Rocket League Sideswipe: Duke kids would love to see these cars fly

Over the years, we’ve seen many failed attempts to adapt console or PC games for mobile users. Either the final product changed what was special about the original, or too many questionable monetization schemes were implemented that sucked the fun out of the game. A few managed to pull it off with flamboyance.

Rocket League Sideswipe is one of them.

Rocket League Sideswipe(Android [在 Pixel 6 上查看],iOS)
Developer: Psyonix Studios
Publisher: Psyonix Studios
Published: November 29, 2021
MSRP: Free to play, with in-app purchases

Rocket League Sideswipe sets a new standard for publishers trying to bring their successful PC and console franchises to mobile devices. Developer Psyonix has taken the recipe it perfected in Rocket League and reimagined every ingredient in 2D aircraft. It’s still a fast-paced and intense game of auto soccer, but now there’s a strong emphasis on verticality. The cars in Sideswipe aren’t designed to stay on the ground, as you can jump, boost and fly through the air trying to knock the ball into your opponent’s goal.

The controls are easy to learn, but require a lot of practice to perfect. A digital joystick on the left side of the screen controls the car’s direction, while jump and acceleration buttons on the right will send it flying. Just like Rocket League itself, momentum is the key to victory. You need to be able to see where the ball is and determine how much jump and boost to get your car to hit it with maximum effect. This can be difficult to figure out. My first few games in the lower bronze division of the season were hilarious as me and my opponent dropped the ball a lot. Figuring out how to best utilize the 360° motion available takes time. But now that I’ve put in about 12 hours of play, I’m much more skilled with the ball and often manage to improve the score so much that I’m seeing more opponents sent off than sticking around for two minutes.

Two minutes may not sound like a lot, but any Rocket League player knows that a lot can happen in a short amount of time. I had a few games where my teammates and I came back from the precipice of defeat and narrowly won. On the other hand, I saw opponents chip away at what I thought was a comfortable lead with some clever teamwork and tricky boost jumps. Two minutes is the perfect length for Sideswipe, as it allows players to maximize the number of matches they can play while playing on the train, bus, or on work breaks.

The shortened game length is just one of the changes to the standard Rocket League formula that’s been apparent from the start. Since the playing field is so small, Psyonix decided not to include vehicle collisions in Sideswipe, so you won’t be able to blow up your opponents with well-timed boosts. Speaking of boosts, vehicles will now recharge their limited boost energy whenever they’re on the arena’s floor or ceiling. Finally, the game limits the number of vehicles in a match to two or four in its three available modes: 2v2, 1v1, and 2v2 Basketball. You can play against bots offline if you want to train and study your strategy. But if you really want to level up and unlock hats, decals, and other customization options this season, you’ll need to play against real people.

Since this is a free-to-play game, you can expect to see some microtransactions and in-app purchases. Just don’t expect to see them right now, as there’s no way to spend any real money in Sideswipe just yet. The Rocket Pass for the inaugural Turbo Season is completely free, and all items in the Item Shop can be purchased with coins you earn in-game. Let’s not kid ourselves, this will change as Sideswipe grows, but for now, it’s a great incentive to get people into the game right away. Think of it as the loss leader who fascinates people, as they say in the industry. And I think many, many people will be hooked on this game.

There’s so much that could go wrong here, but Psyonix has definitely pulled off a mobile reimagining of its flagship game. It’s easily the best free mobile game I’ve played in 2021. With great design and superb execution, if you ever find yourself with a new phone under the tree, you should download Rocket League Sweeps Christmas immediately.

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