Rochard

It's a G thing.

As a species, why have we not invested more of our energy into manipulating gravity? Especially when it's clearly so much fun. Sure, toasters with multiple speed settings are cool, and who doesn't like iPod docks - but if a fraction of the R&D budget of, say, the Ford researchers devoting their energies to new trucks was re-employed in the pursuit of a trampoline with inertial dampeners, or a Nerf gun which fires those foam sticks in slow motion, we'd have world peace by next Tuesday. Just saying.

Whether this was the primary motivation for Recoil Games in building Rochard, or whether they just wanted to make a cool side-scrolling 2D action puzzle game, are not questions I had the foresight to ask while being introduced to the game at a hotel near the Game Developers Conference earlier this month.

But that's besides the point; it is more evidence to support the belief that all good things in games revolve (at varying speeds) around gravity.

You play John Rochard, an astro miner (not a space miner - apparently this is important) who is part of a ragtag, largely unsuccessful mining crew searching asteroids and planets for an elusive element called turbinium.

At the outset of the game, Rochard and his crew happen upon a structure in the middle of their current asteroid that proves the existence of extra-terrestrial life. Unfortunately, after calling in their discovery they are set upon by space pirates (and not astro pirates - which is also important).

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Projectile trajectories are handily marked.

All of which - along with some proudly appalling jokes and silly exposition - comprises an enjoyable pretext for a platform puzzle romp.

Rochard is equipped with a G-Lifter, a mining tool that can be used to grab crates on a kind of electrical lasso and then whip them along parabolic arcs at trajectories determined by the right analogue stick. It's such a simple action, one that's easy and fun to perform.

Grab a crate and then move the right stick and it swishes this way and that through the air until you settle on a direction to fire the object in, at which point you press a button and off it goes. It's not quite playing catch with Dog in Half-Life 2, but it's the same principle - and it's clearly been engineered with the same warmth and playfulness.

The G-Lifter can also be upgraded as Rochard progresses, allowing him to toggle the asteroid's artificial gravity at will. This has the effect of allowing him to hop around with reasonably logical levels of gravity (at least by videogame standards), or, with gravity reduced, to float more slowly and expansively over a greater distance.

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