A Platformer Lacking In Uniqueness
Fuelled by 90s nostalgia, Rad Rodgers: World One is a fun, challenging platformer thrust forward by crude humour, gunplay and a non-linear level structure. At only 4 hours, the game is somewhat of a fleeting experience and during this time there’s a distinct lack of imagination in the level design, with most of the 8 levels soaked in neon. Rad Rodgers quickly loses what little appeal it had going for it early on, failing to innovate beyond the initial premise of breaking the fourth wall, satirising the platform genre and blasting through the levels making for a largely unremarkable experience.
The game begins with a simple comic book style cut-scene where we’re introduced to Rad, a teen who spends far too much time playing video games. After falling asleep, Rad is sucked into his video game with crude companion Dusty who equips him with a gun and a mission to blast his way through a series of increasingly challenging levels. It’s a basic set up and for the most part, serves as a means to drive the narrative forward in the game. Rad Rodgers predominantly focuses its attention on the gameplay and it’s here that you’ll either love or hate this platformer.
The neon-aesthetic flows through all 8 levels
In a bid to bring some innovation to this tried-and-tested genre, Rad Rodgers splits its levels up into finding 4 sections of a wheel that acts as a key to unlock a doorway to the next world. Instead of the usual left to right shenanigans, Rad Rodgers forces you to explore every nook and cranny in each of the levels, finding the different sections to collect all 4 pieces to move on to the next world. This regularly means repeating long platforming sections and persevering through some of the time-based obstacles to try and figure out where to go next.
Early on this isn’t too much of an issue but as the game wears on and the platforming becomes trickier, even across the 4 hour playtime there just isn’t much in the way of variety within these levels. Each section has a highly saturated aesthetic, neon-glows and an array of obstacles to jump and blast through with a lot of busywork in the background. Early on this makes for quite the visual treat but with each level feeling very similar in set-up and having to repeat these sections multiple times through backtracking and figuring out which way to go becomes tedious quickly. It’s not helped by a lack of on-screen prompts to show where to go which make each level more confusing than it should be for the sake of non-linearity.
Along with traditional platforming, Rad Rodgers utilizes gunplay to blast through enemies
While navigating through the conventional platforming sections, Rad Rodgers mixes things up with its gunplay that’s used to blast through waves of enemies. These vary from the usual array of monsters you’d expect including flying insects and orb-throwing archers to less conventional heavily armoured, monstrous rhinos. While the variety is certainly welcome here, the method to defeating each is sadly lacking, regularly devolving to firing constant streams of bullets until they dissipate into a purple collectable used to restore energy.
For those who like completing games to 100%, Rad Rodgers is littered with secret areas, collectables and all manner of items that give publishers like Ubisoft a run for their money. While this helps to pad out the levels and gives an excuse to run back through again, there’s not really anything particularly rewarding or interesting given for completing this task other than a satisfying 100%. Collecting 100 gems do build up your lives and collecting extra lives themselves certainly make life easier for yourself but destroying every enemy and collecting meaningless special hats and items just feel like busywork rather than being meaningful to the game.
The game has a crude sense of humour through most of its playtime
The biggest problem with Rad Rodgers, coupled with the level design and lack of variety in the aesthetic, is the unforgiving way the game punishes you for dying. With only a handful of lives and some really tricky platforming sections and boss fights, if you lose all your lives you’re forced to replay the entire level again, resetting all collectables and work done, further emphasising the need to grind through these sections again.
With 8 full-length levels, a few boss fights and a couple of optional mini-games, Rad Rodgers: World One is a fleeting, lacklustre affair, lacking the polish and charisma needed to really pull off its interesting premise. With so many platformers out there, it’s difficult to really recommend Rad Rodgers or see anything particularly innovative or defining here that hasn’t been done better elsewhere. While the game does have its moments and the crude, fourth-wall breaking humour helps to give the game a much needed identity, there just isn’t enough here to recommend this as anything but a mediocre, average platform game.
Verdict - 5/10