game Cover
game cartridge
©1994 Konami
Release: 1994-09-15 (¥9800)
Cartridge SHVC-ASSJ
Action / Platform game

American Version
Released in America as

European Version
Released in Europe as
Sparkster is a cartoony side scrolling action game by Konami, and sequel of Rocket Knight Adventures originally released for the Sega Megadrive in 1993 (this Super Famicom episode is often considered as a spin-off rather than a direct sequel though). The evil Lioness and her growing army of wolf soldiers are taking over the opossum kingdom, and the young Flora, the king's daughter, has been kidnapped and held for ransom by the cruel invader. The protagonist of the game is Sparkster, a skilled and courageous opossum rocket knight, and his sole mission it to rescue the distressed damsel and to save the kingdom from total annihilation. But little does he knows that his arch-enemy Axel Gear, the rogue and betrayer rocket knight, has also joined forces with the assailant and will do anything in his power to make sure Sparkster doesn't succeed in his mission. Sparkster's first incredible ability is to hang from anywhere with his tail (trees, pipes and so forth), allowing him to escape dare situations, or reach inaccessible areas. Then, with the help of his trusty sword, he can slash his enemies, fire deadly beams or break through walls. But Sparkster's armor and unmistakable aviator glasses hide another secret - the opossum wears a jet-pack on his back, and holding the attack button for a few seconds gives Sparkster the incredible ability to fly through the air and reach higher platforms, or bounce off walls. The same technique can be used to unleash rocket-boost charges against the enemy. Sparkster has a few other tricks up his sleeves, such as a powerful spin attack or an equally damaging air dashing move. Sparkster consists of nine stages and features a simple password system to save the player's progress.
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Sparkster Sparkster is an interesting and imaginative franchise, and many players have drawn a strong parallel between Konami's opossum hero, and Sega's flagship character Sonic the Hedgehog. And parallel there is. The first Sparkster game was released for the Sega Megadrive in 1993 under the name Rocket Knight Adventures, and this two years after Sonic the Hedgehog. Like Sega's flagship platformer, the game featured fast-paced action and a rodent character (well, technically, hedgehogs are not rodents, but you get the point). Unlike countless other Sonic wannabes in the mid-1990s, Rocket Knight Adventures was actually wonderfully crafted and was Konami at its best. But the game never became a huge hit, which was rather unfortunate (the game enjoyed some levels of success though). Of course that didn't stop Konami, who went ahead and released a first sequel for the Super Famicom and Megadrive in 1994 simply called Sparkster. Both games were released the same month, but the Super Famicom version was the first one to hit the shelves. Although both game share the same cover art, they are two completely different games and were apparently developed by two different teams at Konami. The Super Famicom version is Sparkster arguably better, but it is often seen as a spin off, rather than a true sequel. On the same note, the Japanese Megadrive version of the game was subtitled Rocket Knight Adventures 2, and is considered as the true sequel to the first game. Then Konami abandoned the franchise until 2010, when a sequel was contracted to the British independent Climax Studio. The game, called Rocket Knight, was only released for the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network and used 3D graphics. Although this 'revival' episode looks decent, I feel that it lacks the soul and cleverness of the original games, and ends up being a generic action platformer... Finally, Sparkster made a few small cameo appearances in other Konami games, such as Ganbare Goemon 2 (Super Famicom, 1993) where he appears in a house, or Snatcher (Sega CD, 1994) where he can be seen in the Outer Heaven night club.

Teaser text from the American version:
He's one opumped opossum!
Sparkster is a jet-packin'into action as the toughest Roket Knight to ever swing a sword. grab the controls and blast through nine wild stages in your quest to rid the world of the nasty Colonel Wolfheim and his allies -- a tough pack of wolves that aren't here to dance! Oh yeah, and before you get too comfortable -- Axel Gear is here. This Rocket Knight-gone-bad has a score to settle with Sparkster. Our hero will need his REWED-UP new rocket pack and powerful new attack moves to kick Axel's tail back to the dark side of the planet. Come on. Don't waste time on games that we designed for somebody's little brother. Tahe Sparksyer for a spin and feel what real adventure is! You'll sizzle through the secret rooms in the ancient pyramid and stomp wolf hide in a midair battle. Search for the power-ups and avoid opossum-squelching traps, and see some of the most amazing boss characters ever put into a video game.

Game Staff (Copied from the American version end credits) :

Main Programmer
Axelay! Ueda

Ponce Yamamoto

Main Designer
Yada Bonsei
Nagisa Chan
Sato Noriyoshi

Sound Design
M. Ikariko
M. Matsuhira
Y. Yamane
A. Yamaoka
Package Design
K. Namba
Y. Nozawa

Special Thanks
...And All Konami Staff
J. Blaustein

K. Tom


(c)1994 Konami
All Rights Reserved


Sparkster manual
Click on picture to enlarge

Difficulty levels and endings
Sparkster's last two stages can only be unlocked by adjusting the game's difficult level, giving the game a total of three different endings:

First ending (easy difficulty)
The player fighs Axle Gear in a robot battle duel and escapes with princess Flora. Game ends after Level seven.

Second Ending (normal difficulty, default)
The player unlocks level eight, fights Generalissimo Lioness and escapes with the princess as the enemy base explodes behind them.

Third Ending (hard, very hard and crazy hard difficulty)
The player unlocks level nine. After defeating Generalissimo Lioness, the player goes after a missile targeted directly at the opossum kingdom.

Crazy hard mode:
Go to the title screen and enter the setup menu. Then highlight Level and press Left, Left, Right, Right, Down, Up, Down, Up, A and X. The Crazy Hard difficulty mode should now be available.

Add your Pov here !

Sparkster somewhat felt through the cracks of popularity, and is barely known in the west. This is rather unfortunate, because it is one of the best platform/action game available for the system (and a damn good series that started on the Sega Megadrive in 1993). The cartoony graphics are colorful, very well drawn and are incredibly detailed. The enemies (and especially the jaw-dropping bosses) are remarkably animated and look breathtaking. Of course, and as expected with Konami (especially in the mid-1990s), surprises don't stop here, and you will be blown away (as I was) on how varied the game is. For instance, soon after the first stage, Sparkster effortlessly rides a giant robotic ostrich, and, later in the game, one level turns into a fast-paced vertical shooter! Sparkster is Konami at its very best, and the game showcases incredible level design (and some really clever uses of the Super Famicom hardware and sprite deformation effects), as well as flawless controls and a superb and truly memorable soundtrack. Let me warn you though, this game is hard - some levels are incredibly challenging and feature really unfair checkpoints. All in all, an excellent and wonderfully inventive game, and a great addition to the Sparkster series.

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