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Review: Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken

Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken landed in our inbox the other day, so we decided to take a look at it. Is it flying the coop? Or is it egg on your face?

“Hardboiled Chicken” is the second instalment in the Rocketbirds franchise, an expanded version of the 2010 Flash game “Rocketbirds: Revolution!”, a finalist in the Independent Games Festival awards in 3 categories. It’s a side-scrolling shooter packing cartoon-like visuals. It tells the tale of Hardboiled Chicken, as he attempts to overthrow the evil Putski, who has taken over Albatropolis with a band of penguins.

The game’s relatively basic for a PSN release, which goes without saying considering its roots in Flash, but it more than makes up for it in its presentation values. Its visuals are great, and you’ll find yourself grinning at the over-the-top effects as you leave blood splatter on the walls from shooting enemies. The environments and characters are all really well-drawn and the pseudo-parallax effect when walking in front of buildings or boxes is really well-done.

The music’s really good too, with the soundtrack provided by New World Revolution. The cut-scenes between each chapter feel more like music videos, and it really helps immerse you in the brief and easy to grasp story.

Unfortunately, that’s where most of its positives end. The gameplay itself is much too basic. It could have taken advantage of having analog-aimed shooting a lot more than just in the jetpack sections, and you could complete the game in a good 3-4 hours. There’s a cover mechanic in certain sections that adds absolutely nothing to the game, nor does it reward you for using it. The jetpack sequences aren’t that great either. The camera seems too zoomed-out, making it all too easy to lose track of which character on the screen is yours, and the whole thing seems a bit forced and awkward. The “brain bugs” that you can use are an interesting addition to the game’s arsenal, but made me feel like it was just a mechanic added to give an obvious nod to the Oddworld games on PS1. It works, but for a game that prides itself on giving you a tough-guy character, relying on taking over other people to get stuff done seems like it’s a bit out of place.

Interestingly enough, the game supports stereoscopic 3D, which, for a side-scroller that doesn’t really implement the third dimension an awful lot, you have to wonder why they included it. There weren’t many scenes that made me think “that’d look cool in 3D”, so its inclusion seems to serve only as a bullet-point on a fact sheet more than anything.

The game has 15 chapters in the main story, and 10 in the local co-op mode, which has its own story separate from the singleplayer. There are 12 characters to choose from, each with their own traits, and some tailored puzzles to cater for 2 players. It has an almost “Head Over Heels” feel about it in some parts, but works pretty well. While it’s a shame that you can’t do this online, I do like that it’s there as an option and alternative to the main game.

Overall, the game’s pretty solid for a PSN release, but I feel that there’s not enough there to justify the pricing. The whole experience seemed more than a little similar to games like Alien Hominid that made the jump from Flash to consoles, but it’s a pleasant step away from the more serious games out there, if even just for a few short hours.

Developer: Ratloop Asia
Genre: Side-scrolling Shooter
Price: €8.99 / £7.19
Time: Pretty short, The singleplayer will take 3-4 hours, with a further 3 hours in co-op.
Gripes: Lack of analog aiming, jetpack sections are a bit lacking.
Get it for the: Cartoon visuals and great soundtrack.
Full Disclosure: Review code supplied by the publisher.

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