I'm a big fan of Rocket Knight Adventures. To me, it's probably one of the best-designed videogames of all time. Rocket Knight 2010 is...surprisingly decent. I wouldn't put it on the level of the 16-bit games though.
Since I've already written the end of the review, I'm going to skip past the nonsense about plot and whatever whatever. You're an opossum with a jetpack, go fly around and hit stuff with your sword. Each of the four levels in this game are broken up into multiple stages. Typically, one stage will have the RK exploring, doing a lot of platforming, and collecting treasure while smashing baddies. Then there are the 2D shooter stages, which are pretty self-explanatory. Finally, there's the boss stages, which are also self-explanatory.
RK2010 uses a combo-based scoring system, which is pretty neat. Destroying enemies and collecting items in a short span of time can lead to big points. There are even leaderboards for showing off. It can be really enjoyable finding the perfect route for flying through enemies, their attacks, and accumulating a huge score in the process. Unfortunately, the pacing hits a snag after the second level, as the remainder of enemies in the game take multiple hits to kill. Changes in the level-design from the second level on also effect the pacing, with lots of switches to flip, timed platforms, frozen jetpack fun, and more traps. I'd rather have more of the first level, since it gives Sparkster room to do what he does best.
The controls and mechanics are very solid. Unlike the prior games, Sparkster's jetpack works with a button-press, and not hold to charge and release. It works well in this game, though he can only dash once in mid-air. Since the jet-pack recharges when not in use, I would have preferred to see unlimited boosts (as long as meter remains). Maybe it's a bad idea, since it would require extensive changes to the level-design, but it could be effective for those multiple hit enemies.
Altogether, Rocket Knight 2010 is a good game. If you're looking for an entertaining platformer and don't mind a couple minor issues, give this game a look.
But like I said in the beginning(end?) of this review, RK 2010 is the weakest of the four titles. Why? It's lacking in creativity, imagination, and...well...spark. It's a very safe game. While the 16-bit games were all handled by different directors, they threw around a lot of ideas when it came to level-design, bosses, and how Sparkster controls. Rocket Knight Adventures (the first game) took a lot of risks. It gave Sparkster all these tools, but forced him into situations where dashing around could get him killed. The player could approach the game as a straight platformer with some gimmicks, or they could employ the jet-pack to its full extent (RKA was a fairly difficult game regardless). The sequels went in different directions, employing more open-ended level design and a greater emphasis on exploration. They took a concept and a base that already worked, and made some dramatic changes.
RK2010 offers a promising concept: The pigs and wolves are working together. The enemies of RKA and Sparkster SNES teaming up? This should to a lot of cool bosses and crazy level-designs. The results however just leave a lot to be desired. There are only four boss fights in RK2010, and none of them are nearly as memorable as the final battle with Axel Gear, the pig army's supercomputer, and so on. I think RK2010 was too focused on designing encounters and levels that would make sense. They wanted a specific flow, so that players aren't thrown off by sudden shifts in level or enemy design. Instead of going through all that, why not go all out? Don't ask why the pig army has a giant mecha crab-thing in an underwater tunnel. Instead, ask why not? Along those sames lines: Why not have Sparkster run through a stage filled with giant drums, and wolves would pop out of horns? Why not fight a lizard magician on top of a battle-ship? I don't care about cohesiveness in my opossum-jetpack-knight videogame. I just want to see awesome and unique stuff.
All that ranting aside, RK2010 is still a good game, but you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you never play any of the 16-bit games.