Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS3, Steam
Developer/Publisher: Ratloop Asia
Rating: 12 (PEGI) / M (ESRB)
When Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken was first first released for the PlayStation 3, I had fun with the demo but other games already topped my wanted list and the game was relegated to the “someday” pile. Then, when I got my PS Vita, I did like many other gamers did and thought of what PSN games I’d like to see come to the handheld system. Rocketbirds: HBC topped that list, so I was very happy when the announcement was made. Rocketbirds was well worth the wait.
Rocketbirds: HBC on the Vita isn’t just a straight port. Ratloop Asia has packed in some extra content like additional levels, visual updates to better suit the Vita, a tilting feature to act like the 3D mode offered in the PS3 version, a tough-as-nails hard mode (with a knife!), and ad-hoc and online co-op modes. There’s even additional characters for those who played the PS3 version – one for if you tried the demo and a second if you bought the game.
For those unfamiliar with the game, here’s the premise. You’re a badass chicken reminiscent of Rambo, up against an army of penguins. You read that correctly. The game is animated like it belongs on Adult Swim or in a comic book, has rock music for a soundtrack, bird-on-bird violence (beware, vegans!) and even humor without coming off trashy. The setting is of a world comprised of birds, from a chicken to penguins and others who further the action flick of a story.
If you own a Vita, are looking for a new game, and like action, I can save you the hassle of reading and just tell to go buy this game. If you’re still on the chicken wire fence, or are one of those literate types, I’ll break it down. First off, the music is still awesome. New World Revolution provided the music for the game, which is tied into various aspects of the game to help with the mood. You throw on your jetpack, and the rock music starts up. Cut scenes giving backstories to characters are accompanied. But it’s not overdone. Many games use music from bands in a way that just feels like there’s a jukebox playing. NWO is a perfect fit for the game. This isn’t to say you won’t notice the sound effects. I’ve got to bring up the little touch of how when being riddled with bullets, an enemy penguin will let out a squawk when killed, letting you know it’s okay to stop juggling him with firepower. There’s voiceover in some parts but not others, and the ornithologist in me would’ve also liked to hear more bird sounds.
The controls feel crisp, and methods of control specific to the Vita have also been added. Grenades are aimed with the touch pad, weapons can be swapped with the touch screen, and the visuals are given more depth by tilting the Vita. While I didn’t have any problems with the way the game controls, I would like some flexibility in how I control, as in an option to choose guns with either stick. The rear touch mode of lobbing grenades and brain bugs works well, and I like how the main character aims with his non-throwing hand.
I tried coop, I mean, co-op mode, and it’s a fun experience not often found elsewhere on the Vita but also not the star on the forehead of the game. Something cool about co-op is that the levels feel different, yet the same. They’ve been tailored for two players, with small puzzles and bits of teamwork peppered throughout. Two players can beat the game, as this isn’t just a few levels cobbled together. Something about co-op games that have irked me in the past is the other player taking me away from what I’m doing, so I should note that thankfully both players need to exit a part in order to advance. The characters do not move as quickly as in the campaign, and some things, like ducking, aren’t present. But you can jump on each other’s shoulders and shoot in both directions at once, which is quite fun when your elevator arrives and you are surrounded by the enemy.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a great game for those who like action games, but to limit it as such takes away from what else it offers. Between the occasional puzzles, flight levels, and a storyline that leaves you wanting more, Rocketbirds is a quality Vita title anyone looking for solid portable entertainment should check out.