Rocket Knight Adventures
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|Rocket Knight Adventures|
North American box art
|Genre(s)||Platform game, Scrolling shooter|
|Media/distribution||8 megabit cartridge|
Rocket Knight Adventures (ロケットナイトアドベンチャーズ Roketto Naito Adobenchāzu ) is a 16-bit generation side scrolling platformer produced and released in 1993 by Konami for the Mega Drive/Genesis console, designed by Nobuya Nakazato, designer of several titles in the Contra series such as The Alien Wars, Hard Corps and Shattered Soldier. Its protagonist is Sparkster, an opossum knight who fights an army of robots and pigs, many of whom are piloting various mechanical vehicles. Sparkster is armed with a sword that can project energy over a short distance and a rocket pack that allows him to fly.
According to the Game's instruction manual, the story takes place in a world called Elhorn, the home of the Kingdom of Zebulos. The instruction manual also describes the "past" and "present" events of the game's back story.
The "past" explains about how the first King El Zebulos fought against some would-be invaders who sailed in a powerful ship called the Pig Star, and lead his clan against them with courage and conviction. After defeating the invaders, El Zebulos was made ruler of the land, and knowing the Pig Star has the power to destroy entire worlds, was placed under a magic seal so it wouldn't fall into enemy hands.
The "Key to the Seal" would be guarded and passed down by El Zebulos, and his Royal Family. Generations into the future, the kingdom has been subject to attack by neighboring countries which want control of The Pig Star. To protect the kingdom of Zebulos, an elite group of warriors known as the Rocket Knights had been formed. These Warriors wore armor with Rocket Packs, wielded mystical swords, and harnessed awesome combat skills.
During this time, Sparkster had become a War Orphan and was taken in by Mifune Sanjulo; a friend of the King, and was at that point the leader of the Rocket Knights. Sparkster would later become a promising Rocket Knight at an early age. Later on, a corrupt Rocket Knight by the name of Axel Gear would try to steal an ancient book, which contained the secrets of the rocket knights. This book was kept by Mifune himself only to be caught. Axel and Mifune fought, and Mifune was severely wounded, leaving him permanently disabled. Sparkster would then become the new leader of the Rocket Knights, but he wants revenge for his adoptive father's suffering.
For 10 years Sparkster would wander, posing as an outlaw as he searched for Axel Gear, only to return to Zebulos and hear rumors about Axel Gear's return.
The "present" describes what's going on in the game itself. The Kingdom is under attack by the Devotindos Empire led by Emperor Devligus Devotindos; who is said to have the power of hypnosis. Sparkster rushes to the castle, sensing Axel Gear's Presence. Sure enough, Axel Gear has kidnapped Princess Sherry in attempt to blackmail the king into surrendering The "Key to the Seal". However it just so happens that the Princess is the only one who knows of its location. Sparkster rushes through jungles, caves, and even into Devotindos territory to save the princess.
Sparkster would finally confront Devilgus himself, who quickly flees after he has obtained the key to the Pig Star from the Princess and takes off into space. The Princess cast a spell on Sparkster which would allow him to go after Devilgus and into The Pig Star. Sparkster fights the Emperor himself, only to discover he was a machine all along. After Devilgus' destruction, Sparkster runs into Axel Gear, who tries to jettison Sparkster into space, only to have himself sucked into space instead. Sparkster then goes to destroy the Core of the Pig Star, to get rid of the threat once and for all. Upon reaching the core, Sparkster discovers that Devligus has uploaded his memory into the core, and attempts to destroy Sparkster. However Devilgus' efforts fail as The Pig Star explodes, and he makes a last-ditch effort to kill Sparkster while he's defenseless in an escape pod, eventually burning apart in Elhorn's atmosphere. Sparkster manages to escape in one piece and reaches the castle with Princess Sherry. Sparkster is pleased with the safety of the Princess and the Kingdom itself, but accepts no reward as he blasts off into the horizon, leaving the King, and Princess to simply wave goodbye instead.
Gameplay is often a side scrolling platform, with linear runs through levels. The player is able to jump, attack with Sparkster's sword, either directly or by "shooting" energy forward when swung, or charge up their rocket pack and go flying in one of the 8 standard directions, depending of the direction the player presses (if no direction is pressed, Sparkster performs a stationary spinning attack).
Levels are occasionally switched up with alternate styles of gameplay. Some levels are horizontal scrolling shooters (akin to Gradius, often with in-level references to that game), while one level has the player control a large machine to duel with Axel Gear.
The difficulty levels in the game are differently presented in each regional version of the game. Both the Japanese and European versions have two difficulty levels accessible normally via the options menu, while in the American version four are enabled by default.
|Japanese||Normal||Hard||Very Hard*||Crazy Hard*|
|European||Easy||Hard||Very Hard*||Crazy Hard*|
|* Only accessible using cheat code|
Ports, sequels and spin-offs 
A SNES version of Rocket Knight Adventures was planned, but was never released.
Rocket Knight Adventures later had a sequel for the Mega Drive, named Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2, and a spin-off for the SNES, named Sparkster. While both games were produced at roughly the same time and shared the same name and same box art, they were totally individual games, as with other Konami 16-bit releases with the same name, and aside from character design and a common music score, they did not relate to each other. However, the Mega Drive/Genesis game is actually referred in Japan with the subtitle Rocket Knight Adventures 2, which also was used overseas in the game introduction, and it is also the true sequel to Rocket Knight Adventures, due to the stated continuity from the events of the original game on the same console, whereas the Super NES version is more of a spin-off of the same game following an alternative storyline. Like their predecessor, neither of both games were mainstream successes.
In October 2009, Konami announced they would release another sequel, titled Rocket Knight (which is the sequel to the Sega Megadrive/Genesis game called Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2, but not really a remake of the Sega Megadrive/Genesis game called Rocket Knight Adventures), made by the British developer, Climax Group. The game was released on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Steam on May 12, 2010. Nobuya Nakazato was not involved with this title in any way, though Nazakato was credited by the developers in the Special Thanks section of the game credits.
Sparkster himself has appeared as a playable character in a few recent titles, such as New International Track & Field for Nintendo DS and Krazy Kart Racing for iPhone and iPod Touch. He also has recognisable cameos in Ganbare Goemon 2: Kiteretsu Shogun Magginesu for the SNES, Snatcher for the Mega-CD, Jikkyō Power Pro Wrestling '96: Max Voltage for the SNES, Mitsumete Knight for the PlayStation, and a figure resembling him also appears in an alternate ending to Contra: Shattered Soldier for the PlayStation 2.
There was also a story of Sparkster written by Nigel Kitching in the UK-made Sonic the Comic. It was based on the Mega Drive/Genesis version of Sparkster. In an interview, Kitching said that Sparkster was the easiest game to adapt into a story, due to being similar to the Sonic the Hedgehog games. He was working on a second Sparkster story, but the plan was dropped when Fleetway were unable to obtain permission from Konami to use the character.