My only exposure to Rocket Knight Adventures growing up was through some video game magazines like Game Pro. I thought the main character Sparkster looked really cool with his giant sword and rocket backpack. Alas, I never got to play the game as I did not have a Genesis growing up! Well, as soon as I started collecting for the Genesis this was one of the first games I picked up. It was as fun as I thought it would be with tons of new mechanics that help break away from the generic platform action games that were so prevalent in the 90’s.
In terms of story, Sparkster’s goal is to save the Kingdom of Eginasem and rescue princess Flora from the Lioness army of yellow dog soldiers! The enemy plans on launching a warhead to destroy the Kingdom and must be stopped! It’s as simple as it gets – but thats okay – Mario did not become the timeless classic because of its story!
In terms of gameplay, this is an action platform game! Sparkster can run, jump, and jet through levels. By that, I mean that he has a jet on his back which can be charged up, and when released, can send him flying in the direction you aim him (see picture above). As a rocket knight, he also has a sword. Pressing the button once will have him swing his sword with slashes extending beyond (like when Link swings his Master Sword with full life). When the sword attack button is held, he charges up his rockets and can actually charge into enemies and hurt them while also staying invincible to enemy damage during the attack! I was originally concerned that being invincible would make the game too easy, but the game is overall quite hard so the mechanic works nicely!
Each main stage is built up from a number of different substages, and while most are mainly action platform in character, there is a ton of variety with a few even taking the form of space shooter stages (as seem above) where Sparkster acts like a ship from Gradius! Some other stages take a much more vertical approach (see below) where you feel as if you can really take advantage of Sparkster’s rockets, while others are more reflex focused where Sparkster rides on a mine cart and must dodge enemies, bombs, and spikes (see below)!
Each main stage ends with a major boss – and these bosses were awesome! Many of them had multiple forms and often times took up large portions of the screen! I found them extremely challenging, especially towards the later stages. There were never frustratingly difficult though as I always tended to get a little bit further each time I played. In terms of overall difficulty, this game is hard and I actually have not been able to beat it yet but have gotten to the end of the third major stage!
Controlling Sparkster feels great! The game is very quick (especially with the rockets on) but it controls great and is very responsive. I never felt like a death was a result of poor controls. In terms of graphics, the levels look great with all the characters like cartoony and comical, and the stages themselves looking very detailed with great backgrounds. A few stages also employ cool water reflection graphical effects that tie in to some really cool platform puzzle sequences! The music is also fun and upbeat with a few really memorable song (especially the first stage) that have stuck with me once the game was turned off!
Overall, Rocket Knight Adventures is a really awesome action platform game with tons of variety, great graphics and music, and a challenging difficulty that will keep you coming back for more! It’s also a bit of a hidden gem as few people I knew growing up played it (including myself)! Overall, I give this game an 8/10! Two sequels were also made – one for the SNES and one for the Genesis, and both will eventually be reviewed here!
FINAL SCORE: 8/10