While some video game sequels have the stigma of not trying hard enough to evolve the series, Ratloop Asia has rewritten the formula for Rocketbirds with Rocketbirds 2: Evolution. Although both games feature the same penguin ass kicker, Hardboiled Chicken, the second game in the series plays mostly different in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience.
Rocketbirds 2: Evolution is actually the third title to be released, with the first being a web browsed game, and Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken being the first commercial release. The previous game felt more akin to the classic platforming step-based formula of Flashback and Prince of Persia. The controls were less responsive, as you needed to plan ahead due to the elongated animation for jumping and climbing. Not to mention, the best way to get around levels was rolling in and out of cover, only stopping to unload on some very nasty penguins. You were unable to move and shoot at the same time, and shooting was limited to the direction you were facing, requiring you to move into optimal position. The game reviewed highly here on SelectButton, but some were left wanting more responsive controls and modern game mechanics.
With Il Putzki coming back from the dead, Hardboiled Chicken is once again set forth to kill the evil penguin bent on slaughtering the chicken race. Not to mention he uses the millions of slaughtered chickens as the key ingredient in his so-called pork factory. When they call pork the other white meat, they don’t mean it’s chicken as well. This time around, you aren’t limited in your capabilities, as Hardboiled Chicken can shoot in a complete 360 degrees, and while running and jumping around. In fact, you are free to double jump, giving you more mobility than you had in the previous games. Enemies will also drop from the screen after death, a notable difference from the last game where you were able to juggle them in the air by shooting them without stopping.
Picking up dropped items in the game can be a frustrating experience. Ammo dropped from downed foes can be picked up by running over them, but larger items such as health kits, keycards, and larger ammo crates require you to push down in order to pick them up. Considering all the changes to game’s movement system, keeping this in place feels dated. The pseudo-3D backgrounds return, adding additional depth to the game’s colorful and striking visuals, but at times the effect is over pronounced. The subtlety that existed in the previous game’s cel-shaded art style is gone.
Rocketbirds 2: Evolution is a tale of two different games, as it includes a four-player cooperative game mode, either local or online. Players take on the role of Budgies, those minimized aviary characters from the main game. There are well over 100 different weapons and equipment to customize your loadout and plenty of appearance options. All of the rescue levels in this game mode are procedurally generated, so you don’t have to worry about playing the same levels multiple times.
Although Rocketbirds 2: Evolution feels different than the previous game, I enjoyed the majority of the changes to the game. With Hardboiled Chicken being a throwback to classic platforming adventure games, Evolution feels like a modern take on the series. While I thought the cel shading in the previous games was visually better, Rocketbirds 2 still has a very clean visual aesthetic. The puzzles can feel repetitive at times, but I thought the run-and-gun style of gameplay works for this room based still of platforming.Note: Rocketbirds 2: Evolution was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.