SimpleRockets adds custom themes and space stations

Satellites, struts and docking ports

SimpleRockets, the 2D space exploration sandbox game inspired by Kerbal Space Program, has recently added a bunch of new things to keep testing your creativity and skill. Available on PC, iOS and Android, the thriving community on Reddit is the best place to discover how to mod, customise and put to good use all the new ship parts available.

A Neil_aldrin design using the Platinum skin

A Neil_aldrin design using the Platinum skin

Besides sadness created by the dodgy iPad build 1.5.5. (now fixed), you can now download the latest version to get a beefy content update with pieces for one of the most demanded features in SimpleRockets: docking! As any rocket engineer worth his Smearth salt, the only reason you would need docking is because you are secretly building a space station of a massive scale. You've read it correctly; the humble SimpleRockets has tweaked its controls and added more ship parts so you can have space stations in your interplanetary missions.

There are new tutorials to help you to get the hang of the new functions, that I can tell you, can bee as tricky as attempting a Smoon landing. I might not be the most dexterous of the players — I was playing on the iPhone — but I swear the "Working with Morons" level is ridiculously difficult. My rule to play SimpleRockets is that I need to complete the challenges before I jump to the sandbox mode, which is the perfect introduction to the new content update.

Computer controls... On!

The most obvious addition from trying the tutorial challenges is the RCS or computer controls. These allow your ship to manoeuvre (that's the legit Brit spelling!) in space without using the main engines. The implementation is very clever, as you still use the direction wheel to point the ship's nose at something and the forward and backwards controls to do smooth reverse. You can benefit from RCS during any phase of the game for general stabilisation but it really comes handy for precision movements and docking while in orbit.

Also essential to build something big up there is the ability to launch multiple ships on sandbox mode. This will get you, for instance, creating a standard rocket for launching purposes, attaching parts of a satellite on the top. Once your Lego part is out of the atmosphere, you'll look for a similar orbit so your satellite parts meet and attach them together using the new docking parts. As you can imagine, this can be incredibly tricky and putting two parts together in orbit will take several attempts.

Designs using struts by BoxGlow and AztecLazer

Designs using struts by BoxGlow and AztecLazer

One of the ways you can fix the eventual errors crafting your mega space station is sending helper rockets to refuel or steer them into place in case they have been accidentally kicked out or the desired orbit. For the explorers out there, you can think of very cool scenarios using Fuel Transfer Mode, such as making a rover docking station where they can refuel and get ready for a planet reconnaissance mission.

While you are having fun just imagining what your next space mission is going to look like, you shouldn't miss the community side of SimpleRockets. The sub Reddit for the game has a lot of players sharing their own designs, which you can import directly into the game if you are browsing Reddit on your iPhone and click on a link. This last update also adds the option to skin your ship parts with some new themes that can be unlocked via in-app-purchase as a DLC download of sorts. The new content on SimpleRockets makes it feel pretty much like a new game, but if you want to try some new looks, this is a nice way to support and thank the developer.