Review by SR71halo
"After 15 years, Sparkster flies again in a surprisingly fun adventure"
Back in the 16 bit era, when Sonic and Mario dominated the market, there was one game that was extremely overlooked, Konami's Rocket Knight Adventures for the Sega Genesis. This game was probably just seen as another Sonic clone attempt but it really wasn't. The gameplay was pretty unique at the time and it was a lot of fun, even to this day. However, Sparkster only appeared in two sequels and then was never heard from again.....until now. I was very excited that Rocket Knight was getting a much deserved sequel, especially since a lot of other series are getting retro revivals. Now that it's out, after 15 years of waiting, Climax was nice enough to revive the REAL awesome possum in a very worthy sequel.
Ironically enough, the game really does take place 15 years after the first 3 games, in which Sparkster hasn't had an adventure in 15 years in the actual game, that's pretty clever. Prior to this game, the pigs from the original have allied with the possum kingdom and the two species lived in peace. After trying to talk the king out of this alliance, Sparkster's services as the only rocket knight were rejected so he flew away, hung up is jetpack, armor and sword, got married, started a family and settled down. However, in the present day, the kingdom of Zephyrus is under attack by the wolf army so Sparkster immediately slips into his old gear and blasts off to fight evil once more; the wolves and even his old arch enemy, Axel Gear, who has become the new rocket knight and is out to steal Sparkster's glory.
The gameplay keeps it true to the original games. You have your sword which, of course, is used for slaughtering your enemies and there is a separate button used for shooting out fireballs, much like the first game. Of course, like the previous 3, your rocket pack is the key gameplay element. You'll need it to reach certain heights to collect jewels or other items or even to advance through the level. You can also use it to defeat your enemies as you rocket right through them. The direction you push your joystick matters the most as you will need to ricochet off walls to get around certain obstacles easier (and it's entertaining to watch). You can use the jet pack at any time but watch your rocket meter on the top left of the screen. There are many other moves to pull off like hovering and spinning. The rocket pack is a lot of fun to use with new cool moves to pull of and the controls are excellent. Climax has stated that they wanted to give us more control over our jet pack and it really shows.
The game offers a total of 10 levels and only 4 bosses but each one of the is surprisingly very well design and they make great use of your source material. Most of the game is a side scrolling platformer where you just defeat enemies without losing all your health or lives and make your way from point A to point B. You can collect gems to increase your score, which is recorded in the leader boards, and you can collect hearts to heal you or lives. It's hard to even choose a favorite, each level is very uniquely designed offering new challenges as you go. Speaking of which, this game actually can be challenging, mainly the later stages. You have the choice between normal and hard (which just adds a LOT more enemies in each level and bosses take more hits) and you can unlock Gold Sparkster mode, which is like hard mode but you only get 4 hits. The whole game can be finished in an hour but it offers replayability to get playable skins (Axel and Gold Sparkster), better times/scores for the leader boards and even achievements.
One disappointment with this game is it could have used more bosses. The original RKA had plenty but this only has 4. They're pretty standard bosses, just recognize their patterns and hit their weak points. Some of them can be tricky in hard mode but they're pretty straightforward.
Every now and then, if you're tired of platforming, the game has a few flying levels as well. This is a 2D on rails shooter like Gradius, use your sword to shoot fireballs at upcoming enemies and mines and hold it down to release a large beam that can take out more than one enemy at a time, but it will also eat your rocket energy. These flying stages are equally as fun as the platforming segments, it's just a shame that there are only 3 in the entire game.
The game's graphics are in a 2.5D style. They're not bad overall, even the character art has grown on me since I first heard about this game, but sometimes they can be a bit cluttered, although this is most noticeable in the first level. The music is overall not bad, hell the first level of the game is a remix of the first level music in the original. Although it isn't bad, most of it is forgettable.
Rocket Knight will cost you 1200 microsoft points on Xbox Live Arcade and $15 on Steam and the Playstation Network, but anyone who grew up with the original games on the Genesis and SNES will appreciate this retro revival of one of the most under appreciated games of all time. Although not as great as the original Rocket Knight Adventures, Climax managed to remind me why I love the original and have put in enough effort to make this a VERY worthy sequel. Welcome back, Sparkster.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/20/10
Game Release: Rocket Knight (US, 05/12/10)
Got Your Own Opinion?
You can submit your own review for this game using our Review Submission Form.