Friday, January 21, 2011

VGR Sparkster

Continuing my way through the Rocket Knight series~

After the success of the first game, there were two more "Rocket Knight" episodes released at the same time.
Both named "Sparkster", both using the same artworks, "title", texts, cover...but both in fact completely different games at heart!

Let's dig in first one, the SNES Sparkster game!

VGR: Sparkster
From Konami
Played on Super Nintendo
Also available on /

Type Sidescrolling action platformer
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 Snes episode.

This time, Sparky faces Lions!!

Some time has passed since Sparkster's big confrontation against the evil Devotindos Empire. (the pigs from the first game)
The opossum kingdom of Eginasem has known a relative peace for a while...
When one day, out of nowhere, the Lioness's army of Generalissimo Lioness attacks the opossum.
They're lead by former-Rocket Knight renegade Axel Gear. This really really hates our main character!

Once again, it's up to Sparkster to save the day. Sparkster will fight against hordes of Lions, destroy tons of mechanical foes and clash against Axel a couple of times before facing the final boss!

Same ol', same ol'!

The game controls mostly like the original Rocket Knight Adventure on the Megadrive.
One button to jump.
Another for the sword.
Sparkster can cut through his enemies' armour and leave 'em in underwear (ah!).
A small aura is projected along the sword to aim further.
You can charge it to either produce a spinning attack or boost away with the rocket pack.

There's a new gameplay gimmick added to Sparkster!
With the left and right triggers on the Snes pad, you can quickly dash away from one side or the other.
At first it seems unnecessary, but by the end of the game you'll find yourself using it more and more,

This time the enemies are lions, but in the end it's pretty similar to the pigs from the original.
They won't pose much problem by themselves, but in large groups or when you least expect them a the bottom of the screen, they can cause you damage.

Axel Gear, we meet again, traitor!!

Poor lil' opossum, they won't make is life eady at Konami's. :/
Once again, the game has several bosses, though a lotta easier than in the first game.
Sparkster will have to face a lot of giant robots at the end of each act.
Though without Treasure's guys at the head of the project, they require less hits and with easier patterns to learn.

The game's playtime depends on the difficulty you choose in the options.
On easy, the game's 7 level longs and ends with the "final" confrontation against Axel.
On normal, the default setting, there's a level beyond that against Generalissimo.
And on hard and up there's one more true final ending stage.

PIEEEW! PIEEW! Kaaaabloooowaaah! You're dead!

The game's a pretty straightforward sequel to RKA.
They made this one from scratch, with brand new sprites, levels and story. But they did capture the original's gameplay.
Though I find it much slower, nowhere near the fast arcad-ysh tension of the original (who altered the gameplay much frequently).

This time, the gameplay's pretty much the same through and through apart 2 little stages who try to capture the original's magic.
There's a stage, riding a mechanical bird who's pretty fun to play but maybe too short and too easy.
And another one (in the end), were the game will turn into a SHMUP. Again.
But this time, unlike RKA's horizontal shooter, it's a vertical shooter. The level's pretty hardcore, ending in this game's most difficult and cheap boss, a retake on the giant robots fight from Rocket Knight Adventure only from a topview perspective.

Overall, it's a pretty decent and fun sequel!
It might not be as impressive and unique as RKA, but it's a decent enough sequel fans of the series should play!

The game's much shorter and easier, even on harder settings where you'll go through this one pretty fast. Maybe it's because of the shorter levels or lack of real challenge in the bosses (apart the end).

Sparkster sports a brand new look in this adventure, now he has shiny blonde hairs (kinda super sayan-ysh).
The stages aren't as original as in the first game, this time some levels will seem out of place in the story (which the original tried to connect in a lil' in-game universe).
Most stages follow naturally the preceding, but then you'll find yourself in stage 2 in a random factory (when Axel will fly in the sky in the previous boss battle) or in a musical-themed level...

Anyway, apart from some nit-picking, it's a great game.
The music is catchy, the sprites colorful and well animated.

I give it:

2 / 3 Bruces!

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