Rocket Weasel Free Freeze Tag Games
Free (16 level demo, unlock 48 additional levels for 99 cents in-app purchase)
In early March, I was contacted by John Holman, Associate Producer at Freeze Tag Games, with a pitch of their then-new title, Rocket Weasel. They were one of the first larger gaming companies to hit my link, so I was a little breathless after reading the e-mail. I mean, sheesh, these are the people who ported Etch-a-Sketch to Android! At least, that was how I’d known of them; a few minutes on their website showed me they’ve been making games for quite a while for PC and iOS with titles I’d recognized as well.
He’d asked that I check out Rocket Weasel and tell them what I think, and was hoping maybe I’d post a little something about it – he also said he’d possibly set up an interview with their CEO.
Immediately I downloaded the game, and spent some time checking it out. Out of the gate this title grabbed me tight, by sidestepping one of my largest pet-peeves – the dreaded OpenFeint window. From there, I witnessed a brief but well-done scene that told me what was up… and then I kept playing until I ran out of demo levels… and after roughly one minute of mulling it over, dropped the buck to unlock the rest of the game.
Rocket Weasel is a physics-based puzzler, in which you precision-guide Mr. Weasel, master chicken hunter, to the rescue of his beloved students of the craft. They’ve been captured by the farmer, who obviously has a vested interest in preventing young animals from learning how to steal his chickens… but we’re not about to stand for that!
Gameplay is vaguely similar to Angry Birds, but not nearly the same. Yes, you aim a rocket which arcs in the air in order to accurately do what’s needed to rescue the students and snag a few chickens along the way, but in sharp contrast to games of this ilk, the boards are a great deal more interactive. For example, you may need to tap a horse for assistance who’s standing on the level, to give a box a kick; or perhaps tap a warthog to have it blow your parachute closer to where you need to be. Mr. Weasel utilizes several types of rockets throughout the game, which lead to really tricky and puzzling levels, especially when they begin combining layers of difficulty – working out which rocket to use, what order to use the helpers on the screen, and where to aim all together at once can be a very daunting challenge… one that I enjoyed immensely.
If I have to pick a flaw, the game does lack a certain true-to-physics feeling sometimes. I mean, you’ve got a rocket strapped to a weasel, and it feels like it goes a little slow for that. Due to the detail in the graphics (my best guess) it does occasionally suffer from slowdown, particularly on older devices. Back when we spoke in March Craig mentioned that I should put this review off for a while as they’re working on BIG things for Rocket Weasel, so perhaps they’re aware of this and are seeking to improve it, as well as bring extra features/levels for us. Sorry Mr. Holland, I’ve wanted to post this for a long time, so… sorry if it brings you any extra pressure!
This is one of the most well-made games I’ve ever reviewed. I adored the art direction and fluidity of the game’s cutscenes, the sounds the woodland creatures made, the level designs; it feels like Freezetag took a tiny speck of influence from Angry Birds, expanded upon it exponentially, laced it with originality, loveable characters, and rocket fuel, and created a true winner here. Bear in mind that I’m an unpaid, non-compensated blogger; I personally paid the unlock fee for this game. All the nice things I’m saying about it here are genuine, and you should check it out and see for yourself. No paid commercials here, at JUST REBOOT!
(At least, not yet. I can’t promise I wouldn’t sell out for the right price! I like money.)
Once I put the game down for a little while (got to a really tough level), I immediately wrote up a question list and fired it back. Not soon after, I received a response containing all of my questions answered, by Craig Holland, Freeze Tag’s CEO! See our exchange below!
- An excellent and engaging puzzler, which takes any similarities it has to Angry Birds and tosses them out a window early.
- The free 16 level demo is an excellent way to check out the full product.
- Built-in opt-out screen for OpenFeint. YES!
- You get a lot of game for your additional 99 cents.
- Keep reading! There’s an interview below!
What follows is my e-mail interview with Craig Holland, CEO of Freeze Tag Games, which took place in early March of 2012. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!
JUST REBOOT!: Rocket Weasel, the title, the entire premise, sounds like something that comes out of the end of a chuckle-laden roundtable brainstorming session. Who came up with the original concept, and what made you decide to make it happen?
Freeze Tag Games CEO Craig Holland: One of our engineers, Dan Plunkett, came up with the original idea of a weasel with a rocket strapped to his back. The idea for the game in its present form stemmed from a creative design process we use internally that involved a whole team of people. So, it’s really hard to say that any one aspect of the game you’ve played was created by any one individual. It was a true team effort.
JR: Rocket Weasel seems like a concept that would be right at home in a platformer/action RPG game,e.g. Rocket Knight Adventures or even Shantae: Risky’s Revenge. Was this considered, or did I just give you an idea for a sequel? (feel free to use it, I’d play it)
CH: Funny you should say that! Dan loves platformer games…and in the very early stages, he did mention that he thought it would be fun to design a platformer game around Rocket Weasel. However, I, as the head of the creative team, instructed the team that our target platforms are iOS and Android, and platformers are hard to do on those devices. Right away, the team settled on a physics puzzler as the genre because of their popularity among casual, mobile players.
JR: I understand it is generally considered easier to monetize applications on iOS – Was it simple demand, the challenge of it, or another influence that led you to bringing your work to Android?
CH: Actually, from the very beginning we knew that we would launch Rocket Weasel on both iOS and Android. We used the Unity framework to design and build Rocket Weasel, and customizing builds for iOS and Android from the same code and asset base is very easy with their technology.
JR: What were some of the games you (and your team) played growing up that led you to a career in game development?
CH: I can speak for most of the design/development team in office when I say Nintendo is probably the dominant choice. Mario Brothers, Mario Kart, Mario Party – those are all favorites. Legend of Zelda, Paper Mario, are also among staff favorites. My personal favorites go back even further. I am a little older. So, I was a kid when we bought Pong for our television. I had my very own Intellivision console. I played Burger Time for literally hours at a time. And I also played a lot of pinball and arcade style games as a kid as well (SAMI -Surface to Air Missile Intercept was one of my all time favorites and I actually have the arcade game in my garage – no digital parts – all analog).
JR: Your Freeze Tag Team bios on your webpage is one of the most fun ‘About Us’ pages I’ve ever read; it gives the company that very warm, human face and feeling so many out their lack in their PR. You’re all people, with families, dreams, and senses of humor… Is this the image you’re aiming for, or just a by-product of your overall philosophy at Freeze Tag?
CH: Thank you for your observations. That is exactly what we are aiming for. Thanks for taking the time to read those bios. Each bio was written by the individual. We did not have any outside person come up with those ideas. We are a close-knit team, and everyone contributes in meaningful ways to our creative products.
JR: Porcupines that say “Ducky!” What the…??? I’d love to know if there’s a story behind that.
CH: Actually, that is a recording of a small child saying “Yippee!” but most people don’t really understand what the kid is trying to say. The idea is that the baby porcupine is thrilled to be jumping up and down, sort of like a small child jumping on a trampoline. That was the idea, anyway. :-)
JR: Are you all wielding iPhones, or do you have other mobile weapons of choice?
CH: I would say that the office is split 50/50 between iOS and Android. Everyone has a smart phone now (our senior artist finally traded in his old phone for an iPhone at Christmas time).
JR: Any other titles to look out for on the way for Android? Will Unsolved Mystery Club make its way over?
CH: As a matter of fact, we launched Unsolved Mystery Club: Amelia Earhart for iPad a couple of weeks ago. We published it through Big Fish Games. You can search for it on the iTunes store and you’ll find it. But for now, it is only available for the iPad… iPhone version coming soon. Also, an Android version will be coming soon.
In the coming months, you will see virtually all of our older titles coming to the mobile platforms (iOS and Android), plus several new titles that we were working on right now.
(And they have, starting with Victorian Mysteries: The Yellow Room having been released in April on Big Fish Games – deidein)