Seething Cauldron of Pop Culture Talk

Irascible Analysis of Popular Culture

SNES vs. Genesis: Rocket Knight Adventures

Konami, long known for their action-packed titles such as the Contra series, Gradius, the Castlevania series, and much more, released a different sort of game in June 1993. The title Rocket Knight Adventures, seems to suggest some sort of scifi adventure with loads of action, but it’s actually a mascot platformer with bright, cheery colors and a smiling protagonist named Sparkster. Only, it’s set in the midst of a war between helpless opossum people and an army of pigs and robots. It seems an odd sort of combination, but the results speak for themselves. The game, designed by Nobuya Nakazato, known for his work on several Contra titles, is one of the more well-known Genesis platformers and mascot titles. In the game, Sparkster sets out on a quest to save the princess from a rocket knight turned rogue, as war rages between possums and pigs. Try saying that with a straight face.

What truly sets this game apart from other platformers is Sparkster’s rocket pack. Not only does it allow him to shoot across the screen at speeds that would make Sonic jealous, it can also be used to turn Sparkster into a missile for attacking enemies and for reaching out of the way places and platforms that he wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. Some levels the rocket pack gets a power boost that allows Sparkster some sustained flight through the entire level; these levels play out a lot like a sidescrolling shmup.

Aside from his rocket pack, Sparkster also has a sword which can be used to attack enemies up close or to through out a wave of energy perfect for attack enemies from a distance. These enemies include pig soldiers and their various robots. The emphasis on action also allows for some really cool boss battles, like a giant robot and a centipede that alternately crashes through the ceiling and walls to get at Sparkster.

It’s got a nice, fast pace to it, almost like a Sonic game in some respects and an emphasis on action while still retaining a lot of the hallmarks of the platformer genre [pits, spikes, collectables, and so on]. There’s a wide variety of levels, both platformer and sidescrolling shmup.

The soundtrack, composed by a team made up of Aki Hata, Michiru Yamane, Masanori Adachi, and Hiroshi Kobayashi, is really great. There are some many memorable tunes on the soundtrack and it’s very well made. On the other hand, the graphics, while featuring nicely detailed sprites and backgrounds, suffers from the Genesis’s limited on-screen color palette, giving it a slightly washed-out look. The graphics certainly aren’t bad, but there are better looking platformers on the Genesis.

All things considered this is a classic worth remembering. Okay, so maybe the graphics could be better, but is that really important? No, it  isn’t, because the gameplay is so good and has so much variety that nothing else really matter.


April 28, 2010 - Posted by | Console Wars, Games | , , , , , , , ,

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