The Average Gamer

Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken Review (PSN)

Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a side scrolling adventure game which combines puzzles, combat, and quirky animation with some great tunes by New World Revolution. Playing as the super soldier Hardboiled Chicken across 15 single player chapters, you must take on the might of the penguin army, led by the Stalinist style dictator ‘Il Putski’. Ratloop Asia have certainly brought a unique concept to the Playstation Network, but does it take flight, or is this a case of fowl play?

Meet Hardboiled

The basic gameplay in Rocketbirds centres around Hardboiled Chicken and his guns. Starting off with just a pistol, you find alternate weapons as you progress through the game. Hardboiled certainly knows how these things work, and he can take out a gaggle of penguins quite easily from across the screen. The gunplay and movement reminded me of vintage side scrollers such as Rolling Thunder, and I liked the way you could duck in and out of cover at certain points, giving the game the air of a Naked Gun shootout, at times.

As you progress through the first few levels, Rocketbirds begins to introduce various puzzle elements, which initially just involve shifting crates around, but soon gain a new dimension with the introduction of brain bugs. These little critters can be thrown around the environment, and will instantly take control of any enemies that they pop nearby, producing a lovely green glow as they do so. This is one of the cleverest aspects of the game, as you can then use the soldier to your advantage, either to open new paths, or to take out his compatriots, clearing the way for Hardboiled to progress.

Viva la Revolution

Moving through the game, more enemies are introduced, and your revolutionary fight sees you teaming up with other birds, in order to take down the penguin oppressors. Shooting penguins initially seems quite poor sport, especially considering the mess they make as their feathery corpses are juggled in the air, in a low rent Devil May Cry style. However, thanks to the beautifully rendered cut scenes, and accompanying music, which tell the background story of Hardboiled Chicken and the rise of Il Putski, I soon learned to hate the penguins as much as my avian brothers did.

Mixing it up

The combination of puzzles, music and combat in Rocketbirds works very well together, and a change of pace is also on offer with a number of flying levels, which play out a little like Mini Squadron.

Whilst some shooting sections did prove to be a sticking point for a while, as I struggled to do battle with the limited movements on offer, I found that there were enough checkpoints on offer  to prevent frustration setting in.

Single player and co-op

As well as the single player campaign, which clocks in at around four to five hours, there is also a local co-op (or coop) mode, that allows two players to tackle ten chapters as the Budgie commandos. This co-op campaign take place across the same levels as the single player mode, but the puzzles are reworked to ensure that the budgies must work together in order to progress. Having completed the game, I feel that special credit must be given to Ratloop Asia for offering one of the best closing credit sequences in recent memory. It is really nice to see a developer doing something simple, but effective, that continues to engage the player right to the end of the game.

In summary

Whilst not overly long, Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken still strikes me as good value for money, given the five hour single player campaign and additional co-op adventure. Heck, some of the big budget ‘games of the year’ won’t clock in at much longer than that. Some of the puzzles are very neatly worked, and it is nearly impossible to get tired of mind controlling penguin soldiers. Whilst the combat system is not perfect, and the puzzles are sometimes a little easier than they could be, the whole game is presented with such style and panache that these small flaws are easy to overlook. Given that the music is so integral to the game experience though, I wonder if the soundtrack could have perhaps been bundled with the game? To my mind this would have made what is already a decent package into something that extra bit special. Oh well, I can always like to NWR on YouTube, I suppose…..

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