Originally launched on the PlayStation Network over a year ago, the long awaited PC version of Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken has finally arrived on digital distribution channels. Building on the success of the browser-based Rocketbirds: Revolution! and expands the franchise with new characters and a brand new plot. Of course, designed for a new audience you needn’t have had any previous experience of the Rocketbirds franchise to enjoy Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken as the videogame begins with an all the plot establishment you’ll ever need.
Playing as Hardboiled Chicken, you are a hero. Not your everyday hero helping old ladies across the street, and not your once-in-a-lifetime hero saving a baby from a burning building. In Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken, you are the world’s hero, saving the planet from imminent destruction time and time again. You are the last bastion of hope in a world gone mad, capable of extraordinary feats of courage and endurance. Braver than Bond and rougher than Rambo, Hardboiled Chicken is the all-out action hero the world needs.
This high-octane action takes place as a side-scrolling action videogame. Drawing parallels with the likes of Duke Nukem: Critical Mass and the underappreciated Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond, the player takes on the role of the ‘Coq of War’ and enters a world where foresight and quick reflexes are more important than the gun your totting. Minor platform challenges and enemies fare more heavily armed than yourself are the order of the day, and so your decisions on how to deal with them have to be made swift and decisively, lest you find yourself face down in the dirt.
In addition to the scrolling action antics Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken throws a number of less traditional level structures at the player, most notably the jetpack sequences. Reminiscent of the Bartman sequences from the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) classic The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare – though obviously much more free-flowing thanks to modern hardware – players aim their weaponry in the direction of their target, but also press the boost button to propel themselves in that direction. The first few moments spent in this gameplay mode are a learning curve as you try to prevent yourself from heroically crashing out of the skies, but once the basics have been grasped most will realise there’s a significant amount of nuance in the control system and you’ll soon be diving for power-ups and ammo.
Also playable in co-operative mode, on- or offline, Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a thoroughly enjoyable tongue-in-cheek action videogame. However, perhaps above all else, Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a stylish videogame with finely crafted characters and loveable animation. The fantastic soundtrack complements every moment of the action – both in-game and during the frequently humorous cutscenes – and the environments are varied enough to be noted for their slightly eccentric design. Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is brimming with action hero cool, so much so that the lovechild of James Bond and Rambo raised by a family of Terminators would have trouble going round-for-round with our newest friend, Hardboiled Chicken.
While Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken may not be a pioneer, a big name franchise or a leading light in the Steam catalogue for PC gamers, it does remain a thoroughly enjoyable gameplay experience. It takes many of the accepted traditions of platform gaming and adds a splattering of comedy to them, a character that stands out bolder than most while still presenting a fundamentally solid series of mechanics and challenges. In a world where ‘me-too’ products have become the norm, taking a formula that’s been repeated ad nauseam throughout the years and making it feel fresh is an achievement worth noting.