Pocky & Rocky

Pocky & Rocky
Pocky & Rocky Cover
Platform SNES
Genre Frenzied Scrolling Shooter
MtAMinutes to Action 3
Score 7  Clock score of 7Gameplay: 7
Fun Factor: 7
Gfx/Sound: 8
Story: 6
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Pocky & Rocky is a multiplayer scrolling shooter for the SNES and developed by Natsume, the creators of Harvest Moon. It's hard to imagine the guys who made a farming simulator once worked on a fast-paced, crazy hard shoot 'em up. But they did, and here it is. The game has a lot of charisma and character, but it's super tough! I recruited my friend Hylas to help me out, much like I did for Zombies Ate My Neighbors. This game once again proves that two heads are better than one, but is the game really any good? With a name like Pocky & Rocky, how can you go wrong?

Pocky & Rocky is actually the second game in the Pocky series (Kiki KaiKai was a Japanese only arcade game featuring just our heroine Pocky), but the first in the Pocky and Rocky series starring the girl and the raccoon. There's also a new PS2/Wii game called Kiki Kai World (or Heavenly Guardian) that is somewhat of a new sequel to the series, just 15 years later. Well, who cares about those other games, this is all about Pocky & Rocky! Now, let's get it on!

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select Start and the first hour begins. The game starts telling the story of the Nopino Goblins and how evil they used to be. But Pocky put an end to that! Pocky is a girl with a giant head and varying hair colors, so far I've seen purple and brown.

Pocky And Rocky Player Select

01 - Rocky the Raccoon has arrived, something terrible has happened to his fellow goblins! They've all gone crazy and he needs Pocky's help.

02 - Suddenly, a big ugly, round goblin has appeared! But in typical fashion, instead of just fighting him immediately we head to the overworld screen. Hylas and I select the first level, The Haunted Shrine.

03 - I really had no idea what kind of genre this game falls under when I started playing, but it is readily apparent now, this is a scrolling shooter! There are tons of powerups and enemies flying all over.

Pocky And Rocky Throwing Cards Mini Cyclops

04 - Dang skeletons tossing bones at us after they die!

05 - Some old man just floated around and threw stuff at us, this game is really weird. But fun!

08 - Wow! We just beat the first boss! It was the ugly goblin from the beginning. Stupid guy was tossing nuts at us. Hylas and I wailed on him with our weapons (Pocky throws playing cards and Rocky throws leaves) and slowly took him down, but we both died once. This game is insane!

Pocky And Rocky Goblin Boss Barrage

09 - Cutscene now of the goblin talking. He starts telling us about what happened: the goblins were having a party when a hooded stranger approached. Poor guys, it was the Black Mantle!

10 - Next level up is the Enchanted Forest. What a unique name... The bad guys start battling us right away.

11 - It's not long before we encounter a fire breathing cyclops, hahaha, he goes down in a flurry of cards and leaves.

13 - Well, the game just keeps throwing bosses at us, next up was a hollow green stick! He seems to know who the mysterious Black Mantle is.

Pocky And Rocky Green Leaf Tube Boss

15 - Another Cyclops who goes down as I whoop him from behind. Hylas gives me a warning: don't fall in the water!

18 - That was good advice because we just had a three minute rafting sequence of fending off enemies. Surprisingly, neither Rocky nor Pocky took a swim.

19 - Oh man, an octopus boss! With dragon heads on his tentacles. Not more tentacles! I lost all my lives. Game Over for me...

Pocky And Rocky Octopus Dragon Boss

20 - Hylas won out though and there is now a cutscene of him talking with some turtle goblins. Dang it, Pocky is still alive in the cutscene!

21 - Our next stop is the cemetery... I'm out of lives so I guess I'll just watch Hylas play for a bit.

22 - Geez this level is intense, and I'm not even playing at the moment! Hylas using Rocky weaves his way through the graves only to fight an undead monster! Well, Hylas is also undead now. More like dead. Okay, I'll stop.

Pocky And Rocky Overworld Cemetery Mystery

23 - Game Over for both of us! But thankfully we get to continue and we both come back with full lives at the graveyard. Nice.

25 - We made it to the boss together this time, man, half of these guy's attack are unavoidable! I don't think we killed him, but he disappears and we're able to enter the crypt.

28 - Holy crap man, boss after boss. This time it was a genie who teleported around the room and threw fire at us while turning into clouds. Someone was on drugs.

Pocky And Rocky Genie Boss

30 - Wow, another tremendously hard sequence where we had to avoid skulls and bats and green globs and moving walls that tried to shove us into pits. We both lose all of our lives. Game Over again. And the cemetery again.

34 - We just beat the demon and the genie again, but I'm on my last life. This is going to be so hard.

35 - Well I lost that life in record time. Having two players fight each other by scrolling the screen when there are so many pits is really difficult. Hopefully Hylas can do this on his own...

Pocky And Rocky Game Over

36 - Nope. Game Over again.

42 - This time was almost worst than last. I was too quick on the start button and started the cemetery level without Hylas, so he had to steal one of my lives to join and play. We actually made it pretty far on a life shortage, but the game's supreme difficulty won out in the end, of course.

45 - We're doing really well this time. We both have two lives remaining after beating the genie.

48 - Finally! We defeat the demon again at the end, this time using bombs (which I didn't know how to use... L and R buttons!), and have finally beaten the cemetery level!

Pocky And Rocky Black Mantle Gorgonzola Fortress Cutscene

49 - Suddenly the Gorgonzola flying fortress has appeared in the sky! Black Mantle must be in there! The next level is called Battle in the Sky. I have no idea how both Pocky and Rocky are familiar with this flying fortress, but they are and they're note scared.

51 - Well, I lose my one life very quickly. First I fell off, then got trampled by a falling skull. Not fun! There is also a cloud monster that seems unstoppable. Basically this whole game is unstopabble.

52 - Hylas loses his last life when he jumps off the cliff with an animal he's riding!

Pocky And Rocky Bullet Hell

54 - We're back, but not for long. Pocky loses her last life and now Rocky is once again on his own. The game is forcing him through a scroll maze. Basically a maze that would be super easy to walk through if it weren't for the automatically scrolling screen. Well, there's also tons of pirates shooting at him and some doors are blowing fire in all directions.

56 - Somehow he's still alive and kicking! Go Rocky!

57 - Oh oh, the level boss. It's some bird man monster who throws deadly feathers at Rocky. I guess we'll give this one more go now that the raccoon man is dead.

60 - And that last go was just enough! We use all our bombs on the bird monster to whoop down on him! Just a few more levels remain but we are out of time on the first hour of Rocky & Pocky!

Now for some scores out of 10.

Pocky And Rocky Black Mantle Lightning

First Hour Scores

Minutes to Action: 3

Gameplay: 7
I really had no idea this game was so hard, and we were playing two player on EASY. Hylas and I can't even imagine playing on a harder level let alone beating the game on easy (we tried, got bored from dieing so much). A hard game doesn't mean too much unless the game is unfair, which Pocky & Rocky generally is. There are some moments with respawning enemies and raccoon-seeking projectiles that made us kind of angry, but that's the challenge of the game. It has a cute presentation and then never lets up after the first minute. There are a few moments of bullet hell near the end of the first hour that made the game very tough, and even though you have a few hearts of life, there's really no moment of invincibility that you sometimes see in other shoot 'em ups. Overall gameplay though is solid and fun.

Fun Factor: 7
Hard games can be a lot of fun, and Pocky & Rocky's first hour is pretty enjoyable. I remember the first time I played Ikaruga and was just blown out of the water within minutes, Pocky & Rocky thankfully has a much better difficult curve but compared to most games it is still harsh. That's okay though, because if you enjoy shoot 'em ups this is a great, light-hearted approach to the genre that's obsessed with spaceships and crappy stories. This specific sub-genre of a Commando-like game is a rather rare breed these days, so it can be pretty fun to take a step back in time and check out what developers were doing 15 years ago.

Oh yeah, best part about this game is when you slide into your teammate which sends them careening around the screen on their bottom bouncing into everything for like five seconds. It's hilarious!

Graphics and Sound: 8
Colorful, well detailed, and a heck of a lot of stuff going on makes for a great looking 16-bit scrolling shooter. Pocky & Rocky came out years before Harvest Moon and honestly this game looks better! The color palette was chosen so well that the sprites pop out of the screen. The game isn't beautiful, but it's not trying to inspire games like Ikaruga, it is doing it's own thing and it does it great. Honestly, I didn't notice the music much, the game was just so intense. The sound effects were light and appropriate, no voices, but no big deal.

Story: 6
For being a SNES shoot 'em up, Pocky & Rocky's story is not half bad! We get some fun cutscenes between levels that aren't too long and the graphics are cute enough to keep it appealing. The story is basic, kind of reminds me of something like Kirby where you have to save all your furry friends. The Black Mantle was a nice, dark addition to an otherwise cheerful game, just wish I could have met him face to face in the first hour instead of hearing all his minions blab on and on about who and where he is.

Overall: 7
Pocky & Rocky is a decent scrolling shoot 'em up that takes a light-hearted approach to the genre. Sitting down with a friend and tackling this game head on for an afternoon would be great fun, and I don't think this game is much longer than an hour for the skilled shmupper. This game basically requires two players though not because of its difficulty, but because it makes it a lot more fun to count on your fellow raccoon/young lady when taking on the forces of the Dark Mantle. I recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of the genre or just likes to go back and play old and quirky games.

Pocky And Rocky Japanese Cover
The Japanese cover, because the American cover is a Grade A Disaster.