I’m a child of the ‘90s, and this is the era where I can trace my passion for gaming back to. I got to grips with numerous classic consoles (most of which have been scaled down in size and re-released more recently) and countless quality games. Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition is heavily influenced by platformers from the ‘90s, and could easily pass for a release from that decade. It’s a certainty there will be an audience perfect for this game, but can Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition hold its own against those who inspired it’s very creation?
One thing this game has is attitude, and lots of it. One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is if you would like your playthrough to be censored, or contain lots of naughty words. I’m sure you can guess which option I went with. Not only is the dialogue a tad blue, it also manages to be funny and cheesy all at the same time. Occasionally the characters will even break the fourth wall, any excuse to crack a cheap joke here.
Anyway, as you may have already figured out, you play as the titular Rad. He loves video games, and spends pretty much all of his time playing them. After being forced to turn off his console by his Mum and head to bed, his TV suddenly switches on and sucks him right into the game world. Game on!
In each level there are green gems to collect, which replenish a life when you reach 100, as well as four exit chunks which you’ll need to finish the level. Each area is stuffed with secrets and you’ll be scored depending on how well you play. In typical ‘90s platformer style, all the stats are on screen, or will appear when you pause the game, by hitting +. You can also change your playable character at any time from the pause menu, and will unlock more as you play. There’s a pretty famous asskicker you’ll be able to play as early on too, which is a very pleasant surprise.
Just to be clear, what we have here is a classic “run and gun” platformer. Rad can fire with Y or ZR and your companion, Dusty, has a special slam ability which is triggered by pressing A; differing slightly for every character you play as. You can jump with B, and hold ZL together with the right thumbstick to aim before you fire. Also, your gun has a coloured bar on the side to show how much ammo you have left. There are power ups that upgrade your gun for a short time, including rapid fire and explosive rounds amongst others. X is the “use” button and allows you to talk to people and go through doors amongst other things.
Dusty is the only one who can enter the pixel verse though, a region that exists behind the gameworld from where glitches can be fixed in order for Rad and Dusty to progress. There’s some nice variation to these sections so it doesn’t get repetitive. It’s a shame however, that despite how badass characters act, they are hurt by any quantity of water. You can’t swim or even touch it, because if you do you’ll take damage. Regardless of whether this is faithful to classic platformers or not, it feels unnecessarily irritating.
Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition has loads of unlockables to find as you play, including hats, characters and plenty of other secrets. These are hidden throughout the levels and you’ll have to be extremely thorough to find them all. You travel between levels via the world map (think Donkey Kong Country and you get the idea) and each level also has online leaderboards for the competitive amongst you. After each main level, you’ll play a side stage such as “Pinball Madness” which mixes things up, and changes around the gameplay ever so slightly. Another of these levels, “Pogo Vertigo 2”, proves very frustrating and feels like an absolute lottery when trying to complete it, and it should be said that these side stages are a mixed bag. Oddly, Rad will still shout “We did it!” or “Another level on the bag!” If you fail to complete them. When you’re struggling it gets very annoying.
As well as the main game, which can be played solo or in couch co-op mode, there is a battle mode to get your teeth into. Here you can fight against your friends, rather than trying to work alongside them. You’ll start with four hearts each, and have to outgun your opponent. It’s extremely simple stuff, but a nice distraction from the main story.
Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition looks and sounds the part, presented as if it has warped to us straight from the 1990s. The lush cartoon backgrounds are accompanied by the action in the foreground displayed in all it’s pixelated glory. Even the checkpoints are little floppy disks, and just recognising them makes me feel old. Some screens will also purposely load nice and slowly just as they would have back in the day. The music is punchy and fast paced with some synthy beats, and overall it’s pretty pleasing on the ears.
What is slightly alarming, is that I found myself already at 6% complete after just the first level. The stages themselves are of a decent length, but there just aren’t enough of them. Considering the asking price is £26.99, there isn’t enough here for your money. In one sense, it is fairly generic, one of the playable characters from the game world is called “inhabitant”, for example. It’s got all the usual platforming elements and doesn’t do anything new in that respect. However, it’s got lots of attitude and tongue in cheek humour, is loads of fun to play and hard not to like.
Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition on Nintendo Switch hits the nail on the head in terms of target audience, is entertaining and oozes irresistible charm. However, there’s not enough game here for your money and platforming fans will have seen it all before. It’s tough to recommend as a must-have, but it will earn a place on the gaming shelf for many.
Release date: Feb 2019
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)
Massive thanks to: THQ Nordic