Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken

At first glimpse, Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a straight forward old school 2D platform shooter. You take on the role of Hardboiled, a hyper-macho chicken so tough he makes Rambo look like a, well, chicken.

You’re a chicken with a gun and a mission, which is to take out the evil dictator of Albatropolis, a penguin named Putzki. So far, so Rambo, right? Once you start to play, though, you quickly realise that although you have a gun, the combat is somewhat limited. You can only fire horizontally, which seems incredibly limited at first, particularly when penguin soldiers are lurking on ledges above you. However, this deliberate limitation adds more of a timing element to the game – rather than just blasting everything above you then jumping up, you have to do it when the penguin is walking away from you. If they’re not moving, you’ll have to find another route around. In fact, as the game opens up, it generally become less about shooting bad guys and more about figuring out a route through a level. The games adds an extra puzzle element to this with the addition of brain mite grenades, which you can throw at otherwise inaccessible enemies to take control of them, allowing you to flip switches or blast other penguins who are covering your route.

There are also sections where Hardboiled straps on his rocket pack, a jetpack about the size of him, for what the game calls “Jetpaction!”. These segments are great fun, with you dogfighting enemy birds who also appear to have rocket packs, then taking down enemy Zeppelins in a return to the 2D platforming section inside the airship.

To review Hardboiled Chicken just as a fun puzzle platformer with lovely hand-drawn graphics is doing it a disservice, though – the game has a real charm. Beautifully animated cutscenes throughout the game reveal Hardboiled’s past, including an incredibly disturbing one where he, as a chicken fetus is boiled while still in the egg. The cutscenes really add something to the game, and the accompanying music with them, from New World Revolution, works really well. There’s also quite a lot of humour in the game world, from the funny things the penguin sentries say, to the signs displayed around the levels: “No Dissidents In The Furnace”.

Unfortunately, there are a few issues which bring the game down a peg or two, many of which appear to be Vita specific. The developers have added a feature that uses the gyroscopic feature of the Vita to provide a sort of fake 3D view of the 2D world when you move the console around, but it serves no practical purpose, other than to annoy you every time you move the Vita for whatever reason. The rear touchpad is used to aim your grenades/brain mites, and this just makes it far fiddlier than it needs to be, as so many uses of the rear touchpad are. Also, during the jetpack parts, everything is so small on the screen that it’s hard to tell what is you, what is an enemy, and what is an enemy rocket.

Those niggles aside, though, there is one problem which is far worse – a reload time of about twenty seconds every time you die. Twenty seconds looking at the (admittedly pretty cool) loading screen. That’s not too infuriating at the start, but towards the end you’re facing turrets that can kill you nearly instantly. I found myself at one point playing for five seconds, getting killed, then waiting for twenty seconds to reload. Over and over. It’s a shame, and takes away from the games undeniable “one more go” quality when you get to a tricky part.







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