Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill
|Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill|
Conceptual box art
Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill is an unreleased platform video game developed by Realtime Associates for the Super Nintendo. The game stars Socks, the real-life pet cat of former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Socks must make his way past spies, politicians, and the news media to warn the Clinton family of a stolen nuclear missile launch device. The game makes heavy use of political satire, including bosses designed as caricatures of former U.S. presidents and other political figures.
Socks the Cat was originally scheduled for release in the fall of 1993, but was delayed until development was finished the following year. Review copies were distributed to video game publications, from which it received mediocre reviews but praise for its political satire. Nintendo reportedly liked the game despite their censorship policies during the era which condemned games with political content. Socks the Cat was canceled following the closure of Kaneko's US division in the summer of 1994, shortly before its scheduled release. A prototype cartridge featuring the full game has entered the hands of private collectors, but the ROM image has not been released to the public.
The game begins with Socks observing foreign spies stealing a nuclear missile launch unit in the basement of a foreign embassy. He embarks on a journey through eleven stages through Washington D.C. landmarks like The Pentagon to return to the Oval Office in the White House and alert the Clinton family. Throughout the game, Socks must overcome the likes of foreign spies, politicians, the United States Secret Service, and the news media. The bosses are caricatures of former political figures, such as Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ross Perot. In one situation, Socks must push Millie the dog, pet of former president George H. W. Bush, out the front door to avoid Arab terrorist felines. Also, Richard Nixon calls in bomb raids and Ted Kennedy is seen driving a car on a bridge.
Kaneko originally planned two entirely different games to feature Socks, one for the Super Nintendo to be developed by Realtime Associates, and the other by another developer for the Sega Genesis. The SNES and Genesis games were both occasionally referred to as Socks the Cat Rocks the House in some early publications; however, this title would later refer to the Genesis game only. The Socks the Cat license was not owned by the Clinton family, but rather a fan club known as the Presidential Socks Partnership. Kaneko purchased the license from the fan club, with some of the profits given to The Humane Society of the United States and the Children's Defense Fund, one of Hillary Clinton's favorite charities.
Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill was first unveiled on June 2, 1993, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago. Kaneko showed off the game along with games based on Chester Cheetah and Fido Dido at a cocktail party. The first release dates provided for the SNES game ranged between the fall of 1993 and January 1994, with the Genesis game slated for November 1994. The SNES game was delayed however, as Nintendo Power later would provide a release date of June 1994.
In the summer of 1994, Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill was canceled due to Kaneko's US division closing its doors shortly before the game's scheduled release. Although Nintendo's censorship policies during the late 1980s and early 1990s condemned games that had "subliminal political messages" or "overt political statements", Nintendo liked the game. Former Realtime Associates employees have stated the game was finished. One former developer, David Warhol, stated the game "was very irreverent...maybe it's better it didn't come out after all!" At some point after its cancellation, a prototype cartridge of the game found its way into the hands of private collectors. In 2011, a five minute video was uploaded to YouTube showing gameplay from the cartridge. The ROM image contains the full game and remains unreleased to the public.
Although never released, Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill was reviewed by multiple publications who generally saw it as an average platformer albeit with excellent boss design and political satire. Nintendo Power found the boss characters to be humorous but criticized the poor controls. GamePro also praised the bosses and the satire, and gave scores of 3.0 for graphics, 2.5 for sound, 3.5 for controls, and 3.5 for fun factor (out of five possible points). Their criticisms were with the flat graphics and poor sound. Nintendo Power believed poor controls made the game challenging, but GamePro found the game easy and thought the controls "take practice but prove effective". Electronic Gaming Monthly reviewers gave an average score of 5.8 out of 10, calling it "a cute run-and-jump, claw the enemies game."
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- Nintendo Censorship
- "Socks the cat unreleased game GAMEPLAY". YouTube. 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2015-11-27.
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