As original ideas become scarce it make those few titles that are different to the norm that much more intriguing and special. Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is one such title. It spins its own tale within its own outrageous setting on the action platformer genre to great effect, creating a genuinely amusing, original and fun experience.
The narrative follows a bunch of rebel birds fighting against the tyrannical dictator Putzki and his lieutenant Brno as they lead an evil regime of penguins who like nothing more than control and performing experiments on helpless bird citizens. The protagonist, Rockbird, comes to the rescue of the rebels and helps fight back against the penguin menace.
It’s an utterly bonkers plot and cast of anthropomorphised bird characters that makes Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken instantly charming. The humorous plot is complimented by some brilliant animation as well as crisp, clean and colourful visuals mixed with voice and voice-like grunts to depict conversations, all adding to the overall charm and comical feel of the package. In-between levels you’ll be treated to back-story sequences of exposition, setting the scene for the world and your character. They don’t add much to the overall experience and soon show the narrative is be pretty throw away in all, but it’s a nice addition, and the music accompaniment from indie band New World Revolution provides a fitting set of tunes which are pretty good pieces of music in their own right.
Indeed the presentation of Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is hard to fault and whilst the action and platforming valiantly tries to match it, they don’t quite hit the same quality.
For the most part Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken performs brilliantly. The campaign is split between combat and puzzle solving. Puzzles primarily involving shifting environment objects around to reach your goal. The occasional use of the Brain Bug is where the puzzles shine though, with Brain Bugs allowing you to take direct control of enemies to pull levers and the like. In combat different penguin enemies provide different challenges. For example penguins branding riot shields must be attacked from the rear rather than head-on. The variety of enemies is vast enough to keep combat interesting, and gradually more challenging, making what could have easily been the most monotonous aspect of the game a far more pleasant experience. It’s not all ground combat though. Jetpacks allow your otherwise flightless bird to take to the skies and deal with other jetpack wielding enemies. It‘s a nice break from the ground combat and puzzles and benefits from the same enemy variety, with rocket launcher foes giving chase with their homing missiles and so on.
The 15 chapters in the campaign take a good six hours to complete with several additional hours worth of content for those wanting to collect all the collectables and take on the cooperative missions. The co-op mode switches it up slightly by giving each player control over a bird with a specific weapon. Rather than being able to pickup weapons at will like in the singleplayer campaign you’re stuck with you set load-out, and most of the puzzles require you and your buddy to stand on top of each other. It’s a nice addition, certainly, but it’s limited to local multiplayer with no online option, which is a shame.
The issues Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken suffer primarily come from the controls. Moving Rocketbird around feels stiff and you’re unable to jump and fire simultaneously or fire anywhere but straight forward. It feels too constrained and holds Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken back from being a truly great title.
Otherwise Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken does a great job a building a compelling action platformer. The puzzles seldom become too difficult – although a couple may give you reason to pause – and combat functions well enough despite the controls issues. Moreover the charming aesthetic and humour truly immerses you. This is a title you shouldn’t let fly by.
MLG Rating: 8/10
Platform: PS3 Release Date: 18/10/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks on a PS3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.