<Rocket Ranger is a 1988 action adventure computer game developed and published by Cinemaware.
The game’s setting is based in the World War II era, allowing the player to control a US Army scientist and setting out to stop Nazi Germany from winning the war. The Rocket Ranger moniker stems from the Rocket Pack the player uses over the course of the game.
Like many Cinemaware games, Rocket Ranger draws its inspiration from Hollywood, and likely The Rocketeer comics. This title pays homage to the many 1950s sci-fi serials, using the look and feel of the serials, including action-packed cut-scenes and an art treatment loyal to the futuristic visions of that era. It also features the cliché elements of that era, including a dashing, courageous hero and a beautiful, voluptuous damsel in distress in need of rescue.
A Kickstarter campaign for a remake was launched on November 13, 2014 and was fully funded on December 17, 2014.It was officially cancelled in November 2015 with refunds being offered that same month.
To fly from location to location, the rocket pack must be filled with a very specific amount of fuel. Too much or too little will cause the hero to overshoot or fall short of the target, and as a result plunge to his death. The player could determine the correct amount of fuel for a starting/destination pair using a code wheel, the “secret decoder wheel” included with the game.This element of the game was actually a form of copy protection. The idea was that since the wheel was included with the game and couldn’t easily be duplicated, only legitimate purchasers of the game could successfully use the game.
Because the wheel needed to be used for every trip the Ranger made, it got heavy use. As a result, the wheel often fell apart (the front part of the wheel became separated from the back) after several games. The wheels could still be used, but it was more difficult when they weren’t connected. Therefore, some users constructed tables that included all of the codes needed to travel from one location to another. These tables eventually made their way to bulletin board systems and (later) the Internet and used as a tool for pirated versions of the game.
- A different Amiga version of the game exists with invading extraterrestrial aliens being the culprit, instead of German Nazis. This is a localised version for Germany, where references to Nazis and swastikas were not allowed in video games at the time, not even as antagonists. However, the original designs were retained, which raised logical questions about why aliens would adopt German World War II technology and be largely successful with it. This version was also the basis for the NES port, due to Nintendo’s strict content restrictions at the time.
- Between 1991 and 1992, Malibu Comics published a Rocket Ranger comic series closely based on the computer game. In the series, the Rocket Ranger—here named Tom Cory—comes to fight Oberst Leermeister, the German officer who oversees the lunarium operation, personally (in the game, Leermeister was more a background character, although it was possible to come face to face with him, in an interrogation sequence). Only five issues were produced, although the open ending at the end of the fifth volume suggests the planned release of at least one sixth issue containing the climactic end battles.