Rocket Knight Adventures is a 2D platformer developed by Konami for the Mega Drive created during the time of the infamous Mascot Wars. During the early ’90s, Sega and Nintendo were at war with each other, specifically with their two most popular brands in Sonic and Mario respectively. Other companies were aware of the popularity of these games and decided they wanted a piece of the action. So began the Mascot Wars. A whole bunch of publishers and developers started creating mascot games in order to cash in on this craze. Tengen had Awesome Possum, Accolade had Bubsy, Gremlin had Zool and Interplay had Boogerman just to name a few. Now, by and large these games ranged from total garbage all the way to somewhat playable. This was usually due to the fact that these companies seemed to think as long as they had a mascot then they could sacrifice gameplay and all innovation because who cares, the cover art mascot will sell the game. However, Konami decided this wasn’t good enough.
Enter Sparkster, our loveable possum protagonist in Rocket Knight Adventures. Sparkster is a possum in a knight outfit equipped with a sword and a friggin’ jet-pack. That’s right, Sparkster is a possum with a jet-pack. But that’s not all! The game also happens to be an incredible platformer that I’d argue could stand up to some of the great platformers of the time. I never actually played Rocket Knight Adventures back when launched. I played and beat it for the first time this year, which I suppose makes this retroview somewhat of a cheat. Although it also takes away any nostalgia involved in my high regard of this game and allows me to look at Rocket Knight Adventures without any clouded judgement and with that I can tell you that the game is good. The game is real good. You should go buy it and play it as soon as possible.
As I said, the game is a 2D platformer at it’s core but it also mixes in a bit of side-scrolling shooting action for a bit of variety. The controls for both segments are as tight as you’d hope. Very basic stuff involved, a button for jump, a button to slash and if you hold the attack button you can use your jet-pack for a brief second to attack or get around the level. The controls are definitely one of the reasons this game is so easy to love. When you want Sparkster to do something, he does it, exactly as you’d want it. The enemy variety is perhaps lacking a bit but the boss encounters are a blast. A rarity in the genre, in my opinion.
The game looks very nice, Sparkster is well defined in-game and his character design is really cool to look at. The levels are all quite well themed and varied. Stages include a village environment, a mineshaft, a plane and even space! You get to play as a possum, in a knight outfit, with a jet-pack – in space. Did I already tell you to go play this game? But yeah, the game looks nice.
The music in the game is wonderful. I put it up there with some of the best the Mega Drive has to offer, which albeit isn’t a long list. Even so, however, it helps to show what the Mega Drive could do with music. Though the platform was very well known for having worse sound overall than the Super Nintendo, games like Rocket Knight Adventures did the best with what they had and gave a lot of Super Nintendo games a run for their money. I think you should give a listen to some of the music so I’ll provide you with a link here for a preview of what the game has to offer you musically.
It’s not all rainbows and lollipops with our friend Sparkster and Rocket Knight Adventures however. The games difficulty can be a problem at times and although it’s certainly not the hardest game on the Mega Drive, the main issue lies with the lack of any save or password system. It also doesn’t have a level select code in the European or American versions of the game. The Japanese version does however. The game’s length could be a factor for some. Clocking in at about an hour or two depending on how difficult you find it. I never had a problem with it though. I left satisfied after beating it.
Overall, I can’t recommend this game enough. If you’re a fan of platformers, cool looking mascots or just great games in general. You owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of Rocket Knight Adventures and give it a whirl. The game also has two sequels and a reboot which you could check out. Two different versions of a game called Sparkster, one on the Super Nintendo and one on the Mega Drive which are two very different games and a reboot of the franchise simply titled Rocket Knight on Xbox Live Arcade, PSN and PC which released in 2010. I can’t speak for these games unfortunately as I haven’t played them but they’re there if you crave more beyond the original title.
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