The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
The Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network are no strangers to
retro remakes, with new editions of Bionic Commando, Turtles In Time,
Street Fighter II, Space Invaders, and many more populating the
downloadable services. However, full sequels to classics are more of a
rarity. Rocket Knight takes the Mega Man 9 and 10 model of keeping the
elements that worked in the originals, while building a completely new
adventure around those core mechanics. The end result is a solid (albeit
short) return for Sparkster and company. Rather than staying
true to original hardware limitations like the recent Mega Man titles,
Rocket Knight re-imagines the series' characters and world utilizing
some great 2.5D visuals. Your character is unmistakably the heroic
possum from the 16-bit era, but everything looks far better than it ever
did in the mid-90s. Fans of the original Genesis and SNES
titles will feel right at home once they pick up the controller, as all
of Sparkster's abilities make their return. The game's four worlds offer
a healthy mix of platforming and combat, with some boss fights
requiring quite a bit of both. During the standard levels, you'll have
access to sword swipes, a projectile attack, and a rocket burst that
allows you to avoid enemies and navigate quicker. Later areas introduce
some truly difficult platforming challenges. Interspersed
throughout the standard side-scrolling stages are shooter sections,
which are significantly easier than the rest of the game. These somewhat
simple affairs require little more than avoiding enemies and shooting
through obstacles. While they're not the most challenging, they offer a
nice break from the standard platforming areas. Almost all of
the gameplay elements harken back to the original games, but I was also
pleased with the unrelenting difficulty. Like most games from that era,
you can't just keep replaying and replaying from checkpoints. There is a
finite pool of lives, and you only get three continues. Use them all up
and you'll be starting way back at the beginning of the game. I learned
this on my first playthrough, when I fell to the final boss after over
two hours of gameplay. Upon returning to the menu screen, I was
surprised but also somewhat pleased to see that there was no simple
continue option. Only new game was available, so I had to truck through
every stage again until I finally took down the considerably difficult
end-game baddie. It may only be a two-hour game, but the
difficulty is perfect, and it offers plenty of incentive for
completionists. You can go for speed-runs, try to collect 100% of the
gems in each level, or take on hard mode. Nostalgia for the series isn't
a requirement if you want to enjoy Rocket Knight, but nostalgia for the
era it comes from certainly doesn't hurt.
Email the author Dan Ryckert, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.