Rooftop Renegade – A speedy and slick Aussie runner

Posted on February 17, 2023

Rooftop Renegade is a new super-slick and high-octane platform arcade game from Adelaide-based development studio, Melonhead Games. The title launches you into a neon-soaked world where your escape from a controlling class sees you sliding, leaping, and grinding your way through a set of boosters, speed pads, and rails. The striking visuals and sense of high-speed fun make for an instantly engaging experience. And with both solo and local multiplayer game modes on offer, Rooftop Renegade nails that excitement and versatility for a few hours before the content starts to wear thin.

We first got to play Rooftop Renegade at PAX Aus 2022 where both its Arcade and Party modes were on offer. Since then, the game has been polished up with its full release beckoning players and luring them in with its tight control schemes and reactive gameplay sequences. It’s a game of precision movements and reading the environment in front of you as you make snap decisions and respond to the crumbling or disruptive path laid before you. Players jump into levels with a hoverboard of initially limited power as your character gets chased and must reach an end point within a given amount of time. The arcade nature of the game means you’ll be chasing high scores and even competing against your own ghost as you revisit stages, level up, and eventually unlock new stages and new hoverboards with increased power.

The gameplay loop is simple yet effective. Having the power to leap upwards, blink forwards, boost ahead, or phase through obstacles gives the player all the tools they need to overcome the threats and terrain in their way. Played on a vertical 2D plane, you’ll often find yourself moving through sets of boosters and rails as you plot your path ahead for maximum speed. It’s honestly exhilarating when it all works together, with just enough movement options to give players a real sense of control whilst never going too far to overwhelm. Much like a rhythm game, looking ahead is key to success and maintaining an internal rhythm as to when cooldowns are about to reset will help you score those S and A ranks mission after mission. It’s not a terribly hard game, though for those looking to be the very best, a high skill ceiling certainly exists with high score chasing likely to occupy those dedicated enough to pursue the venture.

“It’s honestly exhilarating when it all works together, with just enough movement options to give players a real sense of control whilst never going too far to overwhelm.”

The game is light on narrative, which is to be expected, though it makes for a very obvious area of potential improvement. You go from stage to stage in the Arcade Mode, silently progressing without any real sense of story movements. There are 24 stages in total, which took me about an hour and a half before I had beat them all. And even once doing so, no narrative opportunity was taken to round out the experience or provide any kind of closure. Instead, you’re thrown back into the level select screen where you can continue to try and beat your prior high scores and continue to level up to unlock new hoverboards.

Dipping into Rooftop Renegade’s Generator Mode certainly helped to provide new challenges once Arcade mode was complete. Here you get to play through what appears to be randomly generated stages via a seed generator. It all worked superbly and allowed me to continue leveling up my character to unlock new hoverboards without needing to grind through the same Arcade Mode stages time and time again. These generated levels actually really held up against the Arcade Mode stages. They worked flawlessly and created new and enticing levels to enjoy. It did feel as though the scoring was quite generous in Generator Mode, with S scores being handed out like candy at a carnival. Perhaps some further tuning is needed here.

The third game mode is Party Mode, which is a local multiplayer game mode where one player is the runner and the other players sabotage and try to slow them down. Each player gets their own chance at being the runner, with scores compared at the end to dictate a winner. It’s actually a really clever concept and gives the game so much more life beyond its otherwise fairly quick runtime. I got to play this mode at PAX, and even in its unfinished state, I can tell you it was a lot of fun. Unfortunately playing local multiplayer on my PC with the final version was considerably harder. The game is also available on consoles however, which may be the best place to experience Rooftop Renegade to get that couch mutliplayer happening!

“It’s actually a really clever concept and gives the game so much more life beyond its otherwise fairly quick runtime.”

I hope the game’s local multiplayer game mode gets the attention it deserves. With solid controls and an enjoyable and simple gameplay loop, this could easily be where the real magic happens. It also helps to answer questions of longevity, since the solo experience does run fairly short, even if its enjoyable whilst it lasts!

Despite a short and narrative-light Arcade Mode, Rooftop Renegade clearly has a lot going for it. This Aussie-made game is helping to kick off what could be an incredibly strong year for the local game scene and we’re very happy to see it. A blast to play through with an appropriate learning curve that helps you comfortably get in control of all your powers, Rooftop Renegade is an easy win and a big ball of excitement among friends.