“Playing Rad Rodgers is like being kicked in the face with nostalgia and explosions.”
It has been a LONG time since edgy, 90s-style platformers have really made an impact on me. The last, perhaps, was Conker, back in the days of the original Xbox. Those days, I think I enjoyed the game both for its quality, and for the fact that if my parents had fully understood what it was then I probably wouldn’t have been playing it. Rad Rodgers, developed by Slipgate Studios and published by THQ Nordic, feels different. Now, it seems I have a new-found appreciation for a platforming title that has the kahunas to say what it thinks and do what it wants. That line in itself describes exactly what Rad Rodgers is all about.
First off, Rad Rodgers is not for kids. There is an option to censor some elements of the game, but in its true form you should expect bad attitudes, bad language and badass-ery of a more adult nature. As such, Rad Rodgers is fully intended and designed to be a nostalgia trip for gamers returning to a genre gone by.
Players take on the role of Rad, a young boy who plays too many video games in his bedroom at night when his mother has told him six times already to go to bed. Relatable. Empathy-inducing as this backstory may be, Rad experiences the reality of what most of us now-grown-up-kids could only dream about; he gets sucked into his game. Rad’s old games console, aptly nicknamed Dusty, sucks him into the video game world through a vortex which appears in the middle of the night. Along the way, said trusty-console becomes your sentient, foul-mouthed companion for the adventures ahead, sticking by your side throughout the dangerous and action-packed escapades which follow.
Playing Rad Rodgers is like being kicked in the face with nostalgia and explosions. Armed with a modifiable weapon called the Bolt Blaster, which is perhaps best described as a lethal SMG-turned-hand cannon, the player must jump, climb and blast their way through a corrupted jungle world. The guardian of this world, the Elder Tree, is failing, leaving Rad and Dusty as the unlikely heroes who must save the day. Packed to the brim with over-the-top traps, obstacles, and enemies, this objective is no easy feat, and the two must work together using their distinct skills and abilities to succeed.
The world of Rad Rodgers is bright, action-packed and challenging, but at the same time, it feels familiar as a fan of the platformers of old. As such, it feels as though the developers know you, the players, and have worked hard to create exactly what you would expect from their game. Add a dose of pop culture references, spicy humour and a retro soundtrack that would be envied by many of the games that inspired this title, and you have quite the attractive packaged. This world feels amazing to be a part of as you play, and its intelligent gameplay systems only push it further.
Predominantly, the player controls Rad throughout the game. At times, however, the corruption of the game world means that only your electronic companion Dusty can clear an obstacle in your path. This is where you must enter The Pixelverse; a part of the world outside of space and time where Dusty can clear the corruption in Rad’s path by completing often tricky puzzles. This is a great use of the world as a part of the game’s story and justifies many of the development choices behind both story and aesthetics.
A game like Rad Rodgers would be woefully incomplete without secrets to find, bosses to battle and a small arsenal of extreme weaponry with which to defeat them. Fun Easter eggs are hidden throughout the game world, meriting the player aesthetical customisations and sometimes useful rewards. These are often highly challenging to obtain, however, staying true once again to the games which inspired them. The bosses are unique and pose a significant difficulty spike over the minor enemies in the game.
The variety and different means of defeating these opponents makes every level in Rad Rodgers feel fresh, challenging and, in some cases, hard. In most games, too hard would be an issue, but anyone who is playing Rad Rodgers for some level of nostalgic enjoyment of the genre-renewing game will know that hard is what these games should be all about. Rad Rodgers visibly understands its audience in this way, but at the same time no task is intrinsically over-difficult.
On the whole, there is nothing really wrong with Rad Rodgers at all. It is a simple game with a simple goal; to bring a fresh aesthetic to a classic genre model and recapture the love of the fans which appreciated its predecessors in the past. It does this perfectly, with the right levels of challenge, attitude and visual excitement to spike the player’s endorphins from level to level. The bright, cartoonish visuals are supported by an outstanding soundtrack and consistently extreme gameplay. Thrilling weaponry is available to help the player overcome deadly bosses and a number or gadgets and mechanics that are simply too entertaining to spoil carry the story from moment to moment with a refreshing twist at every transition. Couple all of this with entertaining characters and intelligent design features and Rad Rodgers has a wealth of merits to offer players who love its genre of choice. The only downside? The price, perhaps, which is a little more than your passing nostalgia tripper might want to slip from their pocket book. Nevertheless, it is by no means extortionate, and at the very least deserves a place on your wish list!