Aside from the graphical overhaul Rocket Knight also borrows some gameplay elements from the previous games and expands upon them. Sparkster has a number of basic movement options that allow him to jump and glide on rails. Much more important is the rocket pack that allows him to burst into the air in different directions, ricocheting off walls and attacking at the same time. Using this depletes a burst meter that takes some time to refill, except for the ice levels where it can only be restored using power-ups or by standing next to fire. These rocket bursts are needed to move around the levels and in later parts of the game it requires precise timing to quickly travel between platforms. A rocket burst can also be complemented with a burst drill by double tapping, making Sparkster break through walls. Burst assist can be used to hover temporarily in the air.
Next to the basic attacks with his sword, Sparkster can use burst to engage enemies, using burst shot to launch a bolt of energy, burst vortex to whirl on the spot with his sword and rail spin to attack when hanging on a rail. Many objects can be destroyed and some enemy projectiles can be reflected. Most of the levels follow regular platform gameplay with checkpoints and level bosses, but there are also a number of flying levels where Sparkster flies permanently into the air at a fixed speed and the game is turned into a horizontally-scrolling shooter. One of the later levels also has a vertically-scrolling section in a chasm and these later levels also put much more focus on the platform element and quick reflexes rather instead of merely attacking enemies.
During the levels Sparkster can pick up hearts to restore energy, collect diamonds and extra lives. When all lives are used up, a number of continues are available, but at the cost of having to restart the level. The main Arcade mode follows the story and afterwards these levels become available in the Free Play mode. Similar to the older titles in the series Sparkster can unlock new outfits, such as Gold Sparkster and Axel's gear. High scores and completion times for both individual stages and full Arcade modes are ranked in global leaderboards.
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Executive Vice President of Production