Rocket Knight

‘Rocket Knight Adventures’ for the SEGA Megadrive was the platforming Marmite of the 16-bit generation; those who dared to try it loved it, while the rest were happy to leave it in its corner of anonymity. If you were a fan of the original 16-bit romp through the world of Rocket Knight then you’ll be delighted to know that Konami and Climax Studios have not decided to relieve themselves all over your childhood. The graphics have been pumped up, the colourful scenery has been re-rendered and the sound no longer sounds like a dial up modem going through Autotune. If you’re a member of the Rocket Knight cult, go – go now and purchase your little heart out! Those new to this sassy possum with a jetpack, allow me to fill you in.

You control a possum named ‘Sparkster’ who, while not competing for the ‘most epic video game character name in history’ award flies around with his jetpack while carrying a broadsword which can shoot fireballs. You live in a world called Ethorn, in a tiny kingdom called Zephyrus which is desired by all the neighbouring kingdoms of pigs, wolves, and other creatures because of the sheer beauty of the landscape. Meanwhile the King of Zephyrus… wait, why am I explaining this. The game revolves around you controlling a possum called SPARKSTER in a jetpack with a fireball shooting sword – I only wish I could think up something so awesome!

Granted this is a reboot of a series which originated in the days when a whacky, lovable, yet somehow cute and kickass main character was a staple requirement for your game to have any credibility what-so-ever, but Rocket Knight is pure XBLA/PSN gold! The controls are simple, you run, jump, slice, and shoot your way through a series of increasingly difficult and challenging platform stages with the occasional monster boss battle or side-scrolling flight levels to break up all that puzzle-platforming. In fact, the boss battles deserve particular mention because each one is challenging enough to cause a spark to run through your fingertips whenever you see one lurch their way onto the screen in front of your puny possum protagonist, yet at the same time deceptively simple enough (once you figure it out) to not leave permanently indented fingerprint marks on your controller from gripping it so tight with anger.

The side-scrolling shooters are similar to those of the proper ‘Shoot ‘em Ups’ such as Gradius, and that’s no bad thing – because you’re not flying a spaceship – you’re flying a freakin’ possum with a jetpack! Huge boss battles, puzzle-platforming at its best inspired from the 16-bit era when it ran supreme, and 2D side-scrolling shooters with a fireball sword wielding possum at the helm – the downside? The price. I know it’s a petty point, but I’ve noticed that reboots tend to cling onto the higher price tag because they believe the brand new will justify it. Rocket Knight should have been 800, because the cult followers may pay 1,200, but to really get this terrific platformer out there to the new comers – it should have been cheaper.

If you play the trial or demo however and enjoy it, then I can assure you that the full game is well worth the price tag attached. Rocket Knight is one of the few franchises I’m really glad got itself back into the action – I’m even secretly hoping for a non-ruined sequel for the future. I could not recommend a platform game more on the XBLA than I could recommend Rocket Knight, because… because… he’s not the possum they think he is at home. Oh no no no, he’s a rocket possum. Rocket Knight burning out his fuse up here again…


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