Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is the latest indie game to hit the PlayStation Network. Developed by Ratloop Asia, the game is essentially an updated port of Rocketbirds: Revolution, a Flash based game released on PC. The PSN version features a range of new content; including new characters, levels, puzzles, and cutscenes. It’s a promising effort that does a lot of things right.
Visually, this game looks phenomenal. The developers refer to Hardboiled Chicken as a cinematic platformer and that couldn’t be more true. The environments are highly detailed and the characters are well animated. A lot of care went into the aesthetics and it certainly adds to the experience. The backgrounds actually shift a bit as you’re moving forward, which is neat, but it did give me motion sickness for some reason. It didn’t happen often but it is worth noting. There’s also 3D support but I couldn’t test the functionality myself since I don’t have a 3D enabled TV.[drop]The single player campaign consists of fifteen chapters set in a variety of beautiful locations. Your main objective is to eliminate an evil penguin dictator that’s up to no good. In terms of the story, there are some cutscenes at the beginning of each chapter but that’s pretty much it.
The minimalistic approach works well though, and each cutscene plays out like a cheesy action flick from the 80s. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, although some broader themes of war are touched upon. The game’s rock soundtrack, provided by indie band New World Revolution is quite awesome. It’s still enjoyable even if you’re not a fan of rock.
As for the gameplay, the platforming mechanics work wonderfully. The meat of the game is shooting enemies, and that too is done quite well. You can kick enemies into the air and juggle them until you get bored or run out of bullets. The puzzles, although simple, are well placed for the most part to ensure that you’re never doing the same thing for too long.
Rocketbirds actually bares many similarities to the Oddworld series, which is definitely something to appreciate. You can take control of enemies to clear the way and solve puzzles, rescue captured allies, and even the general mechanics are similar. The biggest difference is that you can shoot everything in sight since you’re equipped with an arsenal of weapons (pistols, assault rifles, shotguns, etc). If only Abe had a shotgun.
Unfortunately, the challenge just isn’t there. As a result, you can easily breeze through the single player campaign on normal in roughly three hours. Although the gunplay is relatively fun, the puzzles are extremely monotonous. Stacking blocks isn’t particularly exciting and it nearly ruins the pacing of the game. Rocketbirds would be a much better game if there was more variety overall. It just constantly feels like a missed opportunity every step of the way.[videoyoutube]For example, there is a cover mechanic which is an interesting concept for a 2D platformer, but the idea is never fully realized. There are no sections that actually require you to use cover and it’s not useful as a stealth mechanic even though it lets you hide from an enemy’s line of vision. It seems like there should have been a close quarters attack to make up for its general uselessness.
Although most of the game consists of run and gun action, there are some jetpack levels to spice things up. The problem is that these are by far the worst sections in the game. The camera zooms out way too far for comfort and the controls are clumsy. It completely ruins the pacing of the game and it’s just not any fun.
Hardboiled Chicken also has a local co-op mode with its own unique storyline. You play as a Budgie commando and your mission is to save the general’s wild daughter. The ten multiplayer chapters are nearly identical to the ones in single player but there’s more of an emphasis on puzzle solving.
The pacing is a lot faster in co-op and the stages are noticeably shorter. Despite that, it’s still a fun mode to play through. What’s neat is that the Budgies can stand on each other’s shoulders at any given moment. This can help you reach higher platforms and the top player can freely shoot enemies. This actually allows you to move forward while shooting, which is something not normally possible.
- Wonderful art style with a great cinematic look.
- Tight gameplay mechanics.
- Fantastic soundtrack.
- Easy Platinum trophy.
- Too short.
- Not challenging at all.
- Simple puzzles.
- Extremely linear.
- Jetpack sections aren’t any fun.
The puzzles are just way too easy and there are no consequences to dying repeatedly. There’s not much replay value either, which is rather disappointing. If you’re a fan of side-scrolling platformers check out the demo first before making a purchase.