SPARKSTER / Konami / SNES



Sparkster is the follow-up to Rocket Knight Adventures on the Genesis; they made a Sparkster for the Genesis too, but it's a sort of bastardized version of this one.

The game stars the same opossum inexplicably decked out in knight armor and with a jetpack. The gameplay is very similar to that of the Genesis prequel; I don't remember exactly what the differences were, but they must have been pretty minor. It's a pretty standard platformer, Sparkster swings his sword and shoots little light beams out as his primary attack, but he can also charge up a power bar that causes him to dash with his jetpack. This time out you're fighting an army of wolves instead of an army of pigs, but there's plenty of recycled elements, and the game is actually somewhat questionable as a real sequel.



Sparkster came about during the blitz of post-Sonic Furry Platformers (With Attitude!), and you can definitely see the Sonic influence in this one. Aside from the obvious focus on a speedy dash attack that scrolls the screen very quickly (though it's never as sustained here as it can be in the Sonic games), the levels are also structured in a similar way, with heavy use of pits, spikes and other instant death traps.

The majority of the Sonic clones of the early 90s are really best forgotten, but Sparkster maintains a small cult following, due mostly to being designed by the Treasure guys while they were still with Konami. This game is definitely Treasure to a T - you get all the color, the graphical effects, the clever and visually impressive boss battles, the short levels that usually serve only as a death-trap-laden afterthought to the boss battles, the requirement of dying a bunch of times and memorizing the levels to get through, the somewhat finicky and cumbersome play control, and the nasty (and frequently unfair) difficulty that you can expect with any Treasure game.



Sparkster has very impressive graphics for the time, an OKish soundtrack, and some inventive levels and bosses. The major failing of it is in Sparkster's special power, the rocket boost, around which the game centers. As in Sonic the Hedgehog, you are constantly punished for trying to use the thing that makes the game fun. Either there's a bunch of spikes or something placed strategically so that you'll run in to them if you boost, or you go ricocheting around at some bizarre unpredictable angle and either end up falling on some spikes or just getting nowhere.

The level design is also pretty shabby here, and this isn't my anti-Treasure bias or whatever here, I mean the levels just have some sub-par, thoughtless structuring. There's a horrendous stretch near the end of the game where you traverse a badly designed pyramid level with a lot of cheap, broken garbage, then move on to a hanglider level that offers virtually no challenge and has long stretches where you sit and simply do nothing of all for stretches of thirty seconds at a time, to a clumsy Rock Em Sock Em Robots battle out of nowhere (I shit you not), to this retarted run through a torpedo tube where you have to literally stop every two seconds to duck a slow-moving missile or die instantly, on to a fight on a rising column of flame with some robo-wolf where if you dash you get caught in a glitch and have to reset the game, redoing all the aggravating shit you just sat through! Whee!

This game is really Treasure at its near-worst ... just throwing in every "clever" idea they can think of haphazardly, with no regard for whether the player is actually having fun, or whether it fits in well with the play control. It looks good and it has some fun moments here and there, but it's way too inconsistent and frustrating to be considered anything more than mediocre.


Yes, it is an impressive effect for 1994.
Yes, it is incredibly tedious.

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