Rocket Knight Adventures was released on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive in 1993. It is, at its core, a side-scrolling platformer, with the added twist of being able to fly in any direction thanks to the main character's jet pack. Though it could be classified as a cult hit, Rocket Knight Adventures is considered a classic platformer for the Genesis due to its tight controls, colorful art direction, and inventive gameplay.
The game centers around Sparkster, leader of the Rocket Knights of Zebulos. These Rocket Knights were formed to prevent enemies from getting their hands on the 'Key To The Seal'. This key gains the holder the ability to use a massive ship known as Pig Star, which has the potential to destory all life as we know it. Pig Star was used to attack Zebulos, but the invaders were defeated and the ship impounded.
A faction using gigantic robots and a hella-lot of people are invading the Kingdom of Zebulos to try and get their hands on the Key To The Seal. Sparkster heads to the Castle and finds that the Princess has been kidnapped, hopefully to be used as a bargaining chip to gain the Key To The Seal, and then the Pig Star itself!
Rocket Knight Adventures is primarily a 2D platformer, but there are levels in the game that more closely resemble side-scrolling shooters, like Gradius. In the platforming levels, Sparkster can swing his sword, which shoots out short-ranged projectiles, jump, or rocket forward using his jetpack. With the jetpack dash, Sparkster can fly in eight different directions, and will bounce off of surfaces that he hits at an angle. In the shooter levels, Sparkster dons his trusty eyegoggles and rockets forward at incredible speeds, using his sword to take down any enemies that get in his path.
One aspect of Rocket Knight Adventures which sets it above the majority of platformers of its generation was that in each progressive level the gameplay dynamic would change in some way, rather than merely recylcing the same levels and adding more enemies. While some levels scrolled horizontally, others scrolled vertically. In some levels, Sparkster would ride a vehicle of some kind, like a mine cart or a pair of robotic legs, and have to dodge inbound enemies and obstacles.
Appearances Outside the Franchise
- Sparkster had a cameo in the Sega/Mega CD version of Snatcher, appearing in Outer Heaven alongside several other Konami characters.
- The UK-based "Sonic the Comic" (AKA "Fleetway") produced a series of comic adaptations based on Rocket Knight Adventures.
- Sparkster appears in a hidden ending in Contra: Shattered Soldier as a shadowy figure attacking Bill and Lance
Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded their "Editor's Gold Choice" award along with scores of 8,8,8,8 and 8 out of ten. Mike Weigand wrote, "Yes, it's Sparkster, and he's one awesome possum! Konami offers the Genesis another great game with this flyin' critter! Plenty of levels, technique and great graphics to keep even the most hardened veteran entertained!".