Format reviewed: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
This review originally appeared in Sega Power issue 46, September 1993
If you thought dying was all about agonising pain and the haunting sound of the final scream, think again. The creatures in the world of Zebulos just throw up their arms, smile sweetly and utter a brief but poignant squeak. Paul Pettengale marches off to stab a few of them through the heart.
PREPARE YOURSELF for a shock. Here’s a game that brings a new lease of life to the platform genre. Well, a lease of life that’s been sitting in the fridge for a few days, but it’s a lease of life nonetheless. Yes, Rocket Knight Adventures manages to effectively combine a range of gamestyles – from the frantic shoot-’em-up to the mindbending puzzler – and very entertaining it is too.
Sparkster, leader of the Rocket Knights, defenders of the realm of Zebulos, has seen his master die at the hands of an evil pig called Axle Gear. The land is also under attack from the nearby Empire of Devontindos and, to make matters worse, Axle has only gone and kidnapped the princess of the realm. Drastic action is called for. Sparkster must crush the invasion, rescue the princess – and kill the pig while he’s at it. So off Sparkster trots (or whatever it is opossums do), mercilessly slashing killer pigs, tentacled trains and giant lobsters (to name but a few) from neck to navel with his magic sword. Of course, should things get out of hand, you can always activate his rocket pack and launch the guy skyward out of danger.
The action is great fun and unrelenting, with baddies coming at you from all angles, especially after the first level. They all behave in different ways too and most boast complicated attack routines which aren’t easy to suss out. But the game is challenging in other areas…
When the rumbling terrain gets particularly tricky, for example, you have to employ your rocket pack to avoid the danger zones. (Then again, it’s great at any time for uncovering those hidden bonuses and extra lives.)
The huge sprites in Rocket Knight Adventures, while nothing groundbreaking in themselves, are good enough, and most of the characters (especially Sparkster
himself) are especially cute in a Japanese kinda way. One novel feature about the game is that you can interact with the backgrounds (in other words, jump between foreground and background areas). Unfortunately, the nasties can do the same so you’ll have to be nifty on the pad if you want to survive.
The sound and musical effects, however, are just disappointing – and, ultimately, so is the hectic gameplay. There are two difficulty settings, but the only difference between ’em is the number of lives and continues you start off with. If you play for the first time
on Easy you’ll get at least a third of the way, if not further, into the game. Poor really.
If you’re looking for a new platformer to restore your faith in the genre, however, it’s the best yet – despite the sickeningly cutesy scenario. My advice is to just skip Easy, play it on Hard and enjoy yourself. I know I did.
Final Verdict: 82%
Great looking, loads of gameplay and no two levels are the same. The action is so damn hectic you’ll be at it for a couple of weeks. Not so sure about the longevity after