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Video Game / Rocket: Robot on Wheels

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Long, long ago, in the mists of time, there was a console known as the Nintendo 64. And for that console, a small, fledgling company known as Sucker Punch—yes, the same ones behind the Sly Cooper and inFAMOUS franchises and Ghost of Tsushima—made a brightly-colored, cheerful, 3D, physics-based (!) platformer called Rocket: Robot on Wheels.

Rocket was Sucker Punch's first foray into the video game world. The "plot" takes place entirely within Whoopie World, an intergalactic theme park maintained by one kindly Dr. Gavin. The day before Whoopie World opens, the doctor leaves for a party. He puts his loyal robot Rocket in charge of the park's command center for the evening: He just has to keep an eye on the tickets and tokens, and make sure the park's mascots, Whoopie the walrus and Jojo the raccoon, get fed. It's a suitable task for little Rocket, who's only got one wheel and has to interact with the world by means of a head-mounted tractor beam.

However, Jojo is sick of playing second fiddle. He knocks out Rocket, kidnaps Whoopie, and sends the pristine park into total disarry by dismantling all the machinery, and scattering the tickets and tokens. Now Rocket has to fix the machines, reactivate the rides, gather up all the tokens, defeat Jojo, and make sure Whoopie gets fed (as soon as Rocket rescues him). Suddenly, Rocket's job doesn't look so cushy anymore...

The game is notable for being one of the earlier console games to use a dedicated universal physics engine, with all objects being affected by friction, gravity, and other factors. Since Rocket's main means of attack is a tractor beam, it sort of had to be. Also, it makes for some slick platforming.

This game contains examples of:

  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: Jojo's World is a long obstacle course involving nearly every puzzle and hazard you have seen in every other level in the game.
  • An Ice Person: The only upgrade Rocket gets that isn't related to his tractor beam or his mobility is an ice beam. Useful both on enemies and for creating stepping stones in water.
  • Art Course: "Paint Misbehavin'" is an Ancient Grome level where painting objects, as well as yourself, is a central mechanic to solve most puzzles.
  • Badass Adorable: Rocket is a small robot with big cute eyes who can survive death traps and can shatter robots with powerful throws.
  • Big Bad: Jojo the raccoon. He kidnaps Whoopie and rewires the park into a huge deadly place, all out of envy.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Food Fright's upper level is a massive swamp filled with ghoulies and creeps, while the lower levels are rather cute in their candy-themed...ness.
  • Bleak Level: Night-time of Pyramid Scheme, the sunny and joyful jungle is now wasteland and the now decaying pyramid is surrounded by a moat of lava.
  • Catchphrase: "Yeah!" Note that this is the only thing Rocket says in the whole game.
  • Classic Cheat Code: A list of them is available here.
  • Cool Bike: The Glider-bike. It's basically a gliding motorcycle. With bat wings. Arguably the most awesome vehicle in the game.
  • Cute Mute: Rocket. Except for a few lines of "Yeah!", grunts when getting hit or jumping, he has no dialogue.
  • Death Course: At least one of the tickets in each level will be on the far side of one of these. The run-up to the final boss is a particularly long and brutal example. You'll need every extra Heart Container and ounce of patience you can get.
  • Dirty Coward: Jojo in the last level pleads to you not to destroy his world, but only because you're so close to doing it.
  • Down the Drain: The "Aqueduct" portion of the second world, Paint Misbehavin'.
  • Dreamworks Face: Jojo's personal mugshot, which is featured all around Pyramid Scheme's "night" mode and in Jojo's World.
  • Evil Laugh: The clown guards get a particularly nasty one. Jojo has more of an evil cackle, though.
  • Exposition Fairy: Tinker, who offers tutorial assistance. When you have enough Tokens, he will upgrade you four times total.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The troll you have to feed in Food Fright.
  • Floating Limbs: Whenever Rocket gets teleported back to the main area or to a level, his robot limbs part and swirl to the next area.
  • Ground Pound: The only way to actually kill most enemies. Unfortunately, you don't start with it—but it's not hard to earn.
  • Hailfire Peaks: Every level is some combination of standard elements.
  • Happy Dance: Every time Rocket receives a ticket, booster pack, machine part, or new ability, Rocket will do a flip or spin.
  • Hub Level: Woopie World, which serves as home to the entrances of the six main levels in the game.
  • Idle Animation: He usually looks around and sometimes he even dances to the rhythm of the level music. After he goes out of water, he shakes.
  • Killer Robot: In a sense. Rocket never actually gets to kill enemies like a normal robot would, but instead he must grab them with his Tractor Beam followed by slamming them into the ground. Even then there are a number of enemies this will not work on, such as the robot clowns that have tractor beams of their own.
  • The Last Straw: One task in Food Fright has you feeding candy to a troll. She gets fatter... and fatter... and fatter... then BOOM!
  • Lethal Lava Land: The "Night" version of Pyramid Scheme. Jojo deliberately created it to be messed up.
  • Let's Play: By Good Natured Filth and Dodd The Hammer. In the Let's Play Archive.
  • Level Ate: Food Fright, as the name suggests, has a lot of food in it. Primarily candy ranging from peppermints, to chocolate bars, to marshmellows.
  • Level in the Clouds: The fourth world, Arabian Flights, is a high-tech city in the sky.
  • Mayincatec: Pyramid Scheme. The "Day" portion of the level is a beautiful, South American-esque rainforest and pyramid. The Dark World "Night" portion, though, is a Lethal Lava Land.
  • Minecart Madness: Mine Blowing. Though there's really only one part in it that actually includes minecarts.
  • Monster Clown: Well, it's set at a theme park, so a couple creepy clowns were a given. Surprisingly, the ones in the first level, Clowny Island, aren't as bad as you'd expect, just annoying. Well, unless you're a coulrophobe.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: This type of phrase used three times in Midway. No actual chickens, cats or presidents are harmed in those minigames.
  • No OSHA Compliance: If Whoopie World is meant to be a theme park, certain parts of it seem very... unsafe. OK, so maybe that's Jojo's doing, but the parts that customers were definitely not supposed to enter are still totally unsafe; what about the workers?
  • Pass Through the Rings: A few of the Tickets are awarded this way. They all involve the use of a vehicle (except for one in Food Fright where you pass through them on foo-err, wheels).
  • Pickup Hierarchy:
    • Primary: Tickets
    • Secondary: Health Packs, Machine Parts
    • Tertiary: Tokens
  • Plot Coupon: Tickets and Tokens. Each world, including the Hub Level, has a total of twelve tickets labeled A through L. The Tokens are more common and serve only to get Rocket his four upgrades as well as obtaining a world's L ticket if he collects all the tokens in one level (they do not respawn).
  • Racing Minigame: The goal of some tickets.
  • Springy Spores: A variation. Mushrooms DO help you jump higher, but not by jumping on them—they grab you, and they spit you out to make you jump higher.
  • Tractor Beam: Rocket's main piece of equipment.
  • Variable Mix: A few levels have an "underwater" version of the level music.
  • Womb Level: One portion of Food Fright has you entering the oddly bright and colorful innards of a giant monster machine with your water-craft. Everything inside (even the walls) will damage Rocket if he or his vehicle comes in contact with it.