Review: Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken
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I really wasn’t sold on Rocketbirds when I started playing. It was a lot of style and not a lot of substance, and I was worried the whole game was going to carry on in that vein. But as I got further in and the gameplay started deepening, I found myself more and more interested in seeing it through. It might not be a perfect platformer, but it paves over a lot of the rough spots with some unique flair.
Rocketbirds puts you in the role of the titular Hardboiled Chicken, a Stallone-esque supermerc on a mission to assassinate a sniveling, dictatorial penguin. The journey takes a number of twists and turns, through military prisons, museums, and jetpack jaunts through the clouds, all while dispensing bits of backstory in rock opera cutscenes. I’m not kidding in the least, here… the developers enlisted the musical talents of New World Revolution to provide the soundtrack, and they’re used to the most at every turn. Everything in the game is set to vocalized tracks, with the cutscenes completely choreographed to the music. It gives the game a strange feel, like someone set out to make a music video and ended up with a video game instead.
Part of this feel stems from the simplistic gameplay. Rocketbirds plays like a more fluid Prince of Persia, with jumps carefully measured and having to keep your character facing the right direction. Adding guns to this formula is historically not the best idea, and indeed the gunplay in Rocketbirds is basically a race to pull the trigger first. Your shots juggle enemies and they take loads of bullets to kill for real, so each foe requires several seconds of constant attention. When enemies approach from both sides, this is a problem that requires a careful balance of shots. Enemies can also bullet-juggle you, so by the end of the game failing to service an enemy can make you dead very, very fast.
Luckily, Rocketbirds doesn’t hinge its appeal on the gunplay. Combat is less a feature of each level than platforming, keycard hunting, and gimmicks. New systems get introduced almost every other level, ranging from jetpack fights to mind control. There’s enough to look forward to to keep you trundling through levels, even if the core gameplay is simple and frustrating at times. There’s even a pretty entertaining co-op mode and I’m not usually a big co-op guy. I won’t say Rocketbirds is for everyone, but if you ever wanted to play through a 90s animated metal music video, it’ll hit the right notes.