "collecting ore". And the crowd grows. You could have 5 Raiders, 2 Trucks and a Loader Dozer.
If you're trying to build something, the Tool Store will usually decide to dump out some ore and Energy Crystals that can be used for building automatically. However, the next Rock Raider who happens to pick up some piece of ore 20 miles away from your base decides that his ore has to go into that building, even if it takes an hour and even if that building is desperately needed to provide breathable air.
Loader Dozers will frequently drive right over rubble instead of cleaning it up. Apparently, there was some rubble on the other side of the map that got higher priority.
Usually it's rubble near an active landslide.
Rock Raiders are only afraid of lit dynamite if it's going to explode in 3 seconds, so occasionally a Raider will set some dynamite, run away a little, then turn and run towards it, then become scared and run away again, but not quite far enough to avoid damage.
Even if you have a fleet of Transport Trucks to move ore, Raiders will still insist on carrying ore themselves, even though an upgraded truck can carry 6 pieces of ore and drive perhaps 4 times faster than a Rock Raider, without stopping to catch their breath every 100 feet or so.
Rock Raiders aren't the only stupid ones. Many people don't know that Rock Hard has Slimy Slugs, because often they either continually appear from their holes and immediately burrow back into it, or don't emerge at all. Even if your base is right next to them.
Asteroids Monster: Upon their health reaching zero, Rock Monsters crumble into three small Rock Monsters and run away. Ice Monsters crumble into three small Ice Monsters. And then Lava Monsters crumble into three small...Rock Monsters?
Awesome, but Impractical: Vehicle-mounted laser weapons are ineffective at digging, weak against monsters and drain Energy Crystals. And on most levels, you can't even recharge crystals at all.
The Mining Laser is even worse. It's a building, which means you have to build a Power Path up to the wall you want to drill, build it (which can easily take a minute), and then tear it down once you're done drilling. (Because the lasers only have an effective range of a few squares, at best)
As for vehicles, the Granite Grinder. It's a huge bipedal mecha armed with a chrome drill like that of the Chrome Crusher, and it has some sort of purple glowing jet engines on the back. Sounds awesome? Wrong. It takes a minute and a half to drill through Hard Rock. Half the time of the Small Digger, but when compared to the Chrome Crusher, it might be worth saying the Granite Grinder is just a slower Small Digger.
To be honest, pretty much every vehicle aside from the Small Transport Truck, Tunnel Scout, Chrome Crusher and maybe the Loader Dozer, if there's a lot of rubble around, are really just a waste of space. Every drilling vehicle aside from the Chrome Crusher is so slow when it comes to hard rock you might as well just use dynamite until you can get the Crusher. Both water based vehicles may be able to carry cargo, but it's unlikely you'll ever need to cross water and find yourself unable to procure new resources, so you may as well just stick with the Tunnel Scout. And nothing hauls cargo around faster than the Transport Truck.
Many vehicle upgrades aren't particularly useful either. Some are good, such as doubling the Transport Truck's carrying capability and speeding up the Chrome Crusher, but why bother upgrading the Crusher's drilling power when it already goes through hard rock in mere seconds?
Badass Normal: When fully trained, Rock Raiders can actually be pretty badass... but they retain their stupidity.
Construct Additional Pylons: You are only allowed to teleport in 9 Rock Raiders before you have to construct a Support Station. After that, you get ten additional worker spaces for each Support Station constructed.
Convection Schmonvection: The lava doesn't harm items very quickly, and then only if they somehow get pushed into the lava or it erodes under their feet. And you can undo erosion if it hasn't fully eroded yet (and they aren't harmed by it until it does).
The heartbeat sound effect whenever the air supply runs low.
Landslides constantly occurring. They completely cover the ground with rubble, which slows down the Rock Raiders. Almost every mission has them, but notably, The Path to Power,It's a Hold Up, and Rubble Trouble!
Small Spiders will sometimes appear under walls. They make the Raiders slip up, causing them to drop anything they may happen to be carrying.
Bats appear in a few levels. They aren't much of a threat, but give your team members a fright.
Erosions from lava. You never know when they'll start, or where. Sure, Power Paths can hold them back, but only for so long.
Slimy Slugs. They are hard to destroy, and they are short enough to pass right underneath the Electric Fences. They can drain power from buildings if given the chance. In Back to Basics, they are a total nuisance, as you'll see when you play it. Sonic Blasters are the best way to deal with them.
Giant spiders that spit webs, scorpions and snakes (all were able to be re-activated).
Leftover code for a mobile Teleport Pad and a canteen.
Various animations for the Rock Raiders (including saxophone playing), and a different face resembling Sparks.
Different animations for the Rock Monster, such as running in fear, a different eating animation, and... a cross between a Rock Monster and an Ice Monster farting and giggling.
Icons for various unmade vehicles, buildings and animations, such as a tool store resembling that from the 4910 Hover Scout, buildings resembling those from the 4990 Rock Raiders HQ, a Power Station resembling the Docks, blue Energy Crystals, etc.
The Tunnel Transport. It appeared as an object in Frozen Frenzy, yes, but code to make it into a proper, fully-functioning playable vehicle was found and reimplemented.
Unused test levels and an unused wall type.
Some unused sounds and voices that are rather curious.
An In-Game Level Editor.
And too many other things to list.
Continuity Nod: Early concepts for mission objectives referred to things from previous levels.
Empty Room Psych: There are occasionally caverns that contain almost nothing useful in them at all, not even ore. Notable examples include a small late at the top left corner of Breathless, a branched tunnel near the end of the gauntlet in Don't Panic!, and several in the actual Run the Gauntlet.
Frickin' Laser Beams: Laser beam powercells look more like bolts of plasma. Then there are the big "lasers", equipped to vehicles like the Laser Cutters, which can even blow up walls (also they are worthless).
Game Mod: A nice little overhaul called Baz's Mod has been released. It makes all the levels MUCH HARDER. Many other overhauls are in progress as well. That aside, this game has been modded more than any other LEGO game.
Guide Dang It: The third-to-last mission, Back to Basics, has Slimy Slugs respawn endlessly until you either complete or fail the level, which of course makes your mission of collecting forty-five energy crystal nigh-impossible. What the game doesn't tell you is that the slugs don't start spawning until you've collected about ten or eleven crystals, which means all you have to do is disable the "collect crystals" priority before you get too many, wait until you find a large collection of crystals in one area, build a Tool Store next to them and turning the crystal collecting back on. And as far as we know, nobody ever thought to make a strategy guide.
In the whole game, Chief only tells you three times about the monsters in that mission, the other times leaving them to be a nasty surprise. Oh, and one of those three times is a blatant lie.
And in Run the Gauntlet, chances are that the Rock Raider you start with at the beginning hasn't been trained as a Driver, a Sailor, or a Pilot. This makes it hard to use all the vehicles to reach the objective.
Hailfire Peaks: The ice level Air Raiders has a nasty hot surprise in one cavern.
Hammer Space: Sandwiches, shovels and drills can apparently fit in Rock Raiders' pockets. They can also be upgraded to carry a maximum of five tools.
100% Completion: To get to the last level, you have to play through only the levels on the left side. So to beat the game, you only need to play 13 of the 25 missions. If you do beat all 25 missions, a special outro movie is played where the L.M.S. Explorer warps back home...except that you need to get 100% scoring on every level, which is impossible.
I Fell for Hours: Docs and Axle in a cutscene, after getting on the wrong end of a lava flow.
Nintendo Hard: Certain missions are very much like this. Erode Works is the first level the player encounters eroding lava. Since the lava constantly erodes, you'll have to keep checking on the areas you've discovered so far. In Rock Hard, the area you start in is very limited until you drill the walls to make more space. Many walls in that mission are made of Hard Rock, so you'll have to use dynamite or large vehicles. In Hot Stuff, you have both Lava Monsters and erosions to deal with at the same time!
Back to Basics is perhaps the hardest level in the game that pushes all the skills you've accumulated to the absolute limit!
No One Gets Left Behind: Certain missions involve finding lost team mates. One mission in particular, Search 'n' Rescue, is the most noted of these.
Non-Lethal K.O.: Rock Raiders never die; they are safely teleported to the L.M.S. Explorer.
Also, monsters always split into smaller ones that run away.
Oxygen Meter: The game starts off with unlimited air, but as levels go on you run into this danger more and more. A Breath of Fresh Air is the first level in which the player has to deal with this. Appears on the fourth level and then again on the eighth and ninth. Then it re-appears on the eleventh and stays until the last level (except for level 16, Split Down the Middle, just to be nice). And despite the level named Air Raiders, the last level has the worst air supply of all. And a pre-built base so you hardly notice.
Phlebotinum Muncher: Rock/Ice/Lava Monsters eat Energy Crystals, and will destroy your buildings to get at them. If destroyed, the crystals they have eaten can be recovered. Slimy Slugs are similar, except they suck the energy out of them instead.
Slippy-Slidey Ice World: A number of levels take place in an ice biome, which means all the walls and floor use ice textures instead of rock or lava.
Contrary to the trope name, however, your Raiders will not slip and slide on the ice. Indeed, gameplay-wise ice caverns are no different to anywhere else.
Space Cadet: The training missions usually start with something along "Hello, Rock Raider cadet!"
Speaking Simlish: During the cutscenes. Averted during actual gameplay, however.
Spiritual Successor: As revealed in thesetwo Rock Raiders United threads, Data Design Interactive was impressed by the dedication of the PC game's fanbase and is currently working on a Spiritual Successor titled "Block Raiders", which will be taking quite a bit of inspiration from Minecraft. The good news is that members of the original Rock Raiders development team are working on this new game. The bad news is... well, given DDI's post-Rock Raiders reputation, there is some concern that letting DDI make a new Rock Raiders game would be like letting M. Night Shyamalan direct a remake of The Sixth Sense.
Teleporter Accident: A recurring mission hook is that the Explorer's teleporter is malfunctioning due to power problems, resulting in various items being beamed into the wrong cavern. To start, the very first mission, Driller Night! involves a small group having to get back to the base. In Explosive Action, a Small Digger is stranded in a nearby cavern surrounded by hard rock. In Breathless, there is a group of Rock Raiders who must be found. Chief says that teleporting them out would be unwise, since the teleported isn't properly functioning and it's unclear as to where they'd end up.
Those Magnificent Flying Machines: The Tunnel Scout, a single-pilot helicopter type vehicle. Its main advantage, however, is that it can withstand the intense heat of lava and is the only vehicle (apart from the Tunnel Transport) that can fly over lava lakes.
Thou Shalt Not Kill: In accordance with LEGO's (claimed) nonviolence policy, Rock Raiders will stop shooting at monsters and slugs when their health gets down to 15%, letting them retreat back into their walls and holes. Of course, with a laser beam, Rock and Ice Monsters die instantly, and sometimes when using a Pusher Beam the monster glitches and gets stuck, letting the Raider kill it. But when either of these happens, you realize that monsters can't die and just reform into baby monsters that run away. Slugs can rarely be killed without game hacking, but even then they just burrow underground.
Unexplained Recovery: If a Rock Raider's shield reaches zero, he is teleported out, and that individual Rock Raider will not be teleported down for the rest of the mission (noticed more if you upgraded, trained and named your raiders). However, by the next mission you play he's all better! Except there might be two of him.
On the note of removing files, some of the unused sound clips are rather... interesting.
Wizard Needs Food Badly: The Rock Raiders have quartered sandwiches above their head that indicate how hungry they are. The more the sandwich depletes, the more often they will have to put down whatever they're carrying to pant for a few seconds. Earlier on in levels, Raiders have to be fed manually via the select menu, but once a Support Station is constructed, they will return there automatically if they aren't carrying or driving anything and feed themselves once they get down to a quarter of a sandwich.
Unfortunately, getting food overrides any other commands they have been given, meaning that getting a Rock Raider any further than his hunger meter will allow requires you to follow his progress manually, stop him and feed him when he becomes hungry, and reassign his goal until he reaches it. One solution is to put the unit in a vehicle, where hunger won't bother him.
In addition, depletion of a Rock Raider's health lowers his maximum food capacity. Thus, any units with below 25% health become essentially useless, constantly stopping to catch their breath and returning to the base for food, and usually must either be placed in a vehicle or euthanized teleported out.
You Require More Vespene Gas: Mining through cavern walls to collect Energy Crystals and ore is the main purpose of the game, as well as how to build up bases. The final level, Rocky Horror, requires the most number of Energy Crystals of all of them. Fifty, to be exact.
Regional Bonus: More like Regional Different Game. The PAL version has eighteen completely different levels with much more creative (and difficult) objectives, as well as no respawning tools and nasty Lava Monsters. Also, three bonus levels are unlocked when gold medals are gotten for every level, and there are eighteen two-player levels instead of six (though only six are new, the other twelve are recycled one-player levels).
Spell My Name with an S: For an unknown reason, the large, six-legged, fat stone-like creatures were called Rockwhales in the NTSC version, and Rock Whales in the PAL version. No explanation has arisen, and nothing else was affected like this.
Too Dumb to Live: The only weakness of a Rockwhale is water, which (in large amounts) causes them to get soggy and melt into the ground. Almost all the ones that aren't running around... are standing next to water. Waiting for someone to come along with a pusher beam. Which every level they appear in has.