If you were to ask a child what their favorite animals are, they’d probably list any of the following: dog, cat, turtle, rabbit, or maybe even a hamster. They might even go out on a limb and state they adore giraffes, elephants, or even a kangaroo. But the likelihood that they would pronounce an opossum as their beloved creature is nil to none.
So it goes without saying that Rocket Knight, which stars an awesome opossum named Sparkster, is throwing a knife in the dark and hoping it hits the dart board. Back in the ’90s of 2D mascot-driven platformers, Rocket Knight Adventures made a name for itself on the Sega Genesis, but that was then and this is now. The release of Rocket Knight on the Xbox Live Arcade and Steam doesn’t benefit from an increase of popularity in its genre; instead, it suffers from an audience that is maturing and/or is playing better retro-fitted titles on the digital distribution platforms.
Per industry standards, Rocket Knight presents itself with modern visuals that sparkle and glimmer at the right times. The charming Sparkster does his best to win over the audience with ricocheting attacks, cute animations that make sense for an opossum (grabbing bars with his tail) and several other a like maneuvers. Throughout his journey, Sparkster makes it look effortless, thus, Rocket Knight helps provide the aura to the player that they are a masterful champion after every level is completed – which is great for motivation to keep playing.
Armed with a jet pack, a gigantic sword and a smile, Sparkster is a hero that players should be able to get behind and support. Problem is, the story is done and over with before a blink of an eye. Not posing as a challenging title, Rocket Knight is a breeze to play through, even on the higher difficulty setting. Taking around two hours to complete, the average player should take about 2-3 hours to run through the campaign. For the more adept players, they’ll rush through it in under an hour and earn themselves an achievement for doing so. This isn’t a knock on the title, as short games are as beloved as the longer ones, but Rocket Knight doesn’t offer much to invite players back for a second go-around.
Even though the levels are varied, the game mechanics are solid and the controls are responsive, there’s not much soul behind Rocket Knight. There’s a missing aspect that needs to grasp a hold of the player and never let go. Sure, Rocket Knight has the standard dash attacks, firing projectiles, the ability to hover and hang upside down, but Sparkster isn’t given a true heroic deed to accomplish. Outside of the boss battles – which, to Climax Studios, at times, come off as epic – much of the game presents itself as a training seminar for the rodent with an attitude.
Priced at $15 (or 1200 Microsoft Points) on the Xbox Live Arcade and Steam, Rocket Knight has a steep entry price. There are times when Rocket Knight shines and is reminiscent of the good ol’ days of Saturday morning cartoons. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s a shallow, one-off title that once it is completed, will fade from memory.