Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken describes itself as a cinematic platform adventure game. The game was first released in 2011 on PSN followed by a PC release via Steam last year. Now an enhanced version has now found its way to PS Vita.
Rocketbirds is divided into two sections – a 15 chapter solo campaign and a 10 chapter co-op campaign. In the solo campaign you play as Hardboiled a rogue chicken (so tough, he survived being boiled as a fetus!) who has switched sides and is looking to overthrow the evil penguin regime and its dictator Putzki to set free Albatropolis. As you can probably tell this is a game with a sense of humour and you’ll be laughing at the cutscenes and action throughout.
The game allows you to control Hardboiled via the D-pad or analog sticks. We found that both setups seemed to work equally well. Hardboiled can move left and right, duck, commando roll, jump, activate switches and shoot guns. Your movement is a bit clumsy and it’s easy to miss platforms. The rear touchpad gets a use for aiming while throwing items and the Vita’s tilt sensors come into play allowing you to gently tilt the screen for better views.
The gameplay is very simple and it’s not the sort of game that you’ll keep coming back to often for the single player. Much of the time you’ll just be running around shooting enemies, picking up ammo, activating switches and dragging boxes. There’s a fair bit of back tracking and the lifts can be infuriating if you activate one by accident as you have to wait until it reaches its destination before returning. One of our favourite puzzle elements was throwing brain bugs to take control of enemy soldiers. When you’re done with them you must force them to execute themselves to relinquish control.
The combat is also simplistic requiring you to simply hold the trigger and hope you don’t run out of ammo. At its most complicated is when you have enemies attacking from both sides which then requires you to constantly roll and change your direction of fire.
Some levels you take to the skies with a rocket pack (dubbed Jetpaction) which breaks up the platform sections. Here you must fly around and destroy the airborne enemies. The controls are problematic and targeting enemies is incredibly tricky. At times there are health and ammo packs dropping on parachutes for you to collect but getting to them is near impossible. While in the air the camera gets a mind of its own making things far more awkward than they need to be.
The co-op campaign can be played via local ad-hoc or online. In co-op you play as budgie commando’s tasked with rescuing the General’s daughter. There are six budgie commando’s to choose from – Chief carries a Light Machinegun, Hawk carries a Submachine gun, Mutt is a shotgun specialist and Keets uses Heavy Weapons and Hilga and Esteban are both Machine gunners. In co-op controls are mostly the same and you can also carry each other which kind of emulates dual-wielding. Players who previously bought the PS3 version of the game are rewarded with two additional co-op characters – Sniper Budgie and Agent H.
Graphically the game is lovely to look at with gorgeous cartoony graphics and great animations that remind us a lot of Shank and Mark of the Ninja by Klei Entertainment. The soundtrack for the game is provided by indie sci-fi rock band New World Revolution and it fits the game perfectly. The Vita version of Rocketbirds has been further enhanced by some new puzzles, new graphics, modified chapters, a tougher difficulty setting and a brand new end boss. There is also a sneak peak at Rocketbirds 2.
Priced at just £6.49 you certainly get a lot of value for your money with Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken. Despite some control frustrations the game is fun while it lasts and the co-op adds some longevity to the game. If you’re a fan of action-platformers then you should consider checking this out.