Rocket Knight (Review)

“One of the best platformers available on the market today, and one that all fans of the genre must play.”

I can vaguely recall back in the Genesis days when I first played the original Rocket Knight Adventures. The game was lots of fun and very impressive back in the day, and it’s a shame that they game didn’t receive nearly as much attention as it deserved. Climax Studios and Konami look to change this though with Rocket Knight, a remake/sequel that serves as a potential revival of the Rocket Knight series. So is this Rocket Knight reboot a successful reimagining of the Genesis classic? Read on.

Rocket Knight opens with the game’s protagonist, Sparkster, witnessing an army of wolves invading his home nation of Zephyrus, which is where the possums live. The pigs team up with the possums to combat the wolf threat, but really… The story doesn’t matter at all. This is a platformer after all, and does anybody really play platformers for exciting stories? Not really. They are nice additions, but they’re not vital. Thankfully Rocket Knight keeps the story telling to an absolute minimum, just like the good old 16 bit days.

The gameplay in Rocket Knight is quite good, and playing this game immediately brought back slight memories from the original Genesis incarnation. The player controls Sparkster who is equipped with a sword and jetpack. The sword is used to, predictably, slash down foes. The jetpack enables Sparkster to speed across the screen in any direction, plowing through whatever unforunate enemies are in his path. The jetpack can also be used to ricochet off of walls, allowing Sparkster to reach ledges that would be impossible to reach without using the ricochet ability. The jetpack and sword can be combined together to create devastating spin attacks, as well as a “drill attack” which is capable of destroying obstacles later in the game.

Levels are, for the most part, your standard platformer obstacle courses. Keep going left or right, and occasionally up or down. There are many pitfalls and hazards (lava, electric currents, etc.) to avoid, and the everlasting presence of your wolf foes makes some obstacles slightly challenging to get past. Unfortunately, I found that most of Rocket Knight to be overwhelmingly easy. It wasn’t until the final two or three stages that the difficulty decided to spike incredibly, which I found a little bizarre as there was absolutely no difficulty curve in the game at all.

For the sake of variety, there are a few flying stages thrown in as well. These levels play a lot like standard space shooters such as Gradius or R-Type. Players can shoot rapid shots or charge up one powerful shot instead which typically destroys anything in front of Sparkster. These levels are fairly fun, but aren’t nearly as enjoyable as the ground levels.

There are a few boss fights, but they are nothing we haven’t seen before. Run in for an attack when the boss is temporarily unable to attack, bounce explosives back at them, and so forth. Like I said, the boss battles in Rocket Knight are the same battles we’ve gone through many times before. They’re still quite fun in this game though, even if they’re far too predictable and easy to figure out.

The graphics are pretty nice for a budget title. Rocket Knight is not available in physical form, only as a downloadable title off of the Playstation Store, Steam, or XBox Live. There doesn’t seem to be a Wii release, which is unfortunate because I’m sure that Nintendo’s console could easily handle this game. The graphics aren’t very detailed or extravagant, and could very nearly be last generation. Everything as a whole looks very average in Rocket Knight, but the game has a very charming graphical style that makes it easy to forgive the game for having mediocre visuals.

Equally as charming as the graphical style is the game’s music and sound effects. From the very first opening you are treated to a very epic sounding background tune that really sets the scene for an engaging cartoon-like adventure. The sound effects really aren’t anything amazing, but they still somewhat above average and sound decent. I can’t recall being annoyed or turned off by any sound effects, which is certainly a good thing.

So for about half the price of a full retail game, you probably can’t go wrong with Rocket Knight. It emulates Rocket Knight Adventures’ gameplay brilliantly and is a blast to play. The only other platformer I have enjoyed quite as much as this game over the past several years would be New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Yes, I even enjoyed this game more than LittleBigPlanet for the simple fact that this game nails the old school platforming formula far better than anything else on the market today. If you’re a platformer fanatic, then this is definitely a must try for you!

Final Score

8.3/10

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