I am continually impressed that my brain manages to retain so much useless gaming knowledge. I actually remember Rocket Knight Adventures from the Genesis, and even recollect playing it back in the glorious 16-bit days. Konami has resurrected this franchise with a brand new XBLA and PSN title that harkens back to the days when being a mascot with an attitude was a prerequisite for being a platform game. This new update brings back our favorite hero Sparkster and his array of moves but everything else has been updated for the new generation. Rocket Knight is a window to a gaming past where 2D side-scrolling action and a wacky protagonist were a formula for incredible fun.
Just to give you an idea of how insane it was back when this game initially debuted here is the premise. You play as a opossum named Sparkster that wears a jetpack, a suit of armor and wields a sword. As you can imagine platforming is key and Sparkster can hang from ledges by his tail and use his jetpack to leap in several directions or to cross larger jumps. As a stand-alone platform game this formula still works. While he may not have been a household name on the Genesis, the developers have done an amazing job of recreating what made this classic such a cult phenomenon.
Anyone who remembers the original game will be pleased to hear that the challenge is still intact. The game splits off into two modes that allow you to tackle it leisurely without fear of not being able to proceed, as well as a harder arcade mode that tests your skills with limited continues and harder enemies. This is nice for those of us, who simply don’t have the skills we once possessed, or more importantly the time and patience. Climax has done an amazing job of keeping the magic of the original game intact, while still making it accessible to the newer crowds.
This is also where we hit the biggest wall with the game: length. Seriously for $15 you would expect a sizable adventure clocking in somewhere around 5-6 hours, but that is not the case here. You can finish Rocket Knight in one sitting, or just under two hours. That time dwindles even more if you have some skill as the bulk of that time table will be dedicated to some of the more frustrating levels towards the end of the game. This is simply disappointing when compared to the sticker price. I could swallow it a bit easier if the game was carrying the $10 tag, but at $15 it feels just a bit overpriced.
If you can get past that though there is a lot to love about Rocket Knight. First and foremost are the visuals. Redone with a brand new engine and a plethora of colors, this title stands out from the pack of rehashes. I simply love the boss designs as they really are the highlight of the game. Using the 2D mechanic mixed with the interactivity of the 3D locales bring these creations to life on the screen. The game really does stand out when it comes to the way it looks, and is easily it’s most endearing trait.
Rocket Knight is never enigmatic in what it offers. This is a straight up side-scroller from gaming’s past, and it executes that extremely well. While the price tag may be a bit on the high side I still think it is worth checking out if you have fond memories of the original game, or are simply in need of a blast (processing) from the past. Rocket Knight is definitely a well put together game, and one that will entertain you for the short time it lasts.
Review copy provided by publisher.