Rad Rodgers: World One [official site] is a platform game about a ruff and tumble dude and his sentient console who has a rude ‘tude as they jump and blast through colourful ’90s-style platform levels. It exists at an intersection of my taste, where my like of platformers meets my dislike for forced nostalgia and humour that mistakes crassness for jokes. It had a successful Kickstarter earlier this year, it’s in early access now, and there’s a trailer and some brief thoughts below.
If any of that looks familiar, then it was meant to. Rad Rodgers is aiming to revive ’90s platformers and seems particularly enamoured with Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, an Amiga platformer about a similar-looking young, blonde kid with a gun named Ruff Rogers. I remember playing it at the time and finding it too hard for my tiny hands.
Rad Rodgers has a few differences, mainly in Dusty, your wise-cracking (read: swearing) console who rides on your back and performs your melee attack, and his ability to enter the “pixelscape”, a second dimension you must enter periodically to “repair glitches” in order to unlock routes back in the platform world. Otherwise, for the thirty minutes I just played it was much as I remember Ruff ‘n’ Tumble to be – shooting, jumping, gem collection – albeit with a lot more blood.
This will clearly be enough for some people, but it’s not for me. For starts, I think it’s retrograde in negative ways: platform games feel generally better now than they did in the early ’90s, and if anything I think Rad Rodgers lacks the slippy-slidey momentum that made Ruff ‘n’ Tumble fun to control.
Further to that, Rad Rodgers is made by Interceptor, one of the many companies who have revived elements of 3D Realms, and a lot of their talk about the game pitches it as a revival of something forgotten. From the press release, creative director Frederik Schreiber says that when he grew up, “a new platformer came out every month, each with different fun characters and twists. But now the genre is mostly abandoned, with rare standouts like Braid, and the puzzle-focused Limbo.” That seems like it’s ignoring plenty of great platformers that came out this past year, and heck, it looks like four (of who-knows-what quality) came out on Steam today alone. They all seem possessed by one retro spirit or another, too.
Simply making a retro platformer is not enough for most people now, I think, and I’d guess that Rad Rodgers: World One is instead a game for people who only want a very narrow kind of platformer. That’s fine! It has some nice explosions.
The game is available from Steam and GOG for £9ish, with the final release of World One due on December 1st. The development of World Two (an ice world) was an unreached stretch goal for the Kickstarter, so presumably now depends on the success of this (seven level-long) first game.