Rocket Cars is not the racing game you think it is at home, oh no. It’s a simple free-to-play stunt racer with colorful graphics and an interesting (if potentially divisive) default control scheme. It’s not exactly mobile’s answer to Mario Kart, but it’s not a bad way to pass a couple of hours.
Rocket Cars doesn’t take itself too seriously. Though the terrain on each track is varied, the game’s overall look is quite toy-looking, with bubbly vehicle designs (including a double-decker bus named “Old Chap”) and friendly shades of red and blue.
Conditions for victory tend to vary from stage to stage. In one level, you may be required to simply win a race. In another, you may need to constantly stay ahead of a time limit, or avoid being eliminated by staying out of last place until you’re the last car standing.
Succeeding in Rocket Cars is all about maintaining your nitro boost for as long as possible. Most tracks have nitro canisters littered everywhere, and driving over one (not a recommended action in real life) refills your gauge. You can also keep up your momentum by swiping to perform tricks whenever hit a ramp and go airborne.
Many of the courses in Rocket Cars also have weapons that you can drive over and immediately use against other racers that get up in your grill. These include rockets, which go after the racer directly in front of you, and dynamite, which dispatches cars within a limited radius. Rejoice: There is no equivalent of Mario Kart’s dreaded blue shell.
Illusion Labs has the basics down-pat for Rocket Cars, though the game’s one-handed control scheme admittedly takes some getting used to. You swipe downward to accelerate, and use your thumb to turn left or right. I couldn’t really get the hang of it myself, though there’s still a touch option that automatically handles acceleration while you focus solely on turning left or right, and performing stunts.
Otherwise, there are two significant complaints that can be lobbed at Rocket Cars. First, there’s no multiplayer option. There are daily challenges to take on, but as far as racing goes, it’s you against the AI.
Second, most of the courses stick you with a specific car, and you can’t swap out except to use cars bought with gems (the game’s hard currency). This is a pain in the keister because you have to spend coins upgrading your cars’ speed, acceleration, nitro boost, and other stats. Lavishing time and love on a car only to have it yanked from you is a bit frustrating.
Moreover, upgrading to make each car serviceable requires you to grind for coins. Rocket Cars utilizes an energy system, but thankfully you can watch videos for small refills.
Rocket Cars is a middle-of-the-road racer, so to speak, and motoring down the road while performing simple swipe-based stunts is satisfying in its own right. Just don’t get too attached to any one car out of the free selections, though. Seems like everyone gets a turn. Must be in the cars’ contracts.