Genre: Side Scroller | Arcade | Action Platformer
Modes: Single Player | Couch Multiplayer
Developed by: Melonhead Games
Published by: Melonhead Games
Release date: February 16 2023
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch
Platform I played on: PlayStation 5
At PAX AU last year, Adelaide based studio Melonhead Games showcased this speedy arcade platformer, which ultimately led them to win the title of the GamesHub People's choice winner at PAX 2022. As a fellow Adelaidean myself, this news was even more so awesome to hear (and the fact that more funding is going towards the video games industry here in SA). So, naturally, when the chance came around to review this futuristic hover bladin' game officially, it was a no brainer that I had to check this out even further. It had me at roller skating on rooftops with an electrifying, neon cyberpunk backdrop.
Get on your best skating shoes, we're going time crystal hunting!
Personally, I don't play a heap of side scroller platformer titles, despite the fact that some of my favourite games does include Monolith Production's 1997 2D side scroller, Claw, and Naughty Dog's marsupial mascot platformer series, Crash Bandicoot. Checking from my Backloggd journal, the last platformer I even played was a bit of Rite, and the time before that was a bit of Super Meat Boy back in September last year. So, yeah, I play this genre but not a tonne.
In this futuristic title, you're put in the chrono-kicks of a hover blading outlaw named Svetlana, who is currently on the run from an evil corporation known as Globacorp. With the hover bladin' skills you pick up along the way, you'll be able to boost, grind and warp your way through the skyscraper city, evading capture from Globacorp's evil squad. This is all while stealing as many of Globacorp scattered crystals as possible, while avoiding their gunfire attempts to stop you. With various obstacles that will require a split second decision to decide your next move, it can keep drawing you in to replay the level to beat your previous time.
With each level as well, you'll be scored from S to F, and although I didn't replay each level a lot, I can see how this may cause some burnout for players looking to get the highest score and time. The story here itself though unfortunately doesn't go too in depth which is what I was a bit more interested in, but it's clear to me the game is driven with it's zappy speed running.
The game offers three different types of modes including Arcade Mode, Party mode and Generator Mode.
Arcade Mode - Become an outlaw master with precise controls and smooth buttery physics to escape Globacorp
Party Mode - In couch multiplayer, you and 3 friends can disrupt each other in this chaotic offline multiplayer. Be the gunners or the outlaw. Happy hover blading/shootin'!
Generator Mode - Generate your next challenge with different hazards, jumps, and become the ultimate hover blading master!
Throughout your time in this game, you can equip Svetlana with a variation of Hover boots. Each hover boot has an extra bonus - whether you want more speed or to gain extra altitude, you're not just limited to one. So, try every boot and see which one is the best for you... If the boot fits.
One of the best things to say about this game though is how refreshing it is. Most platformers won't be as forgiving, and a lot of them will have you restarting the level over and over again. (I still can't talk about that one level in Crash Bandicoot 4 that took me so, SO many attempts - it's been a while so I can't recall what level, but it was towards the end of the game, and it had lava? That was my The High Road/Stormy Descent rage bursting out and I did not leave my room until I finished that level!!!)
Anyway, whether it be because you fell of the platform itself or got shot one too many times by an enemy, Rooftop Renegade provides a less frustrating experience. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a platformer with a bit of challenge and so do many other players, but this was just a huge breath of fresh air. For example if you miss a jump, there's always a platform to catch you. Instead, it doesn't matter if you miss a specific jump, you just keep going. If you're slowed down too much however, you can get caught by Globacorp but that's about it. There's a slim occurrence that you'll be caught anyway, just as long as you just keep going. Personally, I was hoping for higher stakes and that Globacorp would be slightly more of a threat, but I digress.
The controls aren't too complex, and provide an extremely smooth (and I love using this word) buttery experience. You use the buttons as you'll see in the screenshots provided for special abilities, depending on what chrono kicks you wear. You'll have to wait for these abilities to recharge as well before you can use it again. You use the analog stick to move forward, and that's about it. Depending what mode you're playing in of course, you'll also have controls if you're using a gun in multiplayer. It's straightforward controls, but it works well especially if you're attempting a speed run.
What urks me about some particular games is when there's waaaay too many controls to remember. Here, it feels like Rooftop Renegade has crafted an experience for all different players. Whether you've been playing for years or if you're new to the genre or gaming in general, I feel like anyone can kind of just jump in and play. Of course, you don't have to speed run if you don't want to, but if you're looking for a casual platformer that also allows couch multiplayer, it's still fun on it's own.
Beyond a Steel Warped
Alright, now let's dive into the overall design and graphics. The first three thoughts I had was;
"Those crystals look similar to the crystals in Crash Bandicoot"
"This reminds me of the futuristic levels in Crash Warped"
"I'm getting some Beyond A Steel Sky vibes too"
The overall art design for this game is phenomenal. From the futuristic skyscraper city backdrop to the vibrant neon palette, I don't think there's anything that doesn't work visually (at least to me anyway). Some levels are less vibrant than others, but you always stand out. From industrial buildings to being above the clouds, the levels always change it up a bit. The game also draws upon some gloomy aesthetics similar to the likes of popular neo-noir cyberpunk franchise, Blade runner. The graphics are also crisp and polished - especially on the PS5, with no glaring or frame rate issues that I came across personally.
The soundtrack was composed by John Oestmann (you can check out their work here if you're interested to hear their other music further). There are 23 electrifying songs on this soundtrack including victory screen (ambient loop) and even the loading screen. Each track provides the perfect reflection of the games atmosphere. Most tracks will also flow well with Svetlana's momentum as you're escaping Globacorp, giving you that extra pulsing kick and burst of adrenaline while you play. The soundtrack is also available on major streaming platforms including Spotify, if you're keen.
Glitches | bugs | issues
None that I've come across or noticed. It appears to be an extremely polished game from my end. Of course, this isn't to say there isn't any, I just haven't come across any personally.
Length | Replay ability
To get every chrono kick unlocked and rank to level 8, it'll take you a few short hours to do. It may be a little tedious for some, but I didn't mind it. If you're wanting to perfect and collect every trophy/achievement possible the game offers, it may take you a little longer. If you want to achieve the quickest time in every single level and get an S ranking - yeah, you might be at it for a little while longer depending on your skill level. I don't know if I will go back anytime soon, as I don't have the need to personally, nor am I too interested in speed running. Unless it's to get the time relic on Crash Bandicoot, I'm just not too interested in doing personally. Sometimes, I just don't have enough time in general. Oh, and there are so many games on my backlog to get through, I can't even tell you how many games I'm still in the process of reviewing, aye aye!
A spectacularly fluid action platformer worth checking out. If you're looking for a speed run challenge, this game may just be what you've been looking for. It's fun overall, but for some it may become a bit repetitive over time. For the length I played it for, I felt that was enough for me. Best thing about the game though? It wasn't extremely frustrating as I was expecting it to be (hooray for the mid 90's millennial not getting frustrated at a platformer title!). I was expecting a bit more from the story itself, perhaps even with some cutscenes here and there. However as I have mentioned, this game is driven by it's fast and fluid gameplay than anything else. Speed runners - you've got a contender for your next challenge.