Why did the chicken cross the road? To take on an army of totalitarian penguins in a cool action puzzle platformer. Browser game fans may recognise the game, as it’s an extended version of Rocketbirds: Revolution.
The cartoony character art style set against the wartime background of the sinister penguin forces oozes style. Cutscenes play out a straightforward story of redemption and revenge with some surprisingly dark moments amongst the genuinely funny parts that themselves will raise plenty of wry smirks. Psychedelic rock band, New World Revolution, provide the soundtrack to the cutscenes, and while you won’t be rushing off to buy their album, their sombre tones suite the game well.
The environments vary from richly detailed jungles, sunny city streets and rooftops, to the usual army barracks and underground bases. The camera changes its level of zoom throughout and sometimes you’ll notice the background turn ever so slightly, giving the scene some well-realised depth. The game supports 3D TVs too if you want even more depth.
Fans of the Abe games of the Oddworld series on PS1 will recognise many of the elements on display here. The 2D screens rarely scroll along in length, instead you move along onto a new screen whenever you travel to the far right. The hero even has a rolling move similar to the little Mudokon. Abe never had a bag full of guns though did he?
Pistols give way to snappy sub-machine guns, angry assault rifles and oh so satisfying shotguns. When you fire at the quasi-Nazi penguins, they’re juggled in the air in a brutal dance of death as blood splatters the wall behind them. An extra burst of feathers indicates a kill shot, which you’ll need to look out for as you can keep them in the air long after they’re dead. When facing foes from both sides you won’t want to waste time juggling a dead target.
Switching your aim from side to side often feels unresponsive, especially when you’re coming out of a roll. Worse still are your chicken’s response times for jumping. There’s only one tricky platforming section in the whole game though and the missed jumps make the path longer rather than result in instant death, so it’s in no way a game-breaker.
If anything, the game is more of a puzzler than a platforming test. Challenges involve crate pushing to climb up to higher areas or lobbing mind-control grenades through narrow gaps to take over an enemy soldier so you can open doors or turn them loose on their comrades. The biggest barrier to your progression though is the poor lighting that often hides ledges and tunnel entrances.
It’s not all platforming and puzzles though. Jetpack missions take you to the skies outside of enormous zeppelins where you must shoot flying enemies. They fire heat-seeking rockets, which you can then lead back to them, before dodging and giving them a self-inflicted missile to the face. While these ‘jetpaction’ aerial missions are fun diversions, they never attempt anything more ambitious than these minor dogfights, so don’t expect any screen-filling bosses like in R-Type orSoldner X.
The game is beatable over the course of an afternoon’s play, but there are hidden signs to find and the chapter select screen indicates how many of them remain in each stage. They’re well hidden, especially seeing as the 2D design of the game means that there isn’t much space that you don’t cover naturally. Curiously, the game has a Platinum Trophy, so Trophy hunters may be tempted to make the effort.
A local Co-op feature helps to add some longevity too. Different characters are available to choose from and the campaign levels have been tweaked for co-op platforming and extra shoot-outs instead of relying on mind-control grenade puzzles.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is mainly for genre fans at $11.99/£7.19, but the demo might convince anyone on the fence. A few control issues aside, this is a fun title that mixes up some meaty weapons with some old school puzzling. The game’s style and character are heads and shoulders above most PSN titles too.
- Cool art style
- Puzzles over action approach work well
- Sometimes very funny
- Controls can be sluggish
- Some poor lighting
- Co-op scales back the puzzles