There is absolutely nothing new in Rad Rodgers. There, I’ve said it. All you people after unique gaming experiences, pass on by, this is not the game for you. Mind you; I don’t think there is any game for you. Nearly every game copies and borrows from other games, movies, or other media. Rad Rodgers may copy nearly every element from other sources, but it wears that as a badge of honour. The graphical style, gameplay, obstacles, music, 4th wall breaks, story elements, they have all appeared in other games. While it may not bring anything new to the equation, what it does bring is a load of fun.
Rad Rodgers is a 90s inspired, 2D action platformer. You play as Rad, a boy who is sucked into his TV and finds himself within his own game. After a swish cutscene, featuring the first of many risqué jokes and 4th wall breaks, you’re introduced to the game world and given your weapon. It is a forest-like world, lush with greenery, streams, and waterfalls. On each level, you are tasked with collecting 4 pieces that unlock a door at the end of the area. While you can proceed by just collecting these items and making it to the end of the level, the game will actually grade you on how many gems you collect, finding secret areas, hidden hats, and lion heads, as well as how quickly you finish. All of this can lead to some serious competition on the leaderboards for each level.
The competition to top those leaderboards could turn out to be quite fierce as this is a tough game. The game’s difficulty is impressive; not quite Cuphead hard, but it will challenge most gamers. There are lasers that will kill you in one hit, enemies that take a bucket-load of ammo before succumbing and dying, and all of this is in addition to platforming sections that require precision and expert timing. If you really want to climb those leaderboards, though, you will be required to play each level multiple times as you learn where all the collectables are and steadily reduce the time it takes you to do all this. There may only be around 10 levels in the game, but if you want to 100% Rad Rodgers (without cheating and looking for guides on YouTube), it’s going to take a lot of commitment and days worth of play.
While at first look, Rad Rodgers may seem like a title aimed at kids, it most definitely isn’t. As well as a difficulty level beyond younger gamers, the game is packed with crass humour and bad language. Dusty, the sentient games console you carry around with you, is voiced by Jon St. John who is best known for the providing the dulcet tones of Duke Nukem. And it is that 90s gaming hero that provides a good reference for the type of humour in the game. There are options in the menu to turn off the blood and censor the humour (via bleeps obscuring any obscenities), but this vulgarity and churlish humour do add to the charm of the game.
Rad Rodgers arrives on Xbox One with a more succinct title (it was called Rad Rodgers: World One on PC) and slight gaming improvements (new boss battles, a couple of improved puzzles, etc.). It’s a game that knows what it is and relishes in it with tongue planted firmly in cheek and a gleefully potty mouth. Controls are tight, and though I died repeatedly it was never because the game was unfair, it was always because my skills didn’t meet the challenge on those occasions. While it’s not the game that is going to convert people who don’t like platformers, it is a great, modern example of the genre.