Rocket Knight Adventures

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In about 0.1 seconds, this pig and his mech will be very unhappy.


Just look at him: he's a knight with a jetpack! YOU CAN'T TOP THAT!!!

Zebulos, a Magical Land full of Funny Animals in the world of Elhorn, has a problem. Long ago, during the reign of El Zebulos, the first monarch, an invading power used a giant warship called the Pig Star to wreak havoc. They were defeated at great cost, and the dreaded Pig Star was placed under a magical seal to keep future enemies of Zebulos from using it. Since then, the descendants of El Zebulos have kept the Key to the Seal safe, and an elite order of fighters, the Rocket Knights, was founded to protect the royal family from harm. Sparkster, the current leader of the Rocket Knights, came to power after a traitorous Knight, Axel Gear, killed his superior. He banished Axel Gear, but this proved to be a bad move. Our story begins when Sparkster, hearing of a new invasion, speeds to the capital to find that Axel Gear has returned as the stooge of the aggressive Devotindos Empire and kidnapped the Princess while the Empire's troops burn the castle, hoping to get the Key to the Seal as ransom. What Axel Gear doesn't know is that only the Princess herself knows where the Key is...

Rocket Knight Adventures is a side-scrolling action platform game series by Konami with diverse and distinctive gameplay mechanics such as short-range jetting in eight directions (including ricocheting off walls and around corners), charged attacks, swordplay, the occasional bit of shmup-style sustained flight, and much much more. The original game, on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, spawned two more games: Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2, a sequel also on the Mega Drive, and Sparkster, a game on the SNES which takes place in an alternate continuity. The series may owe its existence to the Sonic series, which put Funny Animal mascots in vogue and likely influenced the series's art style.

In October 2009, it was announced that Sparkster will return after a 15-year absence in a new 2.5-D adventure, tentatively titled Rocket Knight. According to the story, there haven't been any new games in the past 15 years because nothing's happened in 15 years. And when an army of Wolves attacks, Axel and the Devotindos are fighting alongside the possums. Apparently when Sparkster defeats you, you stay down.

Tropes used in Rocket Knight Adventures include:
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: Three in Rocket Knight Adventures - one of which is part of a boss battle.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: At least one per game.
  • Always Someone Better: Sparkster is this to Axle Gear.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: More subtle example. US covers actually used Japan originated promotional artwork, but edited Sparkster's anime smile into a angry scowl. Interestingly the European covers used an identical box art as the US, but edited it to reuse the original cheerful Sparkster art.
  • Anime Hair: Sparkster has some under his helmet.
  • Art Evolution: Sparkster, and to a lesser extent the other characters and the surrounding environment, have a distinctly different look in each game that goes beyond simple graphical upgrades.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Almost all bosses use some form of this trope.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Axel Gear.
  • Band Land: The sixth level in Sparkster for the SNES is composed primarily of giant musical instruments, in a rather odd contrast to the grim, warlike (if still somewhat whimsical and cartoonish) feel of most of the other settings.
  • BFG: Axel Gear comes at you with one in Stage Six of the original game. Also doubles as a Wave Motion Gun.
  • Black Knight: Axel Gear is a marginal example.
  • Call to Agriculture: Apparently what Sparkster was doing in those 15 years before the 2010 game. Even got himself a family.
  • The Cameo: Sparkster appeared as a cameo in several Konami games, such as Snatcher, Contra, Mitsumete Knight, Ganbare Goemon 2, and New International Track and Field. Most oddly of all, a human version of Sparkster appears in Konami's Jikkyou Powerful Pro Wrestling '96 : MAX VOLTAGE, where he bears a passing resemblance to Hulk Hogan.
  • Chain-Reaction Destruction: Bosses and minibosses are prone to that and being non-mechanical won't save them for that.
  • Climax Boss: Axel Gear. Especially when you face him head-to-head with no mechs nor anything.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: In Sonic the Comic. Its storyline was set after the games, after Sparkster has left Elhorn for a long time and then returned to find the Princess is brainwashed and the country occupied by new reptilian invaders. This adaptation had a few grimdark elements, one of the opening panels of the conquered nation being two former knights involved in a bloody street fight for a crowd.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • In Rocket Knight Adventures 2, Axel Gear's mech can do one thing that Sparkster's can't: fire a projectile from its chest. But it's easy to guard, and his mech is temporarily immobile after using it, pretty much guaranteeing you a free hit.
    • In the same game, when you get to face Axel in a head-to-head fight, he creates a pincer barrier which will start closing until it gets you, Axel's attack tend to last longer than yours, and he can hover as much as he likes.
  • Convection Shmonvection: The lava areas.
  • Dark Is Evil: Axel Gear's armor is dark and he is definitely evil.
  • Determinator: After Sparkster destroys most of its body, the final boss of the first game follows him off the exploding Pig Star and keeps fighting him as they re-enter Elhorn's atmosphere.
  • Diagonal Cut: The coup de grace is delivered to Rocket Knight Adventures 2's Big Bad in this manner.
  • Difficulty by Region: Rocket Knight Adventures has the same difficulties in all regions, but with different names: Japan and Europe have Normal (Japan)/Easy (Europe), Hard, Very Hard, and Crazy Hard, while the US has Children, Easy, Normal and Hard. Notably, Very Hard and Crazy Hard require codes to unlock, but all four difficulties are freely selectable in the US version.
  • The Dragon: Axel Gear, to whoever the current Big Bad is.
  • Driven by Envy: Sparkster's promotion to leader of the Rocket Knights is what fuels Axel Gear's jealousy.
  • The Empire: The enemies in each game are part of one.
  • Enemy Mine: Sparkster and Axel Gear and the pigs vs. the wolves in Rocket Knight.
  • Eternal Engine: Due to the fondness of the series for ridiculously huge war vehicles and mechanical fortresses, a large proportion of its levels are some sort of variation on this.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Sherry in the first game definitely counts for this, as do Cherry and Flora.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: In Rocket Knight Adventures 2, the fully-powered version of the directional rocket attack involves this, as well as the non-directional one.
  • Evil Counterpart: Axel Gear, to Sparkster.
  • Eye Beams: Used by some bosses.
  • Fanfare: One of the levels has this as the background music.
  • Fat Bastard: The emperor in the first game. General Sweinhart too, once he does a Face Heel Turn.
  • Flash of Pain
  • Flying Brick: Sparkster, to the point where he actually flies in some sequences.
  • Follow The Gems
  • Funny Animal: Sparkster and most of the other people of Zebulos are anthropomorphic opossums, and the invading armies over the three games include such fauna as pigs, lizards, snakes, wolves and lions.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The giant robot bosses of the fifth stage of Rocket Knight Adventures 2 have chest-mounted turrets that look amazingly like huge, pendulous breasts. That fire out of their nipples.
  • Glacier Waif: Sparkster and Axle Gear.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Sparkster's armor is "good" blue, while Axel Gear's is "evil" purple (red in Rocket Knight). Also, there's an awful lot of green on the baddies' uniforms and vehicles.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Most non-robotic Mooks are reduced to this when you "kill" them in Rocket Knight Adventures: Their armor falls off and reveals their underwear in a manner strongly reminiscent of Ghosts N Goblins, and they run or fall off the screen with an embarrassed look on their face. Does not apply to the lizards in Rocket Knight Adventures 2, brought back (though with briefs) for the wolves in Sparkster, and applies to the pigs but not the wolves in Rocket Knight.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Rocket Knight Adventures 2 has seven golden swords the player can collect. Finding all of them unlocks Gold Sparkster and the complete ending.
  • Green Hill Zone: The first stage is a grassy plain with no environmental hazards.
  • Hailfire Peaks: In a particularly impressive example, the second level in Rocket Knight Adventures 2 manages to combine Shifting Sand Land, Lethal Lava Land, Temple of Doom and Eternal Engine.
  • Harder Than Hard: The Japanese and European versions of Rocket Knight Adventures and all versions of Sparkster contain difficulties called "Very Hard" and "Crazy Hard". As noted in Difficulty by Region above, the US version of Rocket Knight Adventures made the equivalents Normal and Hard
  • The Hero: Sparkster, of course.
  • Heroic Mime: Played with in that no character has any lines. Characters may be shown apparently conversing, but we can only infer what they're talking about by what happens immediately afterward.
  • Horse of a Different Color: There are more than a few exotic steeds in the series. Triceratops or mechanical ostrich, for example.
  • Human Cannonball: Not being enough launching yourself with a jetpack in the seventh level of Sparkster (SNES) you are shot into space with a cannon.
    • In the original Rocket Knight Adventures, the king shoots Sparkster into the pig battleship in this fashion after Stage 3.
  • Humongous Mecha: Sparkster and Axel Gear have a giant robot fight in the first game.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: The difficulty levels include names like "Child" and "Crazy Hard".
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: The enemies have a massive and varied arsenal of animal-like vehicles and autonomous machines. Also, each game features at least one boss fight where Sparkster and Axel Gear pilot giant mechs and engage in a giant-sized boxing match. Rocket Knight Adventures 2 goes further: it has an entire level that consists of driving a mech through the baddies' capital city and annihilating everything in your path.
  • I See London: Enemies are stripped to their underwear when defeated in Rocket Knight Adventures, Sparkster and sometimes in Rocket Knight.
  • Jerkass: Axle Gear, no doubt about it.
  • Jet Pack: Look at the title.
  • The Kingdom: Zebulos. Renamed to Zephyrus in Rocket Knight.
  • Large and In Charge: The emperor in the first game, although this is actually subverted as he is nothing but a robot created by the Pig Star's computer which is the REAL enemy.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Gold Sparkster and the Pig Star, at the very least.
  • Magic Knight: Sparkster and Axle Gear to a certain degree.
  • Mascot with Attitude: Sparkster. He was much more down-to-earth than others of his time.
  • Mass Hypnosis: All There in the Manual; this is how the Big Bad gets his troops.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Hardly uncommon, but interspersed with regular flesh-and-blood Mooks.
  • Military Mashup Machine: All over the place, including such oddities as space submarines whose front portions can turn into giant mechs.
  • Mini-Mecha: There are several varieties of enemies that pilot these.
  • Mirror Boss: Axel Gear, the only recurring enemy in the series.
  • The Napoleon: Captain Fleagle from the first game, who even dresses like the Trope Namer.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Axel Gear is seen playing one at the end of the aforementioned Band Land the sixth level of Sparkster for SNES.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Unlock the Crazy Hard of Rocket Knight Adventures (or just select Hard difficulty in the US version), and you'll become this.
  • Parental Abandonment: All There in the Manual; Sherry and Cherry's mother died from unknown causes years before Rocket Knight Adventures. Sparkster meanwhile is a war orphan who was raised by the Rocket Knight, Mifune Sanjulo... until Mifune was murdered by Axel Gear ten years before the first game.
  • Posthumous Character: Mifune Sanjulo, Sparkster and Axle Gear's former teacher who was killed by Axle Gear before the first game began.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: When Sparkster is chosen by their master instead of Axle Gear to lead the others, Axle Gear retaliates by killing his master.
  • Razor Wind/Sword Beam: Sparkster and Axle's swords can do this, except, for some reason, in Rocket Knight Adventures 2.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The emperor in the first game. Even more so during his Robotic Reveal and during the sequence where you have to fight multiple clones of the prototype emperor robot.
  • Rearrange the Song: The first level themes from the first game and its sequel see multiple rearrangements over the course of the series, and most of the music in the SNES game is rearranged versions of tracks from the sequel. Then rearranged again in the Rocket Knight. Orchestral style
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Most of the enemies in Rocket Knight Adventures 2.
  • The Rival: Axel Gear.
    • Rival Turned Evil: It was their master's choice to make Sparkster the new leader that led to Axel Gear's path of evil.
  • Robotic Reveal: After you fight him normally and "kill" him, Emperor Devligus Devotindos in the first game is revealed to be not only a Terminator-like robot, but one of many such robots stocked aboard the Pig Star.
  • Rule of Cool: Sparkster and the other Rocket Knights are heavily armored, sword-wielding opossums with the ability to fly about with rocket packs and fire waves of energy from their swords, not to mention occasionally piloting Humongous Mecha, flying through walls of bricks or solid steel, flying through space without a spaceship... yeah. Arguably shades into Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot territory.
  • Save the Princess
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Sparkster himself.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The side-scrolling shooter (or in one part of the Mega Drive sequel, puncher) segments contain minibosses strongly reminiscent of Gradius's bosses, to the point of having a series of shields blocking a vulnerable "core" (usually the vehicle's pilot). More speculatively, it's possible that the mech fights are intended as a Shout-Out to Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. Another boss is a shout out to the boss of the waterfall in the original Contra.
    • In the Golden Sparkster ending from the Climax Studios' game, Bill Rizer shoots at Sparkster, proclaiming revenge. This acts as a continuation of the Contra: Shattered Soldier ending with the Sparkster cameo.
  • Space Does Not Work That Way: The series has been guilty of this from time to time.
  • Spell My Name with an "S":
    • The name of the world the series takes place in is supposed to be named for the titular country in Samuel Butler's Erewhon, but because of the way the Japanese version of this got initially rendered into English, the name became "Elhorn". This appears to be treated with equal validity to "Erewhon" by fans and references, even today.
    • In the Japanese version of the games, the kingdom Sparkster lives in is called "Zephyrus", but was mistranslated as "Zebulos" in the English version and remained unchanged for years. For the new Rocket Knight game, Konami has dropped "Zebulos" for the English version in favor of the original "Zephyrus".
  • Spike Balls of Doom: Sometimes bosses and minibosses carry them.
  • Sprite Polygon Mix: Rocket Knight.
  • Steampunk: Sort of. The setting combines Steampunk elements with more traditional fantasy and sci-fi elements.
  • Super Mode: Gold Sparkster in Rocket Knight Adventures 2. His attacks do more damage and his rocket charges faster.
  • Ten-Second Flashlight: Can get pretty irritating in levels with a lot of enemies or traps.
  • Tennis Boss: The miniboss in the fourth level of the first game tosses explosives at you. You can't reach him with your normal attacks, so you have to hit the bombs back at him to damage him.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Happens very, very frequently, with Shoot Em Up and (rudimentary) Fighting Game segments breaking up the platforming.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The last normal level of each game is on an enemy space station (slightly modified in Rocket Knight Adventures 2, where it appears to be an Ominous Floating Castle in space), and the first game and the SNES game take this further by setting the final boss fight in re-entry and on a giant missile, respectively. Rocket Knight has the final level in a corrupted version of Zephyrus where the pigs have taken over and the general rules with a giant golden robot of himself. Oh Crap.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: In a rather odd example, Axel Gear always lives to fight another day, while the Big Bad always dies.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Zebulos's enemies tend to be ugly, or at least to belong to species with morally ambiguous or downright negative stereotypes.