There’s something amusingly contrary about TikiPod’s desire to take the most powerful handheld on the market, and force it to play games that appear to be running on decades-old hardware. Boot up PlayStation Mobile‘s Rock Boshers DX and you’ll swear the London-based studio is trolling Vita owners, as a tape loading screech all too familiar to wrinkly Spectrum gamers slowly heralds the arrival of the title screen – and the chiming chiptune that follows recalls Jonathan Dunn’s classic Robocop theme. For veteran gamers, this is a powerful hit of nostalgia even before you’ve hit the start button.
Your job is to guide your tiny avatar through single-screen mines to the exit lift, firing missiles into the rocks and other obstacles in between. Most stages ask you to unlock the exit by picking up several keys along the way, the collection of which usually results in the sudden appearance of otherworldly foes. As soon as the zombies arrive, we’re firmly in twin-stick shooter territory, albeit in the most cramped of surroundings. Despite the rudimentary graphics, the sheer number of enemies and the troubling lack of space give Rock Boshers DX a pleasingly frantic feel, and that’s before turrets, missiles and giant burrowing centipedes show up.
TikiPod carves out plenty of variety from its rigid template: a rocky treasure hunt where missiles ricochet off giant gems follows a stage where every pickup triggers a fresh wave of wriggling larvae. Fussy collision detection and what can only be deliberate slowdown are perhaps nods too far to the 48k era, yet the developer’s ageing tools have sculpted something that feels surprisingly new. Not bad for what looks like the oldest game on Vita.