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Rocky Rodent (SNES) artwork

Rocky Rodent (SNES) review

"In a couple of ways, Rocky Rodent isnít that bad of a game. Your heroic vermin has some innovative methods of attack and many levels are loaded with obstacles that will at least take some skill to overcome. "

In a couple of ways, Rocky Rodent isnít that bad of a game. Your heroic vermin has some innovative methods of attack and many levels are loaded with obstacles that will at least take some skill to overcome.

Itís just that you can bestow those two compliments upon any number of platforming games ó most of which are far superior in several other aspects. You see, to make a long story short, this SNES offering by Irem just isnít that good. Plagued by repetitive levels, a lack of enemies and the annoying intrusion of a mindless plot that makes plumbers saving princesses look like Shakespeare at his finest, Rocky Rodent is one of those games that just doesnít work for me.

Rocky has some promise, as evidenced by his offensive onslaught. In the beginning, the only way heíll able to attack foes is by the tried-and-true method of jumping on their heads. However, as you progress through the 16-or-so levels of his game, youíll be able to give your rodent four different hairstyles.

Yeah, I know that sounds stupid, but itís actually a pretty neat idea. While the hairstyles do make Rocky look even more ridiculous than normal (no small feat, as with his tongue hanging WAY out of his mouth, Rocky looks more like the kind of fellow youíd see lurching out of the local porno theater at night than a hero), they are quite useful. The first one you obtain, a spiky punk cut, allows you to deliver a lethal headbutt and swing onto overhead ledges. A mohawk serves as an efficient boomerang, while braids magically become a combination whip/grappling hook. Finally, a strange corkscrew-like style allows Rocky to bounce on his head like a spring ó a useful way to catapult him onto high ledges.

And youíll have to master each of these hairstyles to get through this game. Virtually every level is loaded with all sorts of tricks and turns. One minute, you might need the braid to swing from hook to hook above a lava-like substance. Shortly afterward, you might have to switch to the spiky haircut in order to jump up and swing onto one ledge after another while another batch of that same red substance is creeping up on you, threatening to send you to a premature grave. All four sorts of hair power-ups are plentiful, meaning that you should never have any problems finding a suitable hair style to get through any of the gameís obstacles.

Thatís all well and good, but the problem is that Rocky Rodent really doesnít offer much of anything else. Most of this gameís levels revolve around you using your hair to get from one place to another. Sure, there are enemies in this game, but they tend to be weak afterthoughts. All the bosses have easily exploitable patterns that make them pathetically easy to topple once you figure out what to do. The graphics and sound arenít horrible (personally I like the way the human characters were drawn), but donít kid yourself ó nothing in these categories is anywhere near the level of Yoshiís Island or one of the Donkey Kong Country games.

And then, thereís the story.... Playing the role of Rocky Rodent, you are quite a gluttonous fellow. Apparently, your willingness to do anything for food is working against you, though, as a restaurant owner was able to get you to rescue his daughter from mob boss Don Garcia ó for an all-you-can-eat dinner. Hopefully, olí Rocky wonít be involved in any negotiations as part of his quest....

All that nonsense wouldnít bother me if Irem just let me get down to business after the introduction, but I wasnít that lucky. After every couple of levels, some new plot device comes along to annoy (or in some cases, baffle) me. Youíll be running along trying to save the daughter and all of a sudden, some loser comes up to you and mentions thereís a huge egg on top of a tower that could provide an indefinite amount of food. Does Rocky stay the course and keep searching for the girl? Nope, he immediately diverts his attention to what he hopes to be a FREE meal!

But all that garbage pales before what I now consider the most anti-climactic ending Iíve ever seen. Iíve no intention of spoiling things for any of you who still wish to play this game, but I can honestly say I would have preferred seeing a replica of the infamous Karnov ďCONGRATULATIONS!! THE ENDĒ screen than the illogical letdown Irem provided.

However, the saddest thing is that the gameís main strength becomes a weakness by the time youíve reached the final stages. After youíve gained access to all four hairstyles, basically youíll find yourself doing the same few things over and over and over in each level. Maybe a few complications will be thrown in as you near the end of the game, but odds are that youíve seen nearly all the challenges in some shape or form by the time youíre a bit over halfway through your quest.

The lack of level variety doesnít help any of that, either. Youíll jump over and around the same three or four buildings in a number of ďstreetĒ stages and youíll spend a couple of levels in a haunted apartment complex (not as cool as Silent Hill 2ís, sadly). Then, youíll waste a couple of stages climbing and descending a tower and a few more scrambling through sewers. Toss in a couple in a chili factory and a few in a clock tower and thatís pretty much the entire game.

I went through the final five or six levels just praying that I was on the last one. While the majority of them are pretty vast, with multiple sidepaths (sort of like Sonic the Hedgehog), I had no desire to start exploring, as my only goal was to get to the end as quickly as I could in the hopes that the game would then be over. And it didnít have to be like that.

Early in the game, you have a fun diversionary stage where you have to outrun (and jump over) cars on a busy freeway before the sun sets. It was an awesome supplement to the standard platforming formula the other levels held ó and nothing like it was found throughout the rest of the game. I really couldnít help but think that everything would have been just a bit better if a few more neat stages like that had been thrown into the mix to take some of the focus off the AMAZING MULTI-PURPOSE HAIR of Rocky Rodent. I mean, the hair is cool and all, but you canít expect it to carry an entire game....can you?

But I guess things like that are what separate the good games from the bad. Repetitive, derivative levels combined with a slew of annoyances ensured that poor Rocky didnít have a chance in hell of replacing Mario and Donkey Kong as Nintendo icons. I always proudly associated Irem with shooters, both great (R-Type) and mediocre (Image Fight). I donít even want to think how much therapy Iíll need in order to forget they occasionally slipped up and made crappy platformers.

overdrive's avatar
Community review by overdrive (March 04, 2005)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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