Tuesday, January 25, 2011

VGR RKA2: Sparkster

That's right, there's another Rocket Knight game going by the name of Sparkster.
Around that time, during the 16-bit era, Konami used to do that a lot. That is, producing games on both the SNES and Megadrive, using the same title, same box art/artworks and even sometimes sporting an identical text on the back cover. Only those tended to be completely different games.

Let's dig in the Megadrive Sparkster game!

VGR: Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2
From Konami
Played on Megadrive
Also available on /

Type Sidescrolling action game
Year 1994

Since the original in '93 was such a success, gaining lots of attention, great reviews and praise, in a 16-bit market overshadowed by tons of other mascots, Konami decided it was best to keep Sparster around for another episode and build a momentum upon that popularity.

Thus in '94 came out two separate sequels.
Most of the original Rocket Knight Adventure staff had already left for Treasure (the classic Rocket Knight feel could still be seen on future non-Konami games such as Gunstar Heroes or Dynamite Headdy), but Konami went on ahead with two "original" sequels.
One, for the Megadrive, was a direct continuation of the first game - starting right away from its climax.
The other, on the Snes, was set "some time later", after the defeat of the spaceship Pigstar from the first adventure.

This is a review of the Megadrive episode.

Time for another round of "kickin' Axel's ass", yo!

The story takes place directly after the original Rocket Knight Adventure.

The Kingdom of Zephyrus had just been attacked by the Devotindos Empire. (the evil space pigs)
The game starts off with a prologue that the player can skip if he wants to. (if he also wants to miss out one of the hidden secret swords!! more on that later...)

RKA2 starts from RKA's real ending. Sparkster is facing once again his rival Axel Gear.
Sparky defeats his traitorous ass. All the opossums live happily forever...or do they?

While everyone was getting ready to celebrate, the Princess Sherry's cousin, Cherry is kidnapped by a new threat.
That's right, Axel lead more enemies to strike the kingdom while nobody was expecting it.
The lizard Gedol Empire under their ruler King Gedol!!

Wolves, Pigs, Lizards... it's lal the same for Sparkster!

The gameplay this time's a complete overall of the series!
While RKA and Sparkster (on the SNES ) played mostly the same, RKA2 (this one) use brand new mechanics!

This time it's a lot more arcad-y oriented.
No need to charge up your special attack, it's always charging all by itself, making the whole game faster and less platform-y. The levels are designed to RUSH, RUSH, RUSH your way all along.
On a negative note, no more sword beams. Sparky uses his sword like, well, like a normal sword this time. Meaning to defeat your enemies you either have to come in closer and strike or use the rocket pack to dash through them.
The levels are either designed horizontalyl or vertically, no more wide open spaces like in the first game.

The cannon fodder you'll go through this time are lizards...which essentially is the same as the pigs or wolves/lions from the other games. (easy to beat, lose their armour on impact...)

It's like a Godzilla movie! Featuring a rocket powered opossum...

The game is 6 stages long. There's multiple mid-bosses and bosses in this adventure, all lizards using strange robots/machines. (and one or two odd-ocurrences too).
You can select various difficulties, like usual. Beware that on easy you won't be able to access the true ending!
Not all levels play the same, like in the rest of the series, there's always some unique sequences were you'll control Sparkster differently. However, no shooting level this time..

Like in the past, the game will throw at you lots of crazy robots and enemies. The enemy has changed again but at heart, things aren't that different from the usual for Sparkster.

Oh and you'll meet Sparkster's rival, Axel Gear some other times again.

The graphics are quite colorful...but pretty tiny. Specially compared to RKA and the other Sparkste rgame.
Sparky seems to be 1/2 smaller than the usual.

Other than that... It's mostly another Rocket Knight, featuring the usual mechanical kingdom attacking the opossums, same tropes and themes, etc.. right?

Well, with these new controls the game doesn't feel the same as the past episode or the SNES Sparkster.
It's a whole different animal this time!
It's more arcad-ysh, faster and even the boss fights don't feel the same (since you won't be throwing sword beams at 'em, but either cutting through them only or rocket dashing around).

The game is quite difficult this time (specially at mid-point through it). Sparkster will go from his precious land to the enemy invasion of the city, in a desert/egyptian themed land and over the enemy lines. (their castle,...)

Supâ Sayiajin Supâkusutâ!!!

This game uses a password system, like the SNES Sparkster. But on the contrary of its SNES equivalent 4x4 input digits, it's only a 4x2 password system.
It will keep track of your progression and stats...

Because this time there's something to collect through the game.
All across the adventure, Sparkster will be able to find 7 hidden secret swords! (well, technically, more like 5, one is given after the prologue at the start and the last one after another fight against Axel)
Collecting all 7 will make Sparkster enter a super form in the end of the game, Gold Sparkster!!
(but unlike his Sega counterpart, Super Sonic, Gold Sparkster is only playable in the final scene of the game)
It will allow Sparky to be stronger, charge is pack a helluva faster and access the true ending in the end (and after the credits too).

Overall, it's a pretty decent sequel.
Fun, pretty long and more difficult than the SNES episode released at the same time.
(chronologically this seems to take place directly after RKA and the SNES game even after that, from a story perspective)
Though the final stage and bosses seemed pretty easy to me, compared to some previous sequences...

It may not be as good as the original and the mechanics are completly different, it still is a pretty good game.
Compared to the SNES game?
Mmmmh... I never thought of that. Well, for some different reasons, I do not prefer this one over the SNES game, nor the MD game over the other. They are pretty equal in my eyes.
The SNES one is easier, but  feature a more authentic gameplay. It was pretty short and the Axel Gear confrontations weren't that great. But it looked great!
This MD episode is harder, but feels totally different. It's longer and Axel Gear's fight are better. Through the giant robot scenes are pretty bad. And the sprites (and Sparkster) are pretty tiny on the screen sort of like modern sidescrollers on the Xboxlive/Wiiware... The end is a bit too easy. (perhaps due to Gold Sparkster)

I'd say, give it a try if you're a fan or like 90s sidescrollers. (but note that it isn't really a platformer!)

I give it:

2 / 3 Bruces!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I emailed you a few days ago, not sure if you got it or not? If not, can you email me on paicomics at yahoo dot co dot uk as I probably failed to get your email address right or something..I'm a tech reject.