Up in the air! It's a bird... it's a plane... it's Sparkster!
Rocket Knight, released on XBox Live Arcade by Climax Games, is the latest in the adventures of Sparkster the Opossum and a revival of the classic Rocket Knight side scrollers that were released for the Genesis and eventually the SNES way back in the day!
Sparkster is the hero in this little side-scrolling "2.5D" platformer where he takes on droves of evil pigs and wolves in what seems like an attempt to save his people. Armed with his trusty jetpack, and sword, he makes his way through 14 stages of baddies and bosses in both your typical side scrolling levels and some cool flying levels where Sparkster takes to the air and flys into combat against wolves on hand gliders, flying boats and pigs armed with rocket launchers. You have a full arsenal of attacks at your disposal including a flying drill attack which you can use to bounce off walls and reach higher points or shoot projectiles or just plain old swipe away with your sword.
The difficulty levels in the game varied, aside from the fact there are easy and hard settings. When I first started playing I was having a pretty easy go of it, but that quickly changed when I hit the first boss level and depleted my lives and some continues. I found the fight pretty gimmicky and ended up having to sit in a corner deflecting bombs till 4 hit him. Now I'm far from an ace at these games, but what went from a kids' game quickly changed into a pretty challenging sequence, then back to child's play again. This happens a few times in the game where the game quickly ramps up it's difficulty for a boss, yet on the flip side and future bosses are a breeze.
There was a lot of variety in the levels, aside from the aforementioned flying & side scrolling style, the levels each added different puzzle aspects that you had to figure out, or road blocks that made the levels slightly more tricky. From moving platforms, to switches that changed beams of energy you couldn't move through to destructible environments, it was a nice mix and I didn't find myself doing the same thing over and over again... unless I died! One thing I'll note is that like many arcade games these days, it relies heavily on the nostalgia of the original titles, and if you don't remember them, or never played them you're left with a certain feeling of "Why am I doing this". It's lacking that certain punch that makes looking forward to the next level non-existent.
The levels can be played on both adventure, and free play modes that allow the players to challenge each other on leader-boards with both time, points and collection of items. While I like the replayability that leaderboards give the players, this isn't the type of game you're really going to want to be challenging your friends at. One play through was more than enough for me. Also, a word of advice, have your Xbox connected to live when you're playing as the game is going to remind you after EVERY level that your score won't go on line, unless you connect it now!
They've done a sweet job of the visuals as the updated graphics sure look great!
You're pretty much getting what you expect from an XBox Live Arcade title. A short game that can provide you with a few hours of fun and maybe a laugh or two along the way. Where I take issue with the game is in it's price point; 1200 Microsoft Points is pretty steep for this game. You can definitely find some better value on the arcade and it's a shame someone through they could make a killing on this, because it just isn't the case, even for those fond of the series in general.
They Way I See It: It's a decent revival of an old title, but at 1200 MS points it's really not worth the price of admission.