Reviewed: May 30, 2010
Released: May 12, 2010
Look up in the skyÖ itís a bird; itís a plane, its old school gaming to the rescue. Okay probably not the quote you were expecting but in the case of my newest review itís fitting. The rocket pack donning Sparkster flies onto Xbox 360 consoles in his latest adventure, Rocket Knight brought to us by Konami and the developers at Climax. For those unfamiliar with Sparkster, he made his first appearance back during the 16bit era on the Sega Genesis. The main character, Sparkster, is an anthropomorphic opossum that fought against Devotindos and his pig army in Rocket Knight Adventures with a sword and a rocket pack.|
Rocket Knight kicks off after the events of the sequel to Rocket Knight Adventures. Our hero has put away his weapons and returned to the kingdom of Zephyrus after 15 years only to find his home is in trouble again; this time from a different foe, and it is up to him to save his opossum-inhabited home from a dangerous wolf army through 14 treacherous levels.
Players traverse through 2.5D levels in two good old-fashioned game styles. The first is your standard platform jumping action complete with raising platforms, conveyers and laser fields. The second play style is that of classic Gradius-style side-scrolling shooters. This mix of gameplay makes for an awesome change of pace throughout your adventure.
As you make your way through the levels you will have to use every trick in the book to navigate dangerous paths and take out your enemies with your trusty rocket pack and sword. Throughout the various levels you will come across switch puzzles or blocked paths that require skills such as Sparksterís Drill Dash, or the short energy projectiles from his sword.
The controls of Rocket Knight are pretty solid and using the rocket pack to navigate the levels and take out enemies is easily my favorite part of the title. You can use the rocket pack to bounce of the walls and even the ceiling if you hit them at a 45-degree angle. This is actually really helpful to find all of the hidden nooks and crannies that hide extra lives, health and jewels.
Rocket Knight features cel-shaded graphics that are vibrant and presented in 720p. The levels are well designed and quite beautiful. I also like the detail on all of the enemies including the oversized bosses like the Forest Shredder. Also impressive is the character work on Sparkster and his archrival Axel Gear, which is really good. The visual effects such as explosions and Sparksterís many attacks are all well done, as are the defeat animations on a few of the enemies.
As the name implies you play a knight so what better way to build on that then to supply the player with adventurous medieval music that compares to the original music from the golden era or gaming. This will definitely stand the test of time and offer players a great composition to enjoy listening to while playing.
Unlike most Xbox Live titles, Rocket Knight is a strictly single player experience. Players can see their friendís scores and times as well as others via the leaderboards, but that is the extent of the Live functionality. Rocket Knight does offer two types of play to enjoy. You can go the old school route and play it with limited lives and try to complete it in one play through. You can stop at the end of any stage and it will keep your progressÖuntil you run out of lives that is. After that itís right back to the very beginning. For those seeking a more casual experience you can play the levels individually and complete the story that way.
Itís nice to see that old franchises are being brought back to new life. Climax and Konami have brought Sparkster to a new generation and I absolutely love it. The gameplay is challenging and enjoyable and I would spend 1200 MS points in a heartbeat for Rocket Knight.