It’s been a long time since good old Sparkster had a chance to dust off his armor, fuel up his rocket pack, and sharpen his sword for a big adventure. Retiring into obscurity has been a cruel fate for the poor fellow. Those who spent most of the '90s honed-in on a different speedy videogame critter probably don’t as readily recall the armored marsupial hero of the Rocket Knight Adventure games on Sega Genesis and SNES. While Sparkster never quite rocketed to fame like his main competitor Sonic, the bouncy jetpack-adorned protagonist is back for another go around. His latest outing brings back the high-speed stabby-stabby fun yet fails to fully lift off.
When enjoying a sunny afternoon tending to the farm, Sparkster notices the skies over the possum kingdom of Zephyrus suddenly fill with wolf air pirates, prompting him to grab his gear and leap into battle. This zippy 2.5D platforming adventure has you bounding around sword first to carve up furry wolf invaders, traitorous pigs from the past games, a medley of huge bosses, and your possum nemesis. On his own, Sparkster is a nimble fellow. He can leap, slash, and swing from stuff upside down with his tail. But it’s the rocket pack that makes the platforming more frenetic and interesting. It lets you spin around in place like a whirling blade, zip in any direction, bounce off of walls at angles, and launch fireballs.
Rocket Knight’s creative level designs force you to make good use of the rocket pack to defeat adversaries and solve puzzles. Whether it’s spinning around to drill through cracked walls, quickly zipping through a dangerous tight spot to avoid lava blasts, or vertically ricocheting between moving platforms, navigating each stage affords many opportunities to spazz out with a trail of fire streaking behind you. The game features some intense boss battles that also put your speed and reflexes to work. Altogether, the mix of brawling and light platforming puzzle work is a tasty combo.
As entertaining as Rocket Knight’s jetpack mechanics and gameplay are, the whole experience still winds up feeling pretty standard. When you consider there are only 14 stages, and it really doesn’t take that long to blow through them in a single sitting, the $15.00 price tag definitely feels too steep. If you’re willing to pay the high price for this short 16-bit revival, you’ll get a solid and fun game for your money, but don’t expect to get a lot of mileage out of it.
Jun 2, 2010