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Updated November 20, 2004

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Rocket Fuel Mayhem

"Combat From the Farthest Planets to the Brightest Stars!"

The First Intergalactic War was a dark time for the entire universe, as colonies were either destroyed or completely eradicated. These dark times forced a second offensive from the Xaoonixxu against the Human and Antari federation forces of Earth.

This great war, called the "Rage of Pridromeus", ended with the death of all Xaoonixxu. But with that taste of divine victory, warriors hungered for more battles. The Galactic Space League heeded that call by forming an annual tournament against the remaining, most powerful ships in the galaxy...

Game Review
Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
(Very Good)
The graphics category is where Kentauri's latest space combat game really shines, but it takes more than screenshots to see just how far Kentauri has evolved when it comes to graphical detail. The main ship are rotated and well-animated, placed upon a dynamic background that sometimes features objects in the background and the foreground of the arena. If enabled, power-ups will fly around the screen. With all this on-screen action happening simultaneously, the result ought to look disorganized, but thanks to wise palette choices and a lot of technical polish all the graphics work fluidly without a hitch.

The subtle touches don't stop between games either. The menus in Rocket Fuel Mayhem are vibrant and well-detailed, and during battle the pilots to the right of the screen change facial expressions according to how each round in the tournament is progressing. There's even a brightness setting for gamers with different monitor settings.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
Kentauri does a good job of creditting the music that plays in the background of Rocket Fuel Mayhem, whose credits include tunes from Battle Star Galactica and Blade Runner. The music is well-selected, but sometimes does not load fully, causing some notes in the tracks to be missing. This isn't a major problem, though; the game certainly isn't the same without the soundtrack and the tunes are relatively uncommon enough to make Rocket Fuel Mayhem's atmosphere feel unique.
Gameplay (n.)
The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe
Rocket Fuel Mayhem's gameplay is closest to Atari's Asteroids, Space Duel, or Sami Kyostila's QB game Star Wrek. You play the pilot of a ship, whose options are to turn left, turn right, use weapons, or to move forward. To win each round, you must destroy all enemy ships as they show up in the arena before they shoot you down.

You'll soon realize, however, that blowing up enemy ships is not as straightforward as aiming and shooting. Each vehicle type in Rocket Fuel Weapon comes equipped with a primary and secondary weapon, with the latter often requiring strategy to use effectively. You can also deal damage to your enemy or yourself by picking up random power-ups as they drift across the screen. This becomes tricky since your ship relies on gravity to move downward. Therefore, good positioning so that you can dodge enemy fire, grab incoming power-ups, and develop an offense of your own is essential to victory.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
Good. In perhaps the most deliberate attempt to rack up points in V Planet's Story category, Kentauri includes both an instruction manual and a large encyclopedia of the Rocket Fuel Mayhem universe, including an illustrated, detailed science fiction explanation of the wars that eventually led to the birth of RFM as a sport. The execution is just right; the text is there for people to read, and if elaborate demos were mixed with the in-game action it might just feel awkward.
Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
With a mixture of challenging and casual single-player modes, Rocket Fuel Mayhem is a joy to play alone. The satisfaction of winning the first tournament is very relieving, but trying to win the tournament again using a different ship offers a very different learning experience. The lump mode is also a nice way to vent out frustrations when tournaments don't end up with victories.

What's even better about Rocket Fuel Mayhem is taking the knowledge from single-player mode and applying it to multi-player combat. There's a fairly tight learning curve in Rocket Fuel Mayhem that really shows if you find an innocent, inexperienced QB buddy willing to challenge you in the Galactic Space League. There is room for improvement though-- a tournament tree mode for more than two players would have really rocked.

Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
(Very Good)
The heart of Rocket Fuel Mayhem is the game's single-player tournament mode, and Kentauri gives no mercy in terms of how tight the enemy AI attacks. Each enemy craft will do it's best to capitalize on it's strengths, which in effect takes away from your own advantages. Faster aircraft like Zoomers will use evasive manuvuers, while stronger aircraft like Deviators will use it's hull to crush you. There's no single strategy, regardless of ship, that's completely safe against every possible opponent.

The best strategy to get far in the GSL tournaments is to look at the game's database immediately, and find out which of the game's aircraft has the best stats for your attack style. Each ship has it's strength, whether it's range, hull strength, weapon power, speed, or balance. Every ship will have it's mismatch-- Kentauri had the most success in tournaments using the Dou Pai and the Tomcat, but other ships like the Deviator also have a good chance of winning tournaments, with the right amount of practice.

Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
Maybe it's unintentional, but ever since Dark Quest Kentauri has been taking risks by expanding on game ideas first established in the Atari days; Kentauri's Pong Worz is a progression from Pong, Kentauri's Another World Memory is Atari Concentration with a twist, and now Asteroid/Space Duel has evolved into Rocket Fuel Mayhem. Regardless of the number of new gameplay ideas implemented into one of these updates, there's only so many ways to dress up an old game idea without making the game somewhat stale.

However, it's with this practice of resuscitating old favorites that Kentauri that has brought about their best game so far. No particular feature in Rocket Fuel Mayhem is outright spectacular, but there is a good mixture of challenges (tournament mode), bonus rounds (lumps), and two-player simultaneous action. You'll be hard pressed to find a better jack-of-all-trades from any QB game, regardless of genre.

Rocket Fuel Mayhem Reviewed by Vance Velez

Players 1-2 players
Genre: Arcade/Shooter Game
Rating To solve: 6-8 hours Final Rating: 22/35

To download Rocket Fuel Mayhem (302KB), click here.
wIf you're unzipping this program in DOS, use the -d option.
wTo play Rocket Fuel Mayhem with sound, unzip the file and run "RFMSB.BAT". Otherwise, run "RFM.EXE". 

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Game Summary
Coding Group
Homepage URL
1-2 Players Simultaneous
Final Rating
22 out of 35 points

The Highs: The number of gameplay options tapped by the Extra Modes menu provide great single or multi-player fun.
The Lows: Entering a tournament without shopping around for the ship that best fits your fighting style is like walking into a battle without any ammunition.

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