An army of penguins under the leadership of evil dictator Putzi is taking over Albatropolis and there’s only so much an underground resistance of Cardinals can do to stem the tide of Antarctic invaders. But from the sky soars a jetpack-wearing, shotgun-shooting, action-hero of a chicken, ready to rain death upon the ruthless aggressors invading his homeland.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken recently made its way to the PlayStation Network, but is this puzzle-platforming shooter worth your dollar in this crowded holiday season? Read on after the break to find out.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a game with several strong suits. Its art style and writing would make most animated shows jealous. With crisp visuals and a story that is serious one moment, and incredibly facetious and juvenile the next. Then there’s a brilliant soundtrack that manages to pull the game’s best qualities together and make an enjoyable experience even better.
Unfortunately, the aesthetic and narrative prowess doesn’t quite carry over into the gameplay department. In this regard, Hardboiled Chicken is an average game at best. While the title blends the sidescrolling-shooter and puzzle-platforming genres, mechanically, nothing is done terribly well — leading to a final product that feels much more stylish than it does substantial.
The controls are competent – if a little awkward. For a game that has a large focus on shooting that aspect of the game is incredibly limited. While grenades can be lobbed at an angle of your choosing, other weapons can only be fired straight ahead. So while there’s a variety of guns to choose from, it’s more about finding a weapon that suits your play-style than strategy. Oh, and don’t bother trying to jump and shoot. It doesn’t work.
The stiff controls and slow animations can make the game more of a chore than it needs to be. Because of this combat situations can be needlessly frustrating. Rather than flowing from one action to another, movement feels choppy and slow to respond to user input. These awkward movements are most troublesome in combat, but can grind on nerves during the puzzle-platforming sections as well.
There are also a few aerial combat portions that help break up the monotony. Shooting down attack helicopters and zeppelins for a few minutes is a nice diversion before heading back to the meat of the game. Unfortunately, these sections also suffer from control issues that take a little getting used to.
Luckily, pretty much everything else is working in Hardboiled Chicken’ favor. The writing is great, and genuinely funny. Serious moments are often undermined by irreverent humor. Fortunately, Ratloop Asia is deft enough to use jokes sparingly enough to never become ham-fisted – despite the juvenile lows to which it regularly sinks – yet often enough to ensure that the game is more frequently hilarious than it is dark.
The story is told largely through cutscenes. However, voice acting is almost non-existent. Music provided by New World Revolution is largely left to convey the story. The lyrics line up with the plot perfectly and this blending of music, narrative, and visuals is easily my favorite part of the game. Even if you’re not entirely sold on the game, give N.W.R. a listen.
There’s an option for multiplayer, but I didn’t find myself fiddling with it much. It’s local co-op alteration of the main campaign, which might help some people extend the life of what is a fairly short game. But unless you regularly have buddies over at you’re place looking for something to play together, I sincerely doubt you’ll be spending much time with this mode.
All in all, Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a good game, but a great art direction, narrative, and fantastic soundtrack can only go so far to counterbalance a short campaign with average gameplay.