When Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken came out last year I barely gave it a second thought. The trailers were quirky and I liked the music, but man, it was October. You know what that means? Skylanders, Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One, Payday: The Heist, and Dungeon Defenders all came out within days of the little game’s PSN debut. Battlefield 3 was just a week away. Plus, I was already ignoring most of these titles because mother-huggin’ Dark Souls had dropped earlier in the month. A Flash game featuring a chicken was not high on my review list.
We recently received word that Rocketbirds would be coming to Steam later this year. I had one of those, “Oh, yeah. That game,” moments and decided to pick up the PSN version for a review. My titanic backlog has recently angered me and I’m kind of doing this to make it jealous, but I digress.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a fun, albeit short ride. The game features a 15 chapter single player story and a separate 10 chapter co-op campaign. It’s a simple 2D action platformer that features an attractive, cartoonish art style characteristic of Flash games. There's even stereoscopic 3D support if you're into that sort of thing. The original soundtrack is fast paced and at times appropriately haunting. The storyline revolves around Hardboiled, the original “cock of war”. It plays out through humorous, nicely animated cut scenes. I’ll let you discover all the subtle nuances yourself.
Hardboiled stoically watches over the co-op character select screen. Yes, Hilga has boobs.
We begin our story with Hardboiled storming the city of Albatropolis, armed with a handgun, a jetpack, and some kick'n tunes. Before the scene is over Hardboiled has been grounded and is assaulting an evil penguin stronghold. Gunplay is quick and bloody. Platforming is simple and clean. The controls are solid, if a bit primitive. Run, jump, duck, roll, and hide in alcoves to avoid enemy fire. Dying penguins spew blood as you shoot them, coughing up ammo and health packs. You can shoot left and right, but not diagonally. It’s not ideal, but it’s enough to get the job done.
The levels are pretty simple, especially in the early stages. Kill some penguins until you get to a locked door. Take an elevator or roll through an air duct to a different screen, find a keycard, go back, unlock the door. Kill some more penguins. Watch a funny or oddly disturbing cut scene. It’s simple, but solid. Some of the chapters are incredibly short, but they get a little more complex as you play on.
Occasionally you’ll get to strap on a rocketpack for some “jetpacktion.” I wish there was a better balance between jetpacking and platforming, because the flying levels offered a welcome change of pace. The flight controls are smooth in the large 2D areas. If you die the checkpoints are incredibly forgiving.