Following a successful 2016 Kickstarter campaign and subsequent Steam release, Rad Rodgers finally blasts its way onto home consoles.
Rad Rodgers embraces a campy '90s era attitude about video games complete with plenty of bodacious and radical quips and characters. This all works to great effect, giving the player a sense of nostalgia about a time when games that weren't marketed towards kids had to present themselves as kick-ass adventures with lots of action and bloodshed. The only time this put me off was with some of the NPC dialog which regularly feels crass for the sake of being crass instead of genuinely being funny.
When you start Rad Rodgers for the first time, it asks you if you'd like to play in kid mode or adult mode. I was surprised to find just how many swear words and bloody deaths there were in the adult version which, needless to say, is a lot more than I'm used to in a 2D platformer. However, that's not a bad thing because Rad Rodgers has some serious attitude and isn't afraid to show it.
For the majority of the campaign, you play as the eponymous Rad Rodgers, a spirited young boy who is joined by his wise-cracking video game console come-to-life Dusty. Together, they'll visit a massive jungle world packed with enemies and collectibles. Once in a while, you'll come across a pixelated portion of a level that sucks Rusty into the Pixelverse. While there, you'll have to explore a small maze-like area and activate a platform or switch that couldn't otherwise be activated. It's almost like Rusty is breaking into the game's code in order to add in something that the developers didn't. There's a few fourth wall breaking jokes like this throughout.
Rad Rodgers is a blend of shooting and platforming but don't expect nonstop action similar to the Metal Slug series. Rad Rodgers is best described as a 2D platformer where instead of jumping on enemies' heads or attacking them with a sword, you blast them with your machine gun. Both the platforming and gunplay feel great and temporary weapon upgrades provide Rad with some serious firepower.
In each level, you need to collect four pieces of a medallion in order to open the exit door. Levels are mostly linear but some feature branching paths and it allows you to complete each path in the order that you prefer. You'll never get lost or need to rely on a map as Rad Rodgers does a good job of nudging you in all the directions that you'll need to go.
There are only a handful of levels in the campaign but each one is rather massive and will take you 15 to 30 minutes to complete. Along the way, there are an absolute ton of collectibles and secret areas to sniff out as well which is yet another callback to old-school platformers. If you want to go for 100% completion, you'll need to find all the gems, hats, lion emblems, and kill all the enemies in every level. You'll also have to find every secret area, many of which are extremely well-hidden.
While not terribly challenging on normal difficulty, Rad Rodgers is still a bit tougher than most modern platformers. If you die, you will be sent back to a checkpoint that may be quite far back (although you do get to keep all your collectibles) and you actually have a finite number of lives, something that is generally no longer commonplace in modern gaming.
Visually, Rad Rodgers is extremely colourful and detailed. While the environments are well-designed and nice to look at on their own, everything gets way too busy for my tastes when crammed together with all the other colourful environmental assets. It can also be hard to tell if a platform or object can be interacted with if it's just part of the foreground or background.
There's a lot to like about Rad Rodgers as it's a well-made platforming shooter fueled by '90s nostalgia. It's a bit on the short side and the visuals were too distracting for me but I'd still recommend retro gaming fans to give it a shot.
- + Great gunplay and challenging platforming
- + Tons of collectibles and secrets to find
- + Smart level design provides structure with a touch of freedom
- - Ends a little too quickly
- - Overly busy visuals detract from the nicely detailed assets