Rock Boshers DX’s whimsical set-up imagines Queen Victoria sneaking away from the monarchial monotony of Buckingham Palace for the opportunity to visit Mars. But the excursion turns out to be little more than aruse to enslave ‘Rock Boshers’ the eponymous workers who are exploited to cultivate the red planet’s stony surface. Unsurprisingly, the absconded Queen becomes the focal point for a rebellion, making her way through a succession of single-screen stages which blend action, puzzling, and prioritization.
Following the prologue that establishes the ruler’s taste for Earl Gray tea, cheese, and jammy scones (which become concealed collectables in each level), our Highness picks up her first weapon, a pistol with unlimited ammo. Although RockBoshers DX utilizes both analog stick to guide Victoria and allow her to fire in eight directions, the title isn’t concerned with replicating the speed of modern twin-stick shooters. Instead, the game’s pace harks back to games like Shamus, compelling players to asses the importance of encroaching threats, instead of merely relaying on razor-sharp reflexes to eliminate danger.
Pistol-toting guards initially come gunning for the player, with their angled shots prompting the Queen to take cover behind indestructible walls. Despite its primitive visual output, Rock Bosher DX echoes the firefights of modern shooter, prompting players to send a stream of bullets toward any foes foolish enough to step into the line of fire. Soon, throngs of Martian zombies complicate matters, with hordes shambling and surrounding players in constricted hallways. Sure, the rate of fire might be repressed, but the intensity is elevated, as gamers alternate between targets approaching from multiple directions
Wisely, Rock BoshersDX offers more than just shooting, with each stage tasking players with deciphering the systematic method of achieving success. Some of this is fixed,with players collecting keys which open color-coded doors or interacting with terminals. In other instances, it’s up to players to figure out the easiest approach, often thinning out groups of foes, instead of facing near-certain death by an unmanageable, angry mob. Beyond the basic pistol, the Queen receives additional devices in her arsenal, but each is regulated by power-up which supplies a meager amount of ammo. In execution, it’s all part of the puzzle, as players must determine which targets are best enfeebled by rapid machine gun fire or coal-powered rockets.
For those desiring action, Rock Boshers DX dispenses tense sequence, while puzzle fans might enjoy hunting down the collectables that dot each of the twenty-four stages. Agreeably, there’s also a bit a non-compulsory plot told through dialog of NPCs in each level. These are activated by standing adjacent to a Rock Bosher, in one of the zones deliberately walled off from the procession of enemies.
Players old enough to remember home computing during the Reagan/Thatcher-era, Rock Boshers DX is poised to pluck the harp strings of nostalgia. At the beginning of the game,players are able to select a visual output that replicates the look of either a Nintendo Entertainment System or a ZX Spectrum. And while some of the narrow passageways can be a bit challenging to see on an undocked Switch, the game otherwise performs proficiently. But for those without an appreciation for technological history, many of Boshers’ virtues maybe lost, as the game does have an antiquated aesthetic. Socially, the game’s soundtrack seems to veer from authenticity, with a plucky selection of chiptunes that exceed the humble single-voice output of the ZX.
The Director’s Cut moniker denotes a number of improvements and amenities over the original PS Mobile iteration. The slight pause which occasionally interfered with the flow of gameplay was removed, offering the same smoother experience as the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita versions. Collecting the aforementioned goodies offer more than a reason to revisit previous played stages, with the lure of four mini-games extended to players. Without sullying the surprise, we’ll say this: one of the unlockables offers an engaging demake of a popular Tikipod property. Add this all up and Rock Boshers DX: Director’s Cut is a surprisingly robust package that will undoubtedly charm fans of retro titles.
Rock Boshers DX: Director’s Cut was played on
Switch with review code provided by the publisher.