We don’t know how the gameplay will turn out just yet, but
the story behind Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is stupendous. The hero has
his name because as a little chicken fetus, he was hardboiled inside his egg.
That’s… disgusting, but also sets the proper tone for this 2D action/platformer
which combines cute cartoon art with shockingly gory violence. In the
Rocketbirds universe, authoritarian penguins rule, stomping with their
jackboots any avian foolish enough to stand up to them. Hardboiled Chicken
(yes, that’s his actual name), after witnessing atrocities as a child, grows up
to be a muscle-bound meathead bent on taking down the evil penguin empire, so
he straps a huge rocket to his back, gets himself strapped (with guns that is),
and starts popping caps.
“Popping” is appropriate here because when we blasted
penguins and other evil birds, their heads would explode in a fountain of
blood. A large portion of the game consists of 2D side-scrolling action where
you pepper enemies with your guns and explore by finding keycards and pushing
blocks to reach higher places. We also saw brain bugs, which allow you to take
control of enemies to bypass obstacles, so the game balances the action with
plenty of puzzle elements.
We also played a rocket level, which happens when HC gets to
use his humongous rocket pack, and the game turns into a sort of shoot-‘em-up.
In these sections you have a floaty physics model where you use bursts of
rocket for acceleration and then drift downward when re-adjusting your heading.
We played a mission where enemies spawned from a huge zeppelin and we did a
kind of dogfight with them before infiltrating the dirigible for more on-foot
It’s odd that a light 2D action game with such a goofy
premise would tout its story as one of its strengths, but we watched several
cutscenes which bizarrely evoked something bordering on gravity. The music, by
indie band New World Revolution, helps make the “rise up against penguin
tyranny” theme strangely stirring, and the little detailed touches told without
any dialogue contrast the seriousness with humor the game obviously isn’t
trying to hide. It’s just such a brazenly deranged premise that we can’t help
but admire it – both in the idea of the story and how it’s told. We only played
the game for a few minutes so we can’t say for sure how the actual gameplay
will compare to the striking storytelling, but it seems simple and not super
challenging. Aside from the 15 single-player levels, there’s a separate
10-mission co-op campaign with its own story progression, so for a tiny
downloadable title it may have some decent bang for your buck.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken releases on 10/11 on PSN.
Sep 22, 2011