Ah, nostalgic memories, how I adore you tickling of my inner child…. that sounded wrong. Anyways, it would seem nostalgia is a rather great commodity these days. The rebirth of point and click adventures, Sonic going back to his 2D roots, the Bionic Commando remake doing better than the sequel, and now this. Sparkster, the Rocket Knight, is back!
Sparkster, if you’re not familiar with him, was an anthropomorphic opossum Knight with a jet pack. His first game was on the Sega Genesis, and largely consisted of many of the the typical side scrolling platformer elements that was so popular back in the day.
What made his game so unique was the character himself. Being a opossum meant he could hang from his tail, which he did often in the game and was a major game element. His knightliness gave him a sword, which he used for attacks, this combined with being a “rocket knight” meant he had to have a rocket. The Jet pack became your main means of rapid transportation, high jumps, and even some attacks.
By today’s standards it wasn’t incredibly original, but back in the console wars he was the shit, and his game is still awesome by today’s standards. He might have been another anthropomorphic animal hero, but he was unique. He was a knight, so he was chivalrous, brave, and stead himself in anticipation of a battle. His games were also exceptionally hard, but you kept going back because of the character and his unique arsenal.
But enough waxing nostalgic. Sparkster is back, and he’s getting the 2.5D sequel he should have had a a long time ago. What is perhaps the most striking is the game’s appearance. The original series had these really lush backgrounds, not unlike the Sonic games. The lush backgrounds seem to be back, but the pictures shown on 1up.com are set largely in a fort of sorts. It reminds me more of Crash Bandicoot than Sparkster, but the color palette is much more vibrant than what I would expect from Crash.
Sparkster’s model looks great, but the enemies are different. Rocket Knight Adventures, the first game, had pigs for enemies. Pigs are notably absent here, instead replaced with anthropomorphic wolves. There does seem to be a good reason for this, in that those pigs are now apart of the kingdom he once defended. Sparkster had left the kingdom with his family, and his role as the Rocket Knight was replaced with his old foe Axel Gear. The Pigs now fight alongside the opossums against the new wolf threat, and Sparkster takes up his old mantle.
There does seem to be more emphasis on the Jet pack in this game, which is great. The original game had you charging up the jet to perform a great deal of it’s uses. According to the 1up article the jet pack was used to bounce around the level allowing Sparkster to collect gems, find hidden areas, and the like. Your abilities with the sword also work off how much energy you have in your jet pack.
Rocket Knight, as the project is called tentatively, will be released early 2010 on the PSN, Xbox Live Arcade, and Steam. It might not get a lot of attention, as the original series was somewhat of a sleeper hit, the screenshots seem true to the original games, I cannot wait to play this game. It would seem that 1up will be running more articles on this game through out the week, so keep your eyes open if you’re as eager as I am.