Retro platformer Rad Rodgers, about a year after its Steam debut, has leapt to consoles with the release of versions for Xbox One and PS4.
Developer Interceptor doesn’t try to hide the fact that Rad Rodgers is inspired by the platform games that came before it. That’s nothing new, but very often I see developers – especially indie developers – go the 8-bit route for an NES-type of visual style. I completely understand since a lot of these are productions by a small (or even one man) team, but I have fond memories of 16 and 32-bit platformers as well. Rayman’s a good example, but so are games like Jazz Jackrabbit, Heart of Darkness, Rocket Knight, Turrican, Earthworm Jim and Donkey Kong Country. All of those were released in the nineties, and that’s the era that Rad Rodgers pays homage to.
Don’t be fooled by Rad Rodgers’ colorful visuals though – this is not a game that’s meant to be cute. A lot of that can be attributed to protagonist Rad’s sidekick and narrator Dusty, his old console who has come to life. Apparently the transformation gives him a bit of a potty mouth too, as a lot of the humor in the game is of the more adult variety.
The platforming itself is excellent, though it doesn’t revolutionize or at least modernize like the last two Rayman titles did. It’s up to par with those hallmarks of excellence in terms of graphics and animations though, as Rad Rodgers is one of the best looking 2D platformers you can find on the market today. Between this and Max – The Curse of Brotherhood, fans of the genre suddenly have two great options with stunning graphics.
The gameplay itself is mostly standard platforming fare, with a handful of weapons to aid you and a control scheme that feels tight and forgiving enough to never become frustrating. In addition to platforming, there are also Pixelverse levels in which you control Dusty and are faced with small puzzles to solve. The console release also features a couple of bonus levels, but more on those later.
While Rad Rodgers scores high on the nostalgia factor, it does fail to get a little more creative with its formula. I’ve mentioned Rayman before, but both Legends and Origins were masterfully crafted when it came to mixing up the gameplay – even between “normal” platforming levels. The current release does improve on this from the PC original, but there is still a relatively limited amount of diversity in its content. Luckily, what’s there is good, and fun to play as well.
Also, those who keep an eye out for what happens on Steam might have noticed that this game was previously released under a slightly different title, Rad Rodgers: World One. While that would insinuate an episodic format or the fact that a sequel might be on the way, the current console version is actually more of an expanded version of that original PC title. Some of these new features include the usual window dressing like hats to wear and online leaderboards, but for the console version Rad Rodgers also received a handful of new levels, enemies and bosses. Some of these new levels even bring a new game type, with tons of verticality as you try to head up a tower using a pogo stick. All of these are changes for the better, though the game also has a higher price tag because of them.
Despite the price bump, Rad Rodgers is still a very affordable little platformer with tons of personality for those who were playing and enjoying platformers back in the nineties. Sure, there is plenty of untapped potential for a possible sequel, but if you’re one of those people who fondly remember the games that inspired this one, you can’t go wrong here.