Rocket Knight Adventures: Re-Sparked

Rocket Knight Adventures: Re-Sparked

released on Jun 11, 2024
by Konami

Rocket Knight Adventures: Re-Sparked

released on Jun 11, 2024
by Konami

The mightiest mammal to ever rocket to stardom is back in a three-game, Carbon Engine-powered collection that includes: - Rocket Knight Adventures - Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2 - Sparkster


Also in series

Rocket Knight
Rocket Knight
Sparkster
Sparkster
Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2
Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2
Rocket Knight Adventures
Rocket Knight Adventures

Released on

Genres


More Info on IGDB


Reviews View More

[played on Nintendo Switch]

If you asked me to name my favourite Konami series, my answer would be Rocket Knight Adventures without hesitation. Ever since I first played these games back in 2022, they’ve captivated me with their unique gameplay, incredible soundtracks and unabashed creativity on all fronts. They’re games I’d recommend to any platformer lover, but unfortunately, they’ve never been too accessible.

Even with the Wii Virtual Console, Nintendo Switch Online, and both of Sega’s Genesis Minis, Konami never bothered to rerelease them. And as the original cartridges continued to climb up in price, it seemed like these gems of the 16-bit era would be stuck in obscurity forever. I know unofficial emulation has been an option for a really long time, but that’s nowhere near as accessible as a full rerelease would be, especially for people who don’t know a thing about PC emulators. Still, considering Konami’s current state, I doubted that it would ever happen…

But something I’ve learnt about this industry is that the impossible will eventually come true. In January of this year, Limited Run dropped the bombshell announcement that they were working on a Rocket Knight collection!! For as mixed as I am on their whole business practise, I’ve really gotta give LR props for their commitment to giving obscure titles/series the rereleases they deserve, and the fact that these games were getting this treatment made me so excited! And my excitement only grew as I saw what else this collection would give us: a special animated intro by Studio Meala, never-before-seen concept art, some neat physical items like an adorable Sparkster plushie (which I really regret not preordering), and most important for me personally, THE SIX-PART SPARKSTER STRIP FROM SONIC THE COMIC AS A BONUS WITH EVERY PHYSICAL COPY. As a massive fan of STC, that really surprised me, as it’s the first time anything from the comic has been reprinted since its end in late 2001. In all honesty, it’s the only reason I bothered getting a physical copy!

And initially, I was just going to wait for that to arrive in July, but my impatience got the better of me and I bought a digital copy on release day… which means I’ve paid for this collection twice, so Konami has no excuse not to make a new one. Regardless, it’s finally out and after playing for a few days, I can confidently say it met all my expectations, and even exceeded them in places!


Before getting into the collection itself and what it offers, I’d like to briefly talk about the three games included. These are some of my all-time favourite platformers, and I’d love to gush about them for a little bit. Believe me, I could absolutely write full reviews for all three of these games (and I fully intend to someday), but I’d just like to get my quick thoughts out for the time being.

First up is Rocket Knight Adventures, released in 1993 for the Sega Mega Drive! What makes RKA stand out from other platformers of the era is Sparkster’s rocket pack: by holding down the attack button and pressing a direction on the D-Pad, he’ll blast off towards that area, or spin in place if you’re not holding any direction. Compared to something like Sonic, the way RKA uses the concept of speed is entirely different. In those games, going fast was a reward for playing well, but here, it’s a tool that you can use in any way you want. Combine that with excellent game design which encourages you to experiment with that speed in so many ways, tons of creative setpieces and scenarios, an amazing soundtrack and a well-balanced difficulty curve, and it’s easy to see why this game’s become such a classic!

Next is the woefully underrated Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2, released in 1994 for the Sega Mega Drive! The core gameplay and concept are mostly intact, but there’s a few significant changes that result in a different experience. For starters, Sparkster’s rocket pack charges automatically now, and uses a separate button from his sword attack. In general, the game’s design is more focused on you using that speed as a movement tool, and as a result, it’s a slower-paced experience compared to the fast-paced original. Regardless, I still love this game a lot, and it’s honestly my favourite in the series! Something about this new approach just clicks with me more, and the presentation is absolutely sublime; I adore the visuals, and the soundtrack is easily one of my favourites on the entire system. Man, I really need to give this one a full review someday!

And last, but certainly not least, is Sparkster, also released in 1994 but on the Super Nintendo! I’ve already done a full review of this one, but if you want a quick summary, the game sticks to the original more closely and expands on it in some creative ways, whilst keeping the same level of quality in regards to presentation and level design. It’s probably my least favourite of the 16-bit entries, but is still a fantastic time!

The emulation of a collection can either make or break it, but fortunately, it’s incredibly solid here! All three games are running on Limited Run’s Carbon Engine, and they feel near-flawless. As someone who prefers real hardware for older games whenever possible, I’m more likely to notice input lag or errors, but there’s basically none of that here! Inputs are incredibly responsive, each game looks and plays just as they did on their original hardware, and they all sound spot-on (I did notice people saying the Mega Drive games sounded muffled, but I think that might’ve been on purpose, since certain models of the system filtered the sound to be less harsh/grating). The only imperfection I noticed was that the teleporter sound effect in the original RKA didn’t play all the way, but that’s literally my single complaint. Quite frankly, I’m super impressed!


Okay, so the games all play great, but what does Re-Sparked add as a collection? All three original titles are largely untouched in regards to enhancements and new content, but they do all have Boss Rush modes, which I ended up really getting into! I usually don’t care for this kind of thing in rereleases, but because of how fun the bosses in these games are, I had a great time trying to beat them all in one life!

As I mentioned at the start, there’s also a wealth of never-before-seen material, which is found in the Museum! This is another thing where the interest varies for me depending on the collection, but with how obscure these games are and how undocumented they can be, I was really excited to see what would be included! There’s scans of advertisements, the boxes and manuals for each game, and a ton of super interesting concept art, some of which reveals information we’ve never known about before! The original game’s got a lot of rare character art from the manual, the SNES title gets some interesting lore reveals as well as B&W art for plenty of the bosses, and Sparkster MD… doesn’t get much, unfortunately. Honestly, that’s one of only two complaints I have with the Museum; it’s possible Konami just didn’t have a lot of concept stuff from that particular game preserved, but only getting five pieces feels a tad disappointing, especially since the manual has character art that would’ve been nice to see separately. I’m also disappointed by the video section, which mentions it has “Trailers and Clips” but only features animatics for the intro and no commercials or anything of the sort. I assume that getting cleans rips of those or anything else would be difficult, but I don’t know, it still feels a bit misleading.

In terms of the collection’s overall presentation, I think it’s quite good! The animated intro by Studio Meala is absolutely gorgeous, José Salot’s title screen and Music Player art are fantastic, and Jake Silverman’s remix of the first stage theme from both Sparkster games is genuinely masterful, hearing it for the first time in the trailers honestly got me a little emotional.


I never thought a collection like this for these games would ever be a thing, but I’m so glad it is! After almost 30 years, they’re finally accessible to a wider audience, and the fact that I can just play them on a modern console, or hell, even play them portably with the Switch, is still mind-blowing to me. If you haven’t played these games before or want an easy way of trying them, I’d absolutely recommend Re-Sparked! The emulation’s incredibly solid, there’s a wealth of interesting extras, and it’s available on just about everything that isn’t an Xbox! I really can’t stress just how happy I am that this release even happened, and hopefully I was able to show that passion in my writing!

also Konami, if you’re still fine with people rereleasing your old stuff, can you and WB get someone to rerelease all the old Tiny Toons games like this, k thx bye

Rocket Knight Adventures > Sparkster SNES > Sparkster Genesis, for sure. All three games are lovingly packaged here and...unlike the Felix the Cat collection from Limited Run, all three games are completely different from each other. They're all super fun (even if Genesis Sparkster is a bit rough around the edges, and both sequels lose points for needing to be "Hard Mode" or above to get the "real ending(s)." I knocked half a point off my intended 4/5 because I did experience a hard crash when rewinding playing the Genesis Sparkster. It gets a bit....precarious sometimes.