After sending PC and console gamers on a 90s-inspired action-platforming adventure last year, Rad Rodgers has now made its way over to the Nintendo Switch in the form of the ‘Radical Edition’. Giving gamers all new characters to play as, modes to battle across, and levels to complete, Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition essentially acts as the definitive way to experience the game. However, whilst there’s a heck of a lot on offer in this package, it does have some flaws which can make it frustrating to play through.
Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition puts you in the well-worn trainers of Rad, a young boy who’s pretty much obsessed with video games. After falling asleep during a night of non-stop gaming, he awakens to find that his console is still on – we’ve all done that, right? Well, I’m sure we haven’t been subsequently sucked into a vortex following it and put into our own video game though, which is what happens to Rad. This sets off an adventure where he has to work with his console (who’s named Dusty and has come to life, obviously) to get through this strange video game world and maybe find a way back to his own…
Sounds pleasant enough, right? Well, you’re in for a shock because whilst Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition might look and sound child-friendly, it’s actually full of crude dick jokes and swearing aplenty. It’s definitely on the more ‘immature’ end of the humour spectrum and you can expect to hear some pretty foul things throughout the adventure, though what would you expect from a game that features Duke Nukem as a playable character (more on that later)? Whilst this might sound like a criticism, it’s actually something I appreciated – I like silly and stupid humour in games, so I could laugh along with the vulgarities. Sure, some jokes felt a little short of the mark and it did feel like the writers were trying too hard at times, but the game certainly wasn’t short of laughs.
Gameplay-wise, it plays like your typical 90s action-platformer. You’ll run and jump around levels, blast at enemies from multiple angles with your weapons, and give those who come a little bit too close a clobbering. It really wears its old-school inspirations like a big badge of honour, with things like moving platforms, deadly hazards, and endless pitfalls aplenty throughout each of the game’s colourful levels. Of course, there’re plenty of enemies to mercilessly murder who follow set movement patterns too – what sort of platformer would it be without those? Each level tasks you with finding four parts of a special key to exit, so you’ll need to make sure you keep an eye out for these along the way too.
Those aren’t the only collectibles you’ll want to keep an eye out for though, with Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition’s levels full of different things to find. It might just be the gems (which give you an extra life for every hundred you find), the different power-ups for your weapons (got to love the laser blade), the secret rooms full of bonuses, or even the elusive Lion Trophy which is considered one of the hardest things to find in a level. There’s always a clear percentage of completion at the end of a level too, though there’s nothing quite as frustrating as seeing it hang around the 98% complete mark as you look for that ONE missing collectible.
Scouring the area for collectibles and secrets was one of my favourite things about Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition. I consider myself a bit of a platforming pro after the years I’ve spent playing them, so some obviously stood out clearly such as the hidden rooms behind objects or areas to fall into safely – some did require a bit more risk-taking and detective work to uncover though, so it shows the level designers really made some effort in hiding things. It’ll definitely take a few runs through each level (or a guide) if you want to find everything.
Moments will pop up during Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition where you have to… well… ‘fix the game’ by controlling Dusty. It could be a case of the game world glitching out or maybe a platform being missing, but the solution always consists of sending Dusty into a top-down section where you avoid traps and punch anything that gets in the way. They’re a neat addition to the game and they act as a change from the traditional platforming, but outside of a few puzzling elements they do start to run out of ideas a bit as you progress through the game.
Much like the classic 90s platformers, Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition has a lives system in place – there are checkpoints to use if you die during a level, but if you lose all your lives you have to start the level from scratch. It’s something gamers from the 90s will be pretty familiar with, but hey, at least you don’t have to start the whole game from the beginning, right? God, that haunted me when I was younger…
However, as the game goes on you’ll come up against some tough difficulty spikes that put a big emphasis on perfecting every little jump and hitting every enemy you encounter with absolute accuracy. An increasing difficulty is common place in platformers so it’s not out of the ordinary, but the way it comes from out of nowhere in Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition could be a bit much – especially since you restart levels when you run out of lives. Now I wouldn’t normally complain about this, but the fact that the game’s levels could be so long (one in particular took around thirty minutes to beat not including the time I spent restarting it) meant that you’d have to see a lot of the same things all over again if you made too many mistakes. I know Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition is meant to be based on an era where games were a bit more unforgiving, but given that we’re in 2019 now I was hoping they’d have balanced it out a little bit. Add to that the fact that the platforming itself doesn’t do anything too special and can feel a bit ordinary at times, and it becomes easy to find yourself tiring of the game quite quickly.
At least there are plenty of unlockables though, with the additional characters proving to be the pick of the bunch. There are some pretty recognisable faces to be seen too, with the ever-crude Lo Wang from Shadow Warrior and the iconic Duke Nukem proving to be the ones that stand out the most. Each character has their own unique ability so it’s not just a simple reskin, whilst hearing their quirky (and often vulgar) remarks never stopped being entertaining. There’re also multiplayer modes to play through which are all-new, with both co-op and competitive options in place for players – I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with them, but they’re still a nice addition for those who want to play through Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition with a friend.
One thing I have to mention is that Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition does take a hit visually on the Nintendo Switch, especially when playing on the portable mode. There’s a drop of resolution which adds a fuzzy edge to most objects and characters in the game, which becomes more obvious when you see how busy each level actually is in design. In fairness it’s all completely playable and nothing ever looks hideous, but you’re definitely going to have an inferior visual experience if you decide to play on the Switch.
Developer: Slipgate Studios
Publisher: THQ Nordic, Handy Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC