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 Entertainment System. The game stars Socks, the real-life pet cat of former U.S. president Bill Clinton, as he makes 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.
The game was one of two Socks games being published by Kaneko's United States division. The other was being developed elsewhere for the Sega Genesis, but was also never released. Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill was originally scheduled for release in the fall of 1993, but was delayed until the following year. Although Nintendo's censorship policies during this time condemned games that had "subliminal political messages" or "overt political statements", Nintendo reportedly liked the game. Development was eventually completed and it was reviewed by multiple publications, but it was canceled following Kaneko USA's closure in the summer of 1994. A prototype cartridge has entered the hands of private collectors, but the ROM 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. Socks must push Millie the dog, pet of former president George H. W. Bush, out the front door to avoid Arab terrorist felines. The bosses are caricatures of former political figures, such as Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ross Perot.
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. It is possible the title of "Rocks the House" would later be attributed to the Genesis game only, with "Rocks the Hill" attributed to the SNES version. 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, which happens to be 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 game was delayed however, as Nintendo Power later would provide a release date of June 1994 for the SNES game.
In the summer of 1994, Socks the Cat was canceled due to Kaneko's US division closing its doors shortly before the game's scheduled release. Although Nintendo's own censorship policies during the late 1980s and early 1990s condemned games that had "subliminal political messages" or "overt political statements", the game was not canceled for these reasons. In an interview with Ellen Fuog, former VP of marketing for Kaneko USA, she revealed that Nintendo "liked the idea; they liked the game. Everyone did. Most unfortunately, Kaneko did, indeed, shut down its US office around that time." Kaneko employees seem to remember the game being incomplete, however, former employees of the Realtime Associates stated the game was finished. A former employee of Realtime Associates, David Warhol, recalled the game "was very irreverent. All I remember is that we had Nixon calling in bomb raids and we had Ted Kennedy driving a car around on a bridge. Maybe it's better it didn't come out after all!"
A prototype cartridge of Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill for SNES has found its way into the hands of private collectors. In 2011, a video was uploaded to YouTube showing gameplay from the cartridge. The game ROM 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."
- "Now Playing". Nintendo Power (Volume 61): pp. 102–103. June 1994.
- "GamePro Reviews". GamePro (Volume 60): p. 100. July 1994.
- "Socks the Cat Advertisement". GamePro. November 1993.
- "Socks the Cat". Playthings. June 1993.
- "Socks the Cat Preview". Nintendo Power. May 1994.
- "SNES Central: Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill". SNES Central. 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2015-11-26.
- "Welcome to Socks the Cat Fan Club!". 2001-01-28. Retrieved 2015-11-26.
- "Socks the Cat". Chicago Tribune. 20 June 1993.
- "Socks the Cat". USA Today. 15 June 1993.
- "GamePro - Socks The Cat". GamePro. September 1993.
- Nintendo Censorship
- "Socks the cat unreleased game GAMEPLAY". YouTube. 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2015-11-27.
- "Review Crew: Socks the Cat". Electronic Gaming Monthly (59) (EGM Media, LLC). June 1994. p. 33.