Those darned Nopino Goblins
Natsume had some fantastic games that were overlooked on the SNES, at least here in the west. Its remarkable to me that they have not only taken the time to port Wild Guns and Ninja Warriors, but also had their upgrades courtesy of Tengo Project. I was hopeful that the franchise would revisit one of my favorites: Pocky & Rocky. I was concerned that the need to license from Taito would be a barrier.
Although Wild Guns Reloaded and Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors were improved remasters, Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is more of a sequel. But it''s pretty simple: Mostly.
Pocky & Rocky Reshrined (PS4, Nintendo Switch [Reviewed]) Developer: Tengo Project Publisher: Natsume-Atari Released: June 24, 2022 MSRP: $29.99
The opening scene starts out in a rather familiar way. In fact, the opening scene is almost a repeat of the opening to Pocky & Rocky. All of the Nopino Goblins have gone berzerk once more (Pocky & Rocky is technically the follow-up to Kiki Kaikai) and Rocky the Raccoon (actually a Tanuki) requests Pocky to assist in crafting the reason.
After the second level, where the Black Mantle uncovers itself, and then we get into a twist about time travel. It feels like it shouldn''t be complicated, but I was absolutely lost somewhere along the way. It''s been told like a childs storybook, so it''s certainly mocking me.
The result is that the first two levels may be adamant that youre considering attempting a remake, as they involve many of the same beats and bosses, but the result is, nonetheless, the majority of its growth.
The issue of sequels
Pocky & Rocky Reshrined removes the mechanics from Pocky & Rocky 2. That way, it mercifully ignores Pocky & Rocky With Becky. I was pleasantly pleased with that because I felt like the sequels were lost a lot of their popularity. That''s partly because Pocky & Rocky With Becky was completely single-player.
It''s strange, but what''s really odd is that Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is locked behind having to defeat the entire single-player story mode. My wealth is absolutely incredible, and if you have visited my house on more than one occasion, chances are that I have forced you to play it with me. I planned to play this with my husband, but it''s unlikely that our schedules did not align. It''s a struggle to get out.
You have to get rid of Story Mode instead of collecting 10,000 coins, but after that, I had collected around 2,000 coins. Woof.
Only four of the characters are unlocked for Free Play when you beat Story Mode, the fifth being behind the scenes for the second time. No, you cant just play through Free Play and unlock her, but you must play the Story Mode again.
If you have never played Pocky & Rocky, this is a top-down shooter. Not a twin-stick shooter like Smash T.V., but a platform where you both walk and point your dude with the same directional buttons as Ikari Warriors. The various scenarios have different attacks, but you''ve had the capabilities to tap the projectile button for a specific attack, and hold the defense button for a shield or similar power.
Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is a ruthless run-and-gun shooter set against a mostly fadable, sometimes serene, sometimes dark backdrop. Much of it is inspired by Japanese folklore, especially the masked Yokai''s and other demons.
The sprite-work is amazing, and the additional animations make an already splendid game pop even more. For the most part, it continues to its SNES roots, although there are plenty of potential opportunities beyond the capability of that console.
If I had to complain about a certain facet of the art, its true that the first three levels are absolutely sumptuous, and then the ones that follow the look a lot more basic; like they could have been removed directly from the SNES version. Scattering leaves and deep forests give way to nothing particularly thrilling. It just feels like all the glitz in Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is front-loaded.
Sayo-chan and Manuke
Aside from that, Pocky & Rocky Reshrined isn''t as good as it could have been. There are quite old problems here, such as a small gap that leads to the experience somewhat. Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is also underwhelming, as well as some of the new enemies in the levels. It''s almost as though they explored how long they took to finish the first two levels, believing that they wouldn''t be able to complete development at that same quality before the
A few additional checkpoints make the game easier to master. In the original title, if you died, you were back to the beginning of the level. This time, however, if you make it to the boss, you may go again. Pocky & Rocky was a deceptively difficult game, so although it makes the game easier to topple in a couple of hours, I cant say I''m too upset about the added checkpoints.
I find it odd that Story and Free Play are the only modes available. There is no boss rush. The leaderboards are only for playthroughs with specific characters, but not for each stage. It just feels strangely barebones.
A love letter to fans
I suppose I was naive in posing a return for Pocky & Rocky. That maybe this might turn on a whole new generation of gamers to the series. Now, I have my doubts. Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is fantastic, but it''s not a home run. It''s more of a love letter to fans than a siren call to new players.
I don''t want to be overjoyed by it. Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is exactly as it promises: more Pocky & Rocky. I definitely prefer it to. Even though some decisions, such as locking out the co-op until the main story is completed, are staggeringly harsh. Seriously, I cannot get over it. If two people want to experience the game together, they must do it? Make sure you beat Story Mode too.
[This review is based on a retailer build of the game provided by the publisher.]