Rocketbirds : Hardboiled Chicken – Bawk Bawk Boom!

If you get the reference, a star for you.

Far from the shores of pixel pirates and zombie invasions, I’ve been following a chicken in his plight to free his country from a penguin dictatorship. I’ve been playing Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken on my PS Vita.

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Rocketbirds is a side scrolling platform adventure game from Ratloop and with music provided by New World Revolution, a particularly choice band name in this case.  You play as the titular ‘Hardboiled Chicken’, a soldier rebelling against the fascist leader of Albatropolis and reclaim freedom for the cardinal birds who apparently live there. For some reason Albatropolis is currently held hostage by penguins and other birds, and seems to lack albatrosses. Still, off you go with guns in hand and with a gorgeous game to absorb.

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So what makes Hardboiled so successful as a soldier?
Through the game, you discover (via fully voiced cutscenes) that HC was brainwashed as a young chicken by the very penguins he now rebels against and, through vigorous and seemingly extreme training, turned into the super soldier he has become.

What caused his switch to the light side?
He was put in front of a young chicken and told to kill him. Or kidnap him…? It’s not specifically pointed out since the whole cutscene is without narration. Either way, he turns against his creators and now fights for peace. This particular cutscene is actually a hard watch, although gives far more context to the struggles of Hardboiled than the rest of the game does.

Rocketbirds controls are fairly simple once you get a grip on them.
Left analog stick controls movement, but down on the D-Pad and circle (on the Vita) both cause HC to crouch. Shoulder buttons are for your weapons, with the left and right on the D-Pad switching your choice of weapon between pistol, shotgun and semi-auto weapon, depending on what you pick up through the game.
Triangle lets you interact with buttons and switches and stuff on the floor, whilst square allows you to move crates, which can provide protection or give you a boost to high areas.

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The game isn’t solely a shoot-’em-up. As with many good platformers, there’s an element or two of puzzle-solving. Nothing too taxing, but enough for me to have to check a solution once or twice, especially if I’d been playing a while.
Interspersed with the puzzles are more traditional side-scrolling jumping and rolling, with the occasional bout of shots to the face. Occasionally you’ll be trapped in a section with waves of enemies, or most unusually, airborne dogfights whilst trying to land on an airship.

The game is split into chapters, with the chapters split into sections. If you get shot or otherwise die, the game throws you back to a checkpoint not too far from where you were, so it’s easy to keep progressing without getting too frustrated, when it all goes to hell.

When I first loaded Rocketbirds, I had turned it off again within about 5 minutes. It throws you into the game, and gives you very little in terms of direction. Seems to be a trend in games lately.
A week or so later, I gave it another chance, as I wanted a break from the RPG-heavy gaming I’d been doing.
Second time around, I pushed through the mental barrier I have for platformers and persevered. I’m glad I did. Not too far into the first level, the game’s humour starts bursting through with Hardboiled eavesdropping on two penguins talking about the unbreakable, locked crate near them. You’ll find penguins talking to themselves, dictators running away and leaving their mess for someone else to deal with, and cardinal birds cheering you on.

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Generally the game plays fairly consistently, with a difficulty curve that challenges you but not to the point of frustration. There weren’t too many areas that gave me any problems and it was only the sections with wave after wave of enemies that proved to be an issue. Even so, walking away and returning with fresh eyes and a rested set of reflexes saw me through to the end.

Considering I paid a grand total of zero pounds for this title, I’m glad I gave it a second chance. I didn’t think it would be my kind of game until I got stuck into it and I’m glad I did. It’s stuck with me after I’ve played it and I’m really interested to see what the sequel will bring.

Perhaps ostriches?

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Apparently owls.

All of the images in this post were screenshots taken from the PS Vita version of the game, and belong to their original creators. Khinjarsi claims no ownership of the properties or characters described here or used in the game, and is now highly suspicious of penguins.
Last played and completed on 19/01/16 for PS Vita.

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