Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken Review
Sony PS VitaAlso available on Sony PlayStation
Everybody loves more of a good thing. Whether you’re into fine wine with a smashing fillet, three more points for your favoured football team or something more simplistic like the crunch of autumn leaves beneath feet, there’s something that everyone just loves and wants more of it. If you happen to be a fan of violent chickens with guns and hate penguins with a vengeance, given your belief that they rule the world in some kind of Cats vs. Dogs alternative future where animal husbandry has gone seriously wrong (there are no humans), then you’ll love the fact that Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken has come to PlayStation Vita.
A reminder then. In late 2011 Ratloop Asia brought to the PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3 the wonderfully daft Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken. You played then as you do now, the role of Hardboiled, a chicken with guns from the hardman era of cinematic action movies - all leathers, muscles and focus on comprehensive slaughter as you move from A to C through B. Your task is to locate and assassinate the evil Empire’s leader Putzki the penguin and put an end to their fascist regime. The narrative and aim of the game are the same in this new portable format as on the PS3 version, albeit with some subtle additions and changes along the way.
There are fifteen chapters in the single player campaign and three of those have been revised and amended to make specific alterations for this Vita version. Other than that the trophy list will provide some novelty to veterans of Hardboiled’s adventure, there’s a new Hardboiled difficulty mode and the obligatory usage of the Vita’s unique control possibilities. Specifically we have a camera which can be moved around by power of the tilt mechanism, and the rear touch pad allows for more tactile deployment of grenades. Whilst it’s good to have all this in place there’s no massive boon for this version of the game over and above the PS3 one.
The arrival of Hardboiled onto Vita seems logical in that it’s what we described as an archetypical digital download - short, fun and quirky - when we played the PS3 version. It remains as such and if you’ve never encountered the oppressive penguin regime before it’s probably as close to a no-brainer as you can get for your shiny touchscreen. At a very low price of entry you get a fun side-scrolling puzzle/platformer that really asks for very little in terms of platforming skills and clarity of mind given its real focus is on blasting hordes of enemies away in a hail of bullets and resultant gore. You also get the co-op mission from the PS3 game but this time it’s online play rather than local - clearly necessary for the Vita - and it works well as long as your wifi connection is stable enough at both ends (as is always the obstacle with Vita network play).
What’s rather galling and confusing is the fact this is the third version of this game to exist after the PS3 and the original browser game. Each has been built on - a lot between iterations one and two, rather less for the third time lucky - but why are Ratloop not focusing on the sequel clearly set up by the game and in this version trailed in the extras section? If the intent here was really to offer up their wares to more folk why did they make enough changes to ensure cross play wasn’t an option? Given the number of existing owners of the PS3 version providing a port of the game for those to use if they have a Vita as well, whilst providing it to more who might now take the plunge if they got it on both platforms, would surely have been the right and proper thing to do? As it is with the changes it is just not possible to offer this according to the developers.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is the same game it was nearly eighteen months ago. That means it is a limited offering but with such a crazed world, gorgeous artwork and short, fun blasting gameplay, it’s also a perfect portable game for those who have lots of stops and starts in their gameplay thanks to the daily commute or some such. If you already have it though, despite the fact you’ll receive a discount versus the already very low price (£6.49), it’s just not worth it. The game is 99% the same and you’ll feel aggrieved you didn’t get it by way of the Vita’s most exciting feature - cross play.