23rd Feb2018

‘Rad Rodgers’ Review (PS4)

by Emma Rees


Rad Rodgers is a 3D platformer inspired by games from the early nineties, such as: Conker the Squirrel on the Nintendo 64, Commander Keen on MS DOS and Ruff ‘n’ Tumble back on the Commodore Amiga. Those who played Conker the Squirrel will remember it for resembling a cute, kid friendly platformer that was actually full of adult humour and foul language. It both shocked and amused audiences back in the day, and Rad Rodgers aims to rekindle those memories and feelings. Players who want a more kid friendly experience can turn off the foul language and blood effects. It is worth noting that since its original 2016 release, Rad Rodgers has been updated with new enemies, new levels, a couple of mini bosses, redesigned puzzles, new unlockables, a leaderboard and a new weapon.

You play as a boy called Rad who prefers playing video games to cleaning his teeth and going to bed. One night Rad’s console, who he affectionately calls Dusty, turns itself on and when he goes to investigate, gets sucked inside his TV. He awakens inside a video game world where he meets an obnoxious, sentient console called Dusty, who tells him that the Elder Tree has ‘gone mad’. Most of the tree’s children have also gone mad and are running amok all over the place. Dusty latches onto Rad, helping him to smash things and to climb up some walls and ledges.

There are three difficulty settings to choose from: Easy, Normal or Hard, all of which have a handy list describing the differences you will experience. There is also a game manual in the ‘help’ section which tells you about the characters and collectibles and is reminiscent of the way that manuals used to be. All it’s missing is that new manual smell.


The first thing you will notice is how vivid and cartoonishly detailed the world is. The colours pop and the backgrounds are lively with animation, though not so much that it becomes a distraction. For those perfectly captured in game moments, a photo mode is included where you can alter the camera angle, focal distance, and the colour grade.

As far as gameplay goes, Rad Rodgers is your typical cliched platformer. The controls are simple and responsive and you have a gun to shoot enemies which has various powerups to find. Laser blade, Phoenix Cannon and Rapid Fire, name a few and are really satisfying to use as they dispatch enemies much faster. Firemodes can be swapped out and ammo count is shown on the side of magazine rather than on the screen itself.

In each level there are hidden areas with goodies to discover. There are gems scattered throughout levels which, in true old skool fashion, will earn you a 1up. Other collectibles include hats, which are wearable, and lion trophies. Some of the tree children who somehow escaped the corruption, are hiding out in tree trunks and will give Rad whatever item they are holding onto if they are discovered. The most important objects to collect are the four ‘exit chunks’ which make a key to finish the level. Exit chunks often require solving some light puzzles or successfully clearing obstacles to reach them. Some parts of a level are made impassable by ‘glitches’ that only Dusty can fix by entering the Pixelverse and solving the puzzle within.


The Elder Tree’s corrupt children shoot some sort of magic at Rad and will also hurt him if they touch him. Rad has a health meter which is indicated by hearts and can be restored by (you guessed it) finding floating hearts. The mechanic is more forgiving than some other platformers because even when all of the hearts are depleted, he can survive another hit. Rad also starts off with a set number of lives which he can increase by finding spinning Rad tokens. If all lives are lost the level can simply be restarted. There are checkpoints throughout levels, in the form of floppy disks, which even make the ‘floppy disk drive’ sound when they are activated.

Completing the first level introduces you to the World One map, which is the only map there is. The design and catchy level names are reminiscent of Donkey Kong Country’s world map from the Super Nintendo. On the world map you can revisit levels and see which ones you have earnt gold on by getting a hundred percent. Clearing all enemies and finding all collectibles will contribute towards the percentage of level completion. You can also bring up the leaderboard to compare scores to other players.

There are some levels on the map which are like bonus levels and play in the style of a vertical jumper. In these stages, Rad uses a pogo stick and the aim is to get as high as possible whilst avoiding all the obstacles. Anybody who has played an endless jumper will know just how addictive they can be and you may find yourself retrying more than a few times.


Although there isn’t that much of a narrative, the voice acting is great. If you think that Dusty sounds familiar, it’s because he is voiced by none other than Jon St. John who voiced Duke Nukem and has also featured in a host of other popular games.

Some of the dialogue does come across as more cringe inducing than funny but the thing is, whether you turn the swearing off or not; one could argue that it successfully emulates the bold, sometimes immature humour that amused children back in the nineties. These children may have long since grown up and surpassed the stage of laughing at swear words and blatant sex jokes, but when viewed purely as a nostalgic throwback, it works.

The soundtrack, which is a mix of synthwave and rock, gives off even more of a retro vibe; especially the ‘beeps and boops’ sound effects which are inspired by the Commodore era.

Rad Rodgers is short enough that it can be completed in one sitting, although the added challenge of earning gold on levels could increase playtime. Gameplay wise it doesn’t particularly stand out; it’s your standard 3D platformer. The soundtrack and voice acting is great and it’s bright, colourful environments really pop. Rad Rodgers is a game which awakens the inner child and induces heavy nostalgia, but some players may find the adult humour and the gameplay lacking by today’s standards. Still, for those who grew up in the Commodore and Nintendo 64 eras, Rad Rodgers is worth checking out.

***½  3.5/5

Developed by Slipgate Studios and published by THQNordic, Rad Rodgers is available to download now on the PS4.

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