Pocky & Rocky
|Pocky & Rocky|
Box art for the North American version of Pocky & Rocky
|Designer(s)||Yoshihino Hattori (producer)
Shunichi Taniguchi (char. design)
Pocky & Rocky, known in Japan as KiKi KaiKai: Nazo no Kuro Mantle (奇々怪界～謎の黒マント?, "Mysterious Ghost World: The Riddle of the Black Mantle"), is an arcade-style scrolling shooter video game with an anime graphical style. Licensed by Taito to Natsume, who developed and published the game for release in Japan in 1992 and the rest of the world in 1993, it is the sequel to the 1986 arcade game KiKi KaiKai (unofficially released in North America as Knight Boy).
Pocky & Rocky follows the adventures of a young Shinto shrine maiden named Pocky (known in Japan as Sayo-chan (小夜ちゃん?)) and her new companion, Rocky the Tanuki, or raccoon (known in Japan as Manuke (魔奴化?)) trying to save a group of creatures known as the Nopino Goblins. It was generally well received by critics, and the graphics of the game were especially noted. Pocky & Rocky was followed by Pocky & Rocky 2.
Set in a Far East-type of world, Pocky & Rocky is about a young miko girl called Pocky who, while tending to a shrine, is visited by Rocky, a member of a group of creatures known as the Nopino Goblins. Some time ago, the Nopino Goblin went insane, but were stopped and cured by Pocky. Rocky tells Pocky that the Nopino Goblins have gone insane yet again, and that she must help them. Suddenly, Pocky and Rocky are ambushed by the Nopino Goblins, which appear to be under a spell. Together, Pocky and Rocky must unravel the mystery of who is controlling the Nopino Goblins. Throughout the game, they battle a number of creatures from Japanese myth, for instance kappas.
Pocky & Rocky is a scrolling shooter type of video game that takes place from a top-down perspective. In a Single-player game the player can choose to control either Pocky or Rocky. In a two-player game both characters are on the screen at the same time. The screen can move either horizontally or vertically and the player-controlled characters can move in eight directions.
Pocky can use her ofudas (throwing cards in the English release) to attack enemies from afar, or Harai wand (magic stick in the English release), to hit enemies close up. Likewise, Rocky can throw leaves across the screen or quickly turn his backside towards the enemy and swing his tail from side to side. Both characters can also slide across the ground, covering an area quickly. If a player bumps into the other while sliding (in a two-player game), it will cause the other player to spin out of control across the screen, damaging any enemies they come in contact with. A limited-use special attack, called "bomb" in the English language release, can be used to hit several or all the enemies present on the screen.
Although Pocky and Rocky are the same gameplay-wise, there are some differences between the characters. First of all, Pocky moves slightly faster than Rocky does. Secondly, Pocky's slide attack makes her slide faster than Rocky can, but Rocky's slide attack makes him slide further. Thirdly, Pocky's bomb attack is more powerful than Rocky's, although Rocky's bombs cover a wider area. Finally, Pocky can perform a spinning attack that can hit any enemy around her, while Rocky is able to transform into a statue, rendering him invulnerable to all attacks for a short time but leaving him immobile.
Various power-ups can be acquired that will increase the effectiveness of either Pocky or Rocky's attacks, such as making their projectiles larger or giving them the ability to throw multiple ones at once. Others include a shield that absorbs a certain number of enemy attacks, and a power-up that replenishes hit points, giving Pocky and Rocky more endurance. A floating being called "Help man" is hidden in each level and will drop some of the power-ups when found.
At the end of each of the six levels is a boss and defeating it triggers a cutscene that helps move the story forward. These scenes, though present in the Japanese and North American versions of the game, were omitted for the PAL region releases. An overview map helps the player keep track of progress when changing level. Unlimited continues allows the player(s) to restart at the beginning of the level.
Pocky & Rocky was generally well received by critics, some calling the gameplay addictive. The two-player mode was considered by some reviewers to add a lot of value to the game. In addition, the controls were considered easy to learn and easy to pick up and play. On the other hand, some reviewers experienced slowdowns in frame rate. The graphics of the game, especially the backgrounds and enemies, received praise for being colorful and well-animated, many comparing it to The Legend of the Mystical Ninja in graphical style. The special effects and weather effects in the game were also well received by reviewers. However, some critics commented the lack of parallax scrolling and Mode 7 effects. The music and sound was positively received, and many critics thought it fit the theme and setting of the game well.[a]
Pocky & Rocky spawned two official sequels and one spiritual successor. In Pocky & Rocky 2 (or Kiki KaiKai: Kayako) for SNES, Pocky and Rocky must work together once again to stop a forced marriage between a princess and a tyrant. In the second sequel, Pocky & Rocky with Becky (Kiki KaiKai Advance) for Game Boy Advance, the duo are joined by their friend Becky to stop a hydra dragon. UFO Interactive Games later released a spiritual successor to the series called Heavenly Guardian, developed by Starfish, for the PS2 and Wii systems.
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