Rocket Knight Adventures
Description official description
Rocket Knight Adventures is the first side-scrolling action game starring Sparkster. He lives in the kingdom of Zebulos, and is the bravest of all the Rocket Knights. One day, an army of pigs comes down to invade the kingdom and capture the princess. It is up to Sparkster to set things right again.
Most of the gameplay in Rocket Knight Adventures involves using Sparkster's rocket pack and sword. Sparkster has to fight off many bosses and survive many precarious situations. The levels are interspersed with a variety of elements, like shooting stages, and giant robot combat.
- ロケットナイトアドベンチャーズ - Japanese spelling
- 로켓나이트 어드벤쳐스 - Korean spelling
Credits (Genesis version)
23 People (19 developers, 4 thanks)
|Sound Special Thanks To|
|Cover Artwork by|
Average score: 84% (based on 31 ratings)
Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 44 ratings with 3 reviews)
The graphics in this game are great. It has a steampunk feel with lots of robot baddies as well as a medieval "knights in armour" theme. It also reminds me a bit of Saturday Morning Cartoon from the early 90s. The animation is incredibly fluid and there was only slowdown on a few stages where there was a lot of enemies on screen at once. It also runs at a consistent 60fps for the US release. The music and sound effects are also pretty good, but not in the same league as say the Sonic the Hedgehog or Dynamite Headdy games.
Don't let the cutesy graphics fool you, this game is incredibly hard. You have a limited number of lives and continues. Extra lives can be found or achieved by getting so many points in the high score. With many one touch kill moments (lava, mechanical knights that chase you, falls) it's easy to lose a lot of lives quickly. The bosses are also very hard, often requiring 10 hits or more and having patterns that make them difficult to hit. In the end I managed to complete this on easy and normal, the easy mode is more akin to many games hard mode.
The jetpack (used for charge attacks and reaching high areas) isn't as well implemented as it should be. It's energy gauge is too slow to refill and I found it quite clumsy, often sending me in the wrong direction. This is one of the games main USPs and I think it might be better without it.
The Bottom Line
A difficult game. It would probably take the average gamer 4-6 hours to complete, if accounting for restarts. A speed run by someone who has completed the game will probably take just under 2 hours.
This game is indeed a classic and arguably a hidden gem (I remember it being quite popular at the time). It is very difficult and frustrating. I couldn't bring myself to hate this game despite the eye-watering difficulty. The graphics and cartoon style are unique - a marsupial in a knight's armour fighting pigs in tanks, what's to hate?
Genesis · by Alex L (969) · 2018
Do you know who the coolest anthropomorphic rodent on the Sega Genesis is? No, it’s not Sonic. That guy’s a jerk. I can’t take my hands off the controller for one minute to take a sip of tea without him tapping his foot and giving me an annoyed look. Oh man, I want to wipe that look off his face so bad. I think I might just play one of the Sonic games with the sole intent of killing Sonic repeatedly, it’d be very cleansing. What was I talking about? Oh, right; the coolest rodent on the Genesis is Sparkster the Opossum from Rocket Knight Adventures. He’s brave, daring, stoic, and he doesn’t get mad at you if you leave him alone for two seconds. Plus, he has the courtesy of at least putting some damned clothes on. He’s awesome. I want to kiss him on the mouth. Despite what I said earlier, if you like Sonic, we can still be friends. High five!
On the surface, Rocket Knight Adventures may look like Konami’s answer to Sonic, but aside from the lead character being a rodent, the two games have little in common. Nobuya Nakazato, creator of Contra 3, actually played a large part in the creation of Rocket Knight Adventures. The game has you in the role of the heroic Sparkster, a rocket knight serving the kingdom of Zebulos. It seems Zebulos is under attack by the evil Devotindos Empire and it’s up to Sparkster to stop them. Aiding him is the standard rocket knight armaments; a jet pack and a sword. The jetpack is a handy tool. It can not only propel you over gaps, but also into enemies and off walls.
While the bulk of the levels follow a strictly linear, 2D platformer formula, what really surprised me was the amount of variety on display. It’s staggering, no two levels feel the same, and even most of the stages differ from one another. One stage has you riding a mine cart at high speed, another has you navigating platforms using only your reflection, and in yet another you must ride a pair of walking legs over lava. To top things off, every once and a while the game switches to an ultra-fast, horizontal, scrolling shooter, and even those levels are never really alike. One section has you simply cruising over a lake, another has you dodging missiles in a city, before finishing with an homage to Gradius. There’s so much creativity packed in this game, it’s amazing.
Further adding to the game’s variety is a tonne of boss encounters. Each level is crammed with multiple strange boss enemies. There’s a fish that swims in lava and coughs up its pilot, a remotely controlled robot that attacks you by wildly gyrating its pelvis, and Sparkster’s nemesis in a boxing robot suit. No boss repeats itself, which is quite a feat considering how many there are. There also doesn’t seem to be any pattern (that I can recognize) of when bosses show up, so you’re kept guessing.
All the levels feature spectacular design and flow extremely well. I’m very fond of the airship level, as it feels like a complete airship, rather than just an abstract level that allegedly takes place within one. You start at the back of the ship, then you work your way along its exterior to the underside before re-entering and advancing to the bridge. It’s these small details that really make the levels feel complete. As I mentioned before, no level two levels feel the same, and many focus on Sparkster’s different skills. For example, there’s a hack-and-slash type level, a level that requires you to bank off walls with your jetpack, and another that you must navigate by hanging off things with Sparkster’s tail. I feel it really makes the most of the game’s mechanics, and it never feels stale.
I hate it when a game provides only a finite number of continues, especially when it’s a game as difficult as Rocket Knight Adventures. On top of that, there’s no password system, so when you run out of continues, you have to start the whole game over again. Chances are it will take you a few attempts before you finally manage to conquer the game. There are various difficulty settings, but the game defaults to “easy,” and the only setting lower than that is “children,” which has to be the most demeaning name for a difficulty I’ve ever encountered. On top of the immediately accessible difficulty settings, there are also two additional settings, very hard and crazy hard, that must be unlocked by entering codes. That’ll keep you busy, should you decide to try and “master” the game.
On the default difficulty setting, I found the game tough, but fair. The difficulty curve was very well mapped, and it ramped up nicely. However, Rocket Knight Adventures isn’t above being cheap. For example, after defeating one particular boss, its pilot starts jumping around the screen and freaking out. If you’re even slightly low on health and that pilot touches you, it can kill you. After watching the boss explode, it’s perfectly natural to let your guard down as you wait for the victory screen, but in this one instance, you’re punished for it. I suppose it keeps you guessing, but it’s still a dick move.
Speaking of touching bosses, I’m absolutely perplexed by the amount of damage you take from touching a boss, versus the damage you take from getting hit by its attack. This game seems to think that making physical contact with an enemy should hurt you more than touching a fireball. That just isn’t fair. One particular instance where this becomes a big problem is during one of the horizontal shooter sections near the end of the game. One of the bosses takes up the majority of the screen and yet on the default difficulty setting, if you even brush up against it, you take four full hearts of damage. Considering you can only shoot forward and must maneuver around it constantly, this is completely unfair. It’s not impossible to beat nor does it deliberately move to hit you, but it is quite frustrating.
Storytelling within the game is practically non-existent. If you don’t own the manual, here’s what you see: Sparkster is standing on top of a narrow peak. The camera pans around him as he unsheathes his sword. Then a ghostly image of a pig wearing a monocle laughs a few times before the game starts. What the hell does that mean? To be fair, much of the story is told in the background. It’s easy to figure out that the castle gets attacked, then the princess gets abducted, and you pursue her. However, it’s only in the instruction manual that these events are given any context. In fact, there’s quite a bit of backstory in the manual that isn’t even mentioned in the game. That’s unfortunate, but the game really doesn’t require its storyline to be enjoyable. Plus, this is the way a lot of games did their stories, Rocket Knight is hardly the only offender.
The Bottom Line
It’s easy to shrug off Rocket Knight Adventures as yet another attempt to cash in on Sonic’s popularity, but the truth is, it’s more than that. Sonic and Rocket Knight both have two very different approaches to the platformer genre. What really stands out about Rocket Knight Adventures, however, is how polished and rock solid it is. It’s really difficult to poke holes in this game, it’s that good. Overall, it’s one of my all-time favourite Genesis games, and indeed, one of my favourite games of the 16-bit console generation. I hold it in higher regard than even Sega’s own Sonic games. An absolutely AMAZING game from start to finish, I can’t recommend Rocket Knight Adventures enough. Now if only I could still order that t-shirt advertised on the box.
It’s interesting to note that Rocket Knight Adventures got two sequels, one on the SNES and another on the Genesis. Confusingly, both are named Sparkster, yet they are entirely different games. The Genesis version of Sparkster seems to aim at a closer mimicking of Sonic, while the SNES version feels like a truer sequel. While both sequels are decent enough, they truly pale in comparison to Rocket Knight Adventures. Surprisingly, Sparkster has now received a retro revival in the form of the download only (and confusingly named) game Rocket Knight. It’s nice to see that this little underdog hasn’t been entirely forgotten.
Genesis · by Adzuken (836) · 2010
The graphics are incredible: just look at Stage 3's reflective lava, the smoothness of the backgrounds, incredible even by today's standards. The music is one of the best for Genesis, you can spend hours listening to its music. Wide options for the difficulty (easier or harder to beat enemies) can give you either a challenge or something easy. And best of all, the gameplay, who woudn't want to be a mouse-like creature slashing trough enemies?
Everything in this game is good, but 7 stages, 3 levels each (and i'm talking really long levels here) with about 5 mini-bosses per stage? That's almost crazy!
The Bottom Line
This game is perfect for anybody who still has his/her Genesis up there in the attic, it brings great fun.
Genesis · by Stefan Schalk (3) · 2005
- MobyGames ID: 7397
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by quizzley7.
Game added October 9th, 2002. Last modified September 18th, 2023.