When Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken was put on my desk, I was displeased to say the least. I was told I was going to be reviewing a game about birds with attitude. This didn’t make me happy in the slightest. I had just gotten done beating Angry Birds: Rio and was finished with bird-based games for the next few weeks. Reluctantly, I agreed to review it.
An hour passed. Then two. Before I knew it, seven hours had passed and I wasn’t bored. It seemed that I was not only wrong, but I was an idiot for thinking that this game was going to be utter crap. It was quite the opposite. It was proof that sometimes independent studios really do make some amazing stuff. To be fair though, it’s not a new game, at least not in concept. Almost nothing about it screams original idea to me. In fact, the only truly unique bit about it is how it’s all put together.
It’s starts with the design. Whether it’s a rooster that looks like Marcus Fenix or a penguin that looks like a very angry Arnold Schwarzenegger, the characters are all bursting with personality. The landscape is also fairly reminiscent of the days when side-scroller backgrounds had effort put into them. My fiancee even commented that it reminded her a bit of Another World, and that’s a good thing. Another World was filled with beautiful and rich landscapes, and so is this game.
The gameplay also surprised me quite a bit. You see, most side-scrollers don’t bring much to the table and the last one I actually enjoyed was Alien Hominid back on my PS2. Developers Ratloop Asia seemed to have recognized this and made it more than just a side-scroller.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken breaks the boundaries of side-scrolling action. Instead of having me run down corridor after corridor while shooting things, I was given other possibilities. A specific example was during a fire-fight, where I noticed that I could hit triangle while near dark walls. Upon doing this, my character became invisible to enemy fire and I was offered a moment’s rest before returning to the firefight.
The side-scrolling aspect also seemed programmed to out-smart players. There were many times where I’d be trying to reach a hidden item only to have an enemy randomly show up and chip out a quarter of my health. There were also other occasions where I’d be running down a corridor shooting at one enemy only to have four more appear from the shadows right next to me. As strange as it sounds, I didn’t see half of these coming even after falling for them over and over again.
This all ties in with the execution, which is another thing I give this game credit for. Everything about this game is smart. I remember one specific example where I was getting sick of the platforming. The game seemed to know that I would be getting bored and put a random jet-pack in front of me. As soon as I put on said jet-pack the, gameplay changed completely. This offered me a fresh break from the side-scrolling. Perhaps the best part about it all though was that the rocket-pack gameplay was cut short enough that I got a good fill of it, but somehow was left wanting more.
Things like these are what make a really good game. However, there was one thing about it that stood out among everything else, and that was the music from New World Revolution. Whether I was watching a cut-scene or fighting a large group of enemies, the music was always there. It may not have been perfect, but I don’t know too many games that can claim a fully unique sound-track, let alone too many indie games that can claim that. Really, if I suggest this game for nothing else, I suggest it for the music.
This game was not perfect however, and there were some noticeable flaws. Specifically, the co-op campaign. Although I applaud them for having a co-op campaign, I feel as if it was lacking. It almost was if they finished the single player game then forced a co-op element in at the end as that little “extra bit”.
I suppose adding a co-op function isn’t something I should get mad at a game company for. I believe it’s something that can really make a good game great. However, stapling a co-op function into a game that does little to make the game more enjoyable will cost you review points. It’s a fine line between adding something that’s worthwhile and adding something just so you can expand the categories your game falls under. It’s like if a Mortal Kombat game had a chess mini-game, or a tetris-style mini-game. Actually, nevermind.
In all honesty, I’m only making a point to beat up on the co-op mode because it really is this game’s only major flaw. That’s not to say this game doesn’t have other flaws, but that’s the only one that I would dock them serious points for. Other flaws (as small as they may be) are pretty common in games, especially indie games. The controls take a while to get used to for instance. Also, sometimes the background can clutter a bit. There were times where I found myself running into walls I didn’t realize were there, simply because there was too much stuff. Like I said though, these are fairly small issues that don’t detract from the game all that much.
At the end of the day, Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a solid game. My only request is that players do not make the same mistake that I did. Yes, the idea of birds shooting at each other sounds completely nuts, but Ratloop Asia made it work. And they did a fine job of it. I take back all my negative thoughts about it that I had when I first saw it and only wish that the game’s development team won’t send an angry assassin chicken after my sorry ass.
This review is based on a copy of the game which we received for review purposes.
Rocketbirds; Hardboiled Chicken is a solid indie game with a soundtrack made of pure destiny.