Sparkster vs. The Giant Robot Pig People (GRPP)

As I wind down on Rocket Knight Adventures this week, I figured I would take a quick look at some of the boss and mid-boss fights this particular title has to offer. Most of the boss battles in the game are made up of traditional side-scrolling magic, making use of one weak-point to try and exploit, and various patterns requiring some memorization and reflexes in order to overcome all odds. Being RKA, most of these fights are also damn tough, and while the relatively easy first boss battle isn’t much to get over, you’ll quickly be introduced to some more challenging foes as soon as you hit the second stage.

The first stage ends with an encounter against a robotic caterpillar. Most of the boss enemies in this game are robots of some kind, maybe as a kind of holdover from the traditional Sonic enemies, or maybe it’s just an animal mascot thing, I dunno. Anyways, with this fight, you’ll be stuck in a small room surrounding by walls. The Caterpillar will appear first by bursting through an opening at the top, and eventually he’ll make openings in three spots on the ceiling, and come through both walls as well. He gives a pretty easy telltale sign by popping his head through an opening slightly before fully committing, giving you ample time to get out of the way and line up an attack. However, while this boss is pretty easy, he does have one annoying attack that involves dropping down pairs of spikes that move along all the walls. When he finishes dropping about five pair, he’ll then release an explosive bomb that moves a little quicker and typically counter clockwise. To get rid of the spikes you need to hit this bomb with your sword, but it’s a hell of a lot trickier than it sounds.

Another boss, the Big Train, takes on the multi-tiered approach to boss fights, by offering up some slightly different forms. The first form comes at you from the left, while you’re automatically traveling forward by way of your train cart, which you’ve already been on for a good chunk of the level. As the train advances, it shoots out a pretty slow moving projectile. This first form is easy enough; it just takes a lot of hits and tries to get you to become impatient and thus screw-up an otherwise easy pattern. Land enough hits and you’ll destroy the front half of the train, which causes it to retreat. When it comes back, it’ll be overhead, on the rail track above you. This form is a hell of a lot harder, he’ll make use of two arms and hands that just kind of flail all over the place. The only weak spot is in the hands, but they can be tough to hit, and while they do follow a pattern of sorts, it really looks random to the naked eye. Give him enough time and he’ll bring both arms up, in order to home in on your location and deliver a couple quick strikes. This is actually a good thing, you can easily punish the second hand by staying to the right of the screen and pulling off your spin attack, which will make you temporarily invulnerable and land a couple quick hits in the process. Once you finish off the hands, the train will then come at you from the right of the screen, this time offering up the back which has a cannon that shoots projectiles into the air. This can be tough if you get hit, or mess up the timing, but it’s probably the easiest pattern of this boss. Once you blow up that back section, then you’re finally finished with this level.

The bosses do a pretty good job of forcing you to make use of all of Sparkster’s abilities as well. One mid boss is an underwater crab thing, with two pinchers and middle base that act as weak points. Because of the way it’s positioned (think of this like the Crab boss in Order of Ecclesia), it’s nearly impossible to just hit with a sword attack. Instead you need to charge up your jetpack and dive down to hit the Crab, annihilating its pinchers (which will block the main section), and then finishing it off. Another fight, this time in level 5, has main bad dude Axel chasing you through a section with his giant robot. You need to make quick use of your rocket pack to propel yourself through the maze like structure of this area to prevent yourself from getting smooshed. However, the reward it totally worth it, since at the end of this sequence you get to hop into your own giant robot and go toe to toe with Axel for a particularly cool looking fight.

Finally, there’s the final fight with Axel himself, at the end of stage 7. For this fight you’re stuck holding on for dear life to one of three support beams, as the spaceship you’re currently on has a hole and everything is being sucked out into space. Axel flies around you and tries to dash in for quick attacks, which you need to dodge, because if you’re hit you’ll lose your grip. The only way to hit Axel though is to rocket yourself towards him, forcing you to leave that secure placement behind and hope you don’t screw up your trajectory in doing so. It’s a really tense battle, and definitely feels like a good final boss encounter. Of course, this isn’t the FINAL final boss, but we’ll get to that bit tomorrow.


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