Rocket Knight Adventures (ロケットナイトアドベンチャーズ) is a 16-bit era side scrolling platformer produced and released in 1993 by Konami for the Mega Drive/Genesis console, designed by Nobuya Nakazato, designer of several titles in the Contra series such as Contra III: The Alien Wars, Contra: Hard Corps and Contra: Shattered Soldier. Its protagonist is Sparkster, an opossum knight who fights an army of robots and pigs, many of whom are piloting various mechanical vehicles. Sparkster is armed with a sword that can project energy over a short distance and a rocket pack that allows him to fly.
Zephyrus is a kingdom with a long history. Its first king was El Zephyrus. Now, it is difficult to sort the ancient legends and myths from the facts. The prevailing belief is that El Zephyrus was a brave hero who fought a band of evil would-be invaders who sailed in a powerful ship called the “Pig Star.” These invaders would have brought destruction to El Zephyrus and his clan. They fought hard, and though the odds were against them, El Zephyrus would not give up. His courage and conviction provided the leadership necessary to overcome their opponents. After defeating the invaders, El Zephyrus became the ruler of the peaceful land, and the Pig Star was placed under a magical seal to keep it out of enemy hands. The “Key to the Seal” was guarded by Zephyrus and his royal family.
From generation to generation the Zephyran family has guarded the Key. Because the Pig Star had the power to destroy whole worlds, the Kingdom of Zephyrus has always been subject to attack. An elite fighting force was formed – the powerful Rocket Knights. These armored warriors used rocket packs and mystical swords as well as superb fighting skills to protect and serve the kingdom.
The current leader of the Rocket Knights is the brave Sparkster. He emerged as leader when the Rocket Knight master Mifune Sanjulo was destroyed by a corrupt knight called Axel Gear. Sparkster fought Axel Gear and banished him from the land, but there are rumors that Axel Gear has returned to the kingdom.
The kingdom has recently come under attack from the nearby Devotindos Empire. Overwhelmed by the robot-led army’s attack, the Zephyran forces are nearly wiped out. The Zephyran empire is on the verge of crumbling. Sparkster feels the presence of Axel Gear behind the attack, and heads to Castle Zephyrus. Sure enough, Axel Gear has taken the Princess! He plans to use her as a hostage to blackmail the king and get the Key to the Seal, but he doesn’t realize that the Princess is actually the only one left who knows the location of the Key.
There isn’t going to be a future if Sparkster doesn’t rescue the Princess from Axel Gear’s threat before the Key is recovered and the Pig Star is reactivated.
The fate of Zephyrus is in your hands! You control Sparkster. Are you hero enough to face the challenge of a lifetime?
Gameplay is often a side scrolling platform, with linear runs through levels. The player is able to jump, attack with Sparkster's sword, either directly or by "shooting" energy forward when swung, or charge up their rocket pack and go flying in one of the 8 standard directions, depending of the direction the player presses (if no direction is pressed, Sparkster performs a stationary spinning attack).
Levels are occasionally switched up with alternate styles of gameplay. Some levels are horizontal scrolling shooters (akin to Gradius, often with in-level references to that game), while one level has the player control a large machine to duel with Axel Gear.
The difficulty levels in the game are differently presented in each regional version of the game. Both the Japanese and European versions have two difficulty levels accessible normally via the options menu, while in the American version four are enabled by default.
|Japanese||Normal||Hard||Very Hard*||Crazy Hard*|
|European||Easy||Hard||Very Hard*||Crazy Hard*|
|* Only accessible using cheat code|
Ports, sequels and spin-offs
A SNES version of Rocket Knight Adventures was planned, but was never released.
Rocket Knight Adventures later had a sequel for the Mega Drive, named Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2, and a spin-off for the SNES, named Sparkster. While both games were produced at roughly the same time and shared the same name and same box art, they were totally individual games, as with other Konami 16-bit releases with the same name, and aside from character design and a common music score, they did not relate to each other. However, the Mega Drive/Genesis game is actually referred in Japan with the subtitle Rocket Knight Adventures 2, which also was used overseas in the game introduction, and it is also the true sequel to Rocket Knight Adventures, due to the stated continuity from the events of the original game on the same console, whereas the Super NES version is more of a spin-off of the same game following an alternative storyline. Like their predecessor, neither of both games were mainstream successes.
In October 2009, Konami announced they would release another sequel, titled Rocket Knight, made by the British developer, Climax Group. The game was released on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Steam on May 12, 2010. Nobuya Nakazato was not involved with this title in any way, though it was credited by the developers in the Special Thanks section of the game credits.
There was also a story of Sparkster written by Nigel Kitching in the UK-made Sonic the Comic. It was based on the Mega Drive/Genesis version of Sparkster. In an interview, Kitching said that Sparkster was the easiest game to adapt into a story, due to being similar to the Sonic the Hedgehog games. He was working on a second Sparkster story, but the plan was dropped when Fleetway were unable to obtain permission from Konami to use the character.
NOTE: Names in italic are unofficial