Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken Review
Don’t piss off this bird, you won’t like him when he’s angry.
Originally released as the browser-based Rocketbirds: Revolution and then on the PS3 in 2011, Ratloop Asia’s Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken was released on Steam last week. Somehow I had managed to avoid ever hearing about this game until I saw it in the upcoming games list on Steam, and it looked like it could be fun so I figured I’d check it out. I’m glad I did too because if not I would have missed out on a fun action-platformer full of gun-toting chickens and penguins.
Set in the country of Albatropolis, on an Earth that is inhabited by birds that can walk, talk and shoot guns, you’ll play as Hardboiled Chicken, now a rebel soldier who was forced to fight under the evil penguin regime led by the dictator Putzki. Throughout the game, Hardboiled will look back on his life and how he was imprisoned, brainwashed and experimented on to become a super soldier to fight under the penguins control. You may think that a story that involves chickens and penguins that can walk and talk can’t be very good, but I think you’ll be surprised by how much you like it in the end. It’s silly sure, but it’s a game about chickens and penguins killing each other and it could have been a lot worse. Overall, I enjoyed it and it’s not a game filled with long, drawn out conversations so even if you don’t like the story, it shouldn’t get in the way of you enjoying the rest of the game.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a 2D, side-scrolling action-platformer, so you know it’s going to feature plenty of puzzles (albeit mostly easy ones) to solve and enemies to kill. You’ll gain access to weapons like a Pistol, an Uzi, a Shotgun and even grenades, but my favorite has to be the Brain Bugs. You’ll come across these little guys a few chapters into the game and you can use them to take control of an enemy. Once you have successfully hit an enemy with the gas from a Brain Bug you then have full control over them and can use them to help solve part of a puzzle or to just kill a few enemies to help clear the path for Hardboiled. You don’t lose any of his health or waste any of Hardboiled’s ammo when playing as an enemy, and there are quite a few puzzles that require controlling one of them to solve so you’ll be using the Brain Bugs often.
Another part of the game that helps keep it from being just another run and gun action-platformer are the levels that have you fighting penguins high up in the sky with a Jet Pack. Since the penguins like to travel in Blimps (who wouldn’t?), Hardboiled will have to strap on his trusty Jet Pack and fight his way into them so that he can then destroy them. These levels are really fun and there are just enough of them to not over do it and make them feel repetitive, but help mix things up at the same time.
Rounding out the experience are a great soundtrack from the band New World Revolution and some nice 3D options. The music from the indie band fits really well and I love how Ratloop used it over the cutscenes. Gamers who like to play in 3D will be happy to know that Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken supports a wide variety of 3D glasses. I wasn’t sure what I would think about a platformer in 3D but I liked it as it gives new depth to the backgrounds that isn’t normally available in a 2D side-scroller. Not everyone is going to like 3D gaming, but for those that do the options are there.
Now for the bad parts, and there are a couple of big ones to go over. First off, I really don’t like how Hardboiled can only shoot either left or right (except when using the Jet Pack), with no way to shoot up, down or even on an angle and that he can’t shoot while jumping or holding onto a ledge at the same time. These mechanics make it feel dated and when you combine them with the stiff jumping, things can get a little frustrating at times. This new release on the PC would have been the perfect time to update some of the mechanics, but sadly they did not. The game is also really short and you could beat both the single player campaign and the co-op campaign all in the same weekend, with few reasons to go back and play them again. It’s one of those one and done games that will leave you wanting more.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken doesn’t feature any competitive multiplayer, but it does include a separate two player online and offline co-op campaign. In this campaign you’ll get to pick from six different Budgies that each come with different weapons and you’ll have to work together to solve puzzles as these ones require teamwork to complete.
The co-op campaign is even shorter than the single player, and it reuses some of the locations, but the puzzles and story are different this time around so the experience is different even when it feels familiar. I always love when a game includes co-op and having a separate co-op campaign in Rocketbirds was a great way to help boost the game’s overall length, which it really needed.
If you’re looking for a game to break new ground in the platformer genre and keep you busy for longer than a weekend then you’re looking in the wrong spot, but hardcore fans of side-scrolling shooters or puzzle platformers should enjoy Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken. Even though Hardboiled can feel stiff at times, and it would have been really nice if he could shoot in all directions, it’s still a fun and enjoyable experience overall. The separate co-op campaign helps, but the game is still shorter than I would have liked, and it doesn’t give you many reasons to go back for seconds.
Available On: Steam and the Playstation Store.