Archive for the ‘Rocket Knight Adventures’ Category

Sparkster rockets to the end, lets make some ham

March 26, 2010

Alright, endgame time with Rocket Knight Adventures.  I mentioned most of the epic battle you have with Axel in Stage 7, but like I said, he’s not the final bad guy. 

This particular stage starts off by tossing you into a “boss” fight right at the beginning.  You might have saw a King Pig like dude hanging out with Axel post Princess capturing, and then he popped up again at the end of Stage 5 when he runs away like a little baby and leaves the Princess behind.  Well, this is the guy you face off against at the beginning of Stage 7.  He’s actually really basic, and there’s a reason for this.  You pretty much can just rocket yourself into him and easily dodge his jumps; his pattern is pretty much as basic as you can get.  However, once you knock enough energy off, you come to realize that he’s actually a robot in disguise.  A few more hits and this form is toast, but variations of him will plague you throughout the level.  Actually, he’s just about the only enemy you encounter here outside of Axel, and you’ll run past different versions of him being made that will occasionally pop out of the background towards you, but they’re easily dispatched. 

The real battle, after the Axel fight, comes in this Pig robot’s final form.  I’m assuming from the look and shape that he’s supposed to be some type of supercomputer, or AI gone rogue, something along those lines.  If this was a modern game, it’d probably be Sparkster’s long forgotten father that went mad and got sucked into his favorite TV show but really the whole story just doubled as a parable for whether or not Possums can dream when they sleep and then Sparkster would wake up at the end with new robot legs or something.  But no, here it’s just a big round computer screen with a digitized pig face and lasers that shoot out at different angles that bounces around the inside of a room. 


Ah 16-bits, simpler times indeed. 

 This final battle is a pretty big pain, mostly because it gets so damn hard to hit the weak spot on robot pig face.  When the lasers shoot out, depending on the position they reveal themselves, a small red node will pop up on the robot, and you pretty much have to rocket around the room in order to hit it, oftentimes at an angle or by rebounding off a wall.  Dodging the lasers isn’t really the hard part, but the challenge comes from being able to dodge and hit quick enough.  That pesky weak spot doesn’t stay active for very long, making this battle a lot lengthier than it needs to be.  In all honesty, it’s a pretty weak final boss, and I prefer to think of that fight with Axel as the end of the game. 

Anyways, if you manage to hit it enough, it blows up, and Sparkster leaps into an escape pod, and you’re lead to believe it’s all over.  The next screen is Sparkster falling to the planet, and this leads into a particularly cool looking sequence that requires you to dodge the remnants of this robot pig AI that now exists just as a broken screen.  Survive the descent until you hit the re-entry point of the atmosphere, which then causes the unprotected robot to burst into flames.  The background scrolls from space to planet atmosphere during this sequence in a pretty believable fashion, and it’s definitely worth seeing, and pretty inventive to boot. 

 After that, there’s a quick reunited scene between the Princess and her dad, but Sparkster chooses to slink off in stoic knight fashion, and takes off into the sky before anyone can bother to thank him for saving them from Pig Robots.  It’s a nice simple, open-ended ending that paves the way for a possible sequel and doesn’t do much story wise, but definitely fits in with most platformers and action games from that particular era.  I’m actually glad there’s little to no text during this sequence, as it would have been a little cheap to try and tack much story on at this point. 

 So while I won’t say that Rocket Knight Adventures is quite the best of the best when it comes to 16-bit action, it’s still a cool little title that anyone who still owns a Genesis should try and seek out if you haven’t already.  I picked up my version for about $10 off of Ebay, and that was complete, so I’m sure you can dig up a copy for a pretty cheap price if you look around.  Definitely worth the three or so hours you might need to devote to finishing it, and it provides enough challenge without feeling ridiculous or cheap. 

 Next week is another title; this time I’ll be taking a look at Donkey Kong Country 2.  I’ve never played a DKC title past the first one, so this will be a wholly new experience for me, and I’m looking forward to it.  So come Monday, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

Or Diddy Kong.



Sparkster vs. The Giant Robot Pig People (GRPP)

March 25, 2010

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.

Rocket Knight Adventures makes this week awesome!

March 22, 2010

It’s a new week, so it’s time for a new game!  This time I’m going to focus on Rocket Knight Adventures for the Sega Genesis, a side scrolling action title from well-known publisher Konami.  This game released in 1993, putting me roughly around 12 or 13 years old (depending on the month!), and it’s a game I actually have a little bit of memory of from when I was a kid.  I totally remember renting this game, from the little Mom and Pop shop that I picked up a lot of my Genesis carts from at the time, but outside of playing it at a friends house for a day, I don’t remember much else.  Most likely because I completely lost the game during the week-long rental, and my parents ended up having to pay for it in the end.  Needless to say, it was a little while before I was able to rent another game. 

 So yeah, I have some pretty hazy memories of this particular title that weren’t really re-ignited until earlier this year, when Konami made the announcement of a new Rocket Knight game that was being produced for XBLA and PSN.  When that announcement was made, I decided it was time to seek out a copy of it, and a quick trip to Ebay later, I had managed to snag a complete Genesis cart and had it in my hands shortly after that. 

 And then I put it on my shelf.


I have a bad tendency to buy up cheap old games, and then toss them on the shelf for a rainy day.  Then that rainy day rolls around and I’m playing some Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, or other time consuming modern game as opposed to the dust covered classic games of my youth that spend their time on the shelf of my dark, dark bedroom closet. 

 But not today! 

 Well, more specifically yesterday, when I popped Rocket Knight Adventures into my Genesis and made it all the way to the fourth stage boss on my three continues before getting thoroughly trounced by his random garbage / junk tossing mechanic and the dumb little rat that runs around and smacks you when you think the boss fight is over. 


 However, I remember that a lot of people considered the game to be pretty difficult, so I was happy with my progress off of that first play through.  Hopefully in the coming week I’ll be able to fully finish it on normal, so we’ll see how that goes.  Throughout this week I’ll be updating my progress, fill you in on some information behind the game (what I can dig up at least), and probably piece together some segments on gameplay, music, and so on. 

 So, until then, let’s press start and play some Rocket Knight Adventures!