- Looks fantastic visually
- Fun, simple gameplay
- Great soundtrack
- Doesn’t do anything new
- Controls are clunky
- Framerate is choppy
It’s become common practice as-of-late for developers to release new PlayStation Network titles on not one but two platforms – PlayStation 3 (obviously) and, most recently, PlayStation Vita. This has mostly just been happening with brand new games – not many devs have had a rummage through their back catalogue of titles and ported them to the Vita, but Ratloop Asia has just become one of those with the release of the portable version of Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken. The game first released for the PS3 way back in 2011, when we scored it a pretty damn good four stars out of five. The Vita port generally holds up pretty well, however it has lost some of its charm in the jump from home console to handheld.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken follows the story of a chicken that goes by the name of Hardboiled, who’s basically your generic action-hero type (he’s essentially just Rambo in chicken form). The backstory of the game is that the land of Albatropolis has been conquered by the evil penguins and their leader, Putzki, who has brainwashed our hero. Anyway, long story short, he manages to fight off the brainwashing and escape, before setting out to exact revenge on the Nazi-like penguin regime. And this is where we come in.
As you’ll know if you ever played the PC or PS3 versions of the game, Hardboiled Chicken is a 2D side-scrolling shooter with some puzzle elements. The general aim of the game is to progress through each stage, picking off enemy penguins with your gun (of which there are a few different types, such as the standard Pistol that you begin the game with, and later on the Uzi, Shotgun and more) and working out how to open locked doors (usually by locating colour-coded keycards that are hidden) that block your path to the end of the level. It must be said that Rocketbirds is a fun little game, but your mind certainly won’t be at risk of being blown when playing through it due to the lack of virtually any ideas that haven’t already been seen a thousand times before in the genre.
When blasting my way through the Vita version for this review I couldn’t help but think that it plays very much like a browser-based game, and that’s because, as I found out later, that it is. Well, at least in its original Rocketbirds: Revolution form on the PC anyway. The reason that I felt that it bears an uncanny resemblance to a Flash game is because Hardboiled Chicken has all the classic characteristics of a browser game – it’s extremely simple, the controls are somewhat stiff and clunky, the stages are bitesized and the voice acting is, frankly, terrible. Given the game’s brand of humour you could argue that the voice work has been done like that purposefully to poke fun at itself, the genre and action movies/games as a whole, but even if that’s the case it just comes across as badly done.
But enough of the doom and gloom, Rocketbirds is by no means a rubbish game even though it has its fair share of faults and shortcomings. Although the Vita version does suffer from a choppy, inconsistent frame rate, particularly when the camera is panning across a stage when you run, visually the game looks a treat. The art direction is fantastic – imagine Escape Plan mixed with Rayman Origins and you’re almost there. Level environments are extremely vibrant and detailed, and if you tilt your Vita from side to side you can actually curve the backgrounds around a bit to produce an effect that makes them look three dimensional. Audio-wise things are equally as impressive (bar the voice acting of course) with a soundtrack that will make you feel like an actual action-hero.
If you’re looking for a new, relatively cheap game to play on your Vita then you could certainly do a lot worse than Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken. Although it has its issues –in particular the voice acting, controls and framerate, it’s still a really fun game that has made the transition fairly well to Sony’s handheld. The game will only last you around six hours or so (double that if you plan to play the game in co-op too, which features unique level layouts specific to the mode) but for £6.49 you can’t complain when some full priced retail titles only take that amount of time to beat. Overall it’s a simple yet enjoyable little title, and it’s probably the most fun you’ll have with chickens anytime soon outside of making a trip to KFC.