Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken, from Ratloop Asia, is described on the developers’ website as a puzzle/platform/action adventure game. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a puzzle or adventure game, as it is more an action platformer. Ratloop Asia builds on the flash game Rocketbirds Revolution, creating the fully-fledged game we have today. It follows Hardboiled, a chicken that has been convinced that the penguin leader, Putzki, has to be destroyed and the citizens of Albatropolis saved. The story for Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken unfolds through various cut scenes and in-game interactions with NPCs, investigating Hardboiled’s past and why he does what he does now. The story is interspersed with some passable comedic moments – while other attempts at humour will just make you groan. The opening animation sets you up for some action to a pretty rockin’ track from New World Revolution.
Rocketbirds has the usual kind of side-scrolling platform controls you’d expect to find, using most of a controller’s buttons for the movement and actions. Hardboiled’s movement range is duck, duck and roll, jump and quick turns. You also have access to various and better weapons as you progress and the ability to also control enemies to help you get access to other areas of the game. I played this on PlayStation Vita, and while it worked well enough, the control system kind of felt just a little on the clunky side that there were a few rage quits. The use of the Vita’s touch pad to aim the throwable weapons was really clunky but at least Rocketbirds didn’t exclude it like other games do. Taking down enemies requires different weapons and tactics along with quick thinking about where to move, especially on the boss fights. Level design was for the most part straightforward, with multi-floor levels, having to clear the levels by killing enemies and solving how to open the few locked doors, which just generally meant getting to a keycard or taking control of a guard. With fifteen levels to play through, it is a short game.
The graphics for Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken are visually crisp and highly polished. Initially you don’t get to see much but as the game moves forward, Ratloop take advantage of the gyroscope in the Vita version and give you an extra dimension to viewing the immediate area of the level you’re on. By tilting up, down, left and right you get to see a little more of the area’s surrounds. The lighting is great when you’re moving through vents, or fighting outside a giant airborne rocket, even in the first level, the colouring and lighting fit well together and help set the mood for each level.
The soundtrack of the game is provided by New World Revolution, a band with surprisingly little info on the web about who they actually are. But the few music tracks from them that do appear in the game are pretty cool. However it does kind of feel like Ratloop Asia may have just been helping a buddy out with NWR’s music appearing in the game.
I enjoyed playing the game, and it did provide a challenge. There is a really difficult setting you can enable but I didn’t go there and probably won’t. Why? Well for one thing, the controls on the Vita are kind of cramped as it is, add that with the slight clunkiness in response time and also the aiming of throwable items and, like I said above, it ends in rage quits. This drags down the overall enjoyment of the game. The lighting is great and would be fine on a fixed desktop or console, but given that Vita owners might play this outside (like me), it became difficult to see in various outdoor/semi-outdoor (car) areas and no amount of Vita settings tweaks made this any better.
Even with its flaws, the game is still fun to play, but it’s not going to keep you coming back for more, even if it has co-op play, which I couldn’t get to try as my friends don’t have this game. Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is worth your time if you’re a patient gamer. I say play it, but don’t expect much replay value unless you’re the type of gamer who has to clear all modes available.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is available now on PS Vita, PS3, Windows, Mac and Linux.