Rocket Knight (ロケットナイト) is a 2.5D platformer and a revival of the Rocket Knight series, which first began with Rocket Knight Adventures. It was developed by Climax Studios and published by Konami for the Xbox Live Arcade (all regions), PlayStation Network (Europe and Japan) and Steam (North America) on May 12, 2010. A PlayStation Network release in North America was on 18th of the same month, and the Steam release in Europe was on June 26, 2010.
The Rocket Knight
Our tale unfolds in the world of Elhorn, in a tiny, unspoiled kingdom called Zephyrus. It was a peaceful land, where the people lived in harmony with nature. They built cities in the treetops and lived off the bounty of the land. However, this made Zephyrus desirable to surrounding nations, such as the foul Pig Empire, "Devotindos".
Some time ago, the Pig Army, marched on Zephyrus, ransacking the villages and kidnapping Princess Sherry. They hoped to industrialize the natural resources of Zephyrus and expand their great Empire.
Fortunately, a valiant Rocket Knight named Sparkster protected the kingdom. He fought through the Pig hordes, to the heart of their empire, and defeated Devligus, the Pig Emperor. With Princess Sherry safe and sound, the kingdom of Zephyrus owed Sparkster a great debt.
As the last Rocket Knight, Sparkster pledged eternal vigilance to keep Zephyrus safe from it's enemies, whatever form they might take. Zephyrian poets sang of his many adventures. The townsfolk slept soundly at night, knowing that Sparkster would travel to the ends of Elhorn to keep them safe.
Meanwhile, Devligus' defeat left the Pig Empire without an heir. General Sweinhart, a veteran of the first war with Zephyrus, assumed the throne and promised the citizens of Devotindos a new era of prosperity. While Sparkster fought in a campaign against the Gedol Empire, General Sweinhart led a diplomatic contingent to appeal to the King of Zephyrus. With the Pig Empire in shambles, there was little hope that it's people could survive. Long years of war had left them without resources, without food, and without hope. Sweinhart proposed a truce, where Zephyrus could provide shelter and resources in return for the labor and advancements of the Pigs. The merciful king agreed, and forgave Devotindos of their previous conquest. Pleased, Sweinhart left to deliver the news to his people.
Upon his return, Sparkster heard news of the truce and confronted the King. "You can't trust the Pigs, Your Majesty!" he pleaded. "They're up to something!" He called the old king naive, and begged him not to let the Devotindos into Zephyrus. However, the king was a man of his word and honored the truce. Sparkster watched the months pass, as many Pigs came to live in Zephyrus. There was no trouble, but Sparkster refused to believe it would stay that way. After some time, he again appealed to the king. This time, the old king was less forgiving. the Pigs had worked hard to assist the Zephyrians, sharing their knowledge in exchange for very little. Their mere presence kept outside kingdoms from attacking, and it seemed Zephyrus was entering a brand new era of peace. "I'm sorry, Sparkster", said the king. "You're a relic of the past. You need to accept that your time might be over."
Three days later, Sparkster left Zephyrus. He flew far away, to a distant land in the frontier. Rumors spread and Princess Sherry mourned for some time, but years passed and Zephyrus moved on, shaped by the alliance with Devotindos. Memories of Sparkster, the brave Rocket Knight, vanished to time.
Fifteen years have passed, and Sparkster leads a simpler life of farming with his wife and young son. Though the fire of those youthful days still burns in his eyes, Sparkster has hung up his sword and armor, taken comfort in his family, and tried to accept the king's final words to him so long ago. However, while out farming one day, Sparkster sees a terrible sight in the distance: warships descending on Zephyrus! The Mountain Wolves are leading an attack!
Without a second thought, Sparkster hurries inside for his battle gear. Sorry to leave his family but unable to ignore his sacred vow, Sparkster rockets into the sky to become the hero of Zephyrus once more!
The game is shown at a slightly zoomed out perspective, allowing less dangerous use of the jetpack, and uses the auto-filling power meter from Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2, which powers both the jetpack and sword attacks featured in Rocket Knight Adventures (neither Rocket Knight Adventures nor the SNES Sparkster game have an auto-power meter). Sparkster can't perform consecutive boosts, but can temporarily hover in midair. There are other tweaks, such as Sparkster only bouncing off walls when he hits them at a 45 degree angle. He is also able to shoot short range projectiles and perform a drill attack which allows him to break through certain surfaces. Sparkster's attack range is also complete, allowing him to deflect certain projectiles with his sword. Like previous entries, there will be side-scrolling shooting segments, where Sparkster can charge his shots and use his jetpack to quickly avoid obstacles. There are several items and power ups along the way, with point and life bonuses earned for collecting all of a certain item in a level.
The game can be played in one of two ways; Arcade and Freeplay. Arcade works similarly to classic 16-bit games, in which players run through the entire game with a limited amount of continues, which is where experienced players can earn achievements. Freeplay allows novice players to play through levels individually, being able to select any unlocked level and attempt to get a high score for that level. The game also features unlockable character skins, difficulty levels, online leaderboards and achievements.
When producer Tomm Hulett joined Konami, he decided to work on a pitch for a revival for Sparkster, which was accepted after two years and four pitches. Hulett claims, "it was really a matter of reworking the concept -- making the right pitch at the right time," with various recent franchise revivals receiving positive responses at the time. Hulett also said that Konami thought Climax Studios were the best pick partly due to their facial animation technology, allowing Sparkster to produce expressions respective to his 16-bit counterparts.
IGN gave the game a score of 7.5, praising the inventive platforming but showing concern for the high price point. Game Informer gave the game a score of 8 out of 10. GamesRadar gave the game 7/10, praising its mechanics but criticizing its fluctuating difficulty, along with the high price point. 1up.com gave it a C+ grade, criticizing its lack of variety.