Developed By: NatsumeAtari, Tengo Project Published By: Natsume, Strictly Limited Games Categories: Retro, Shooter, Adventure Release Date: 06.24.22
If you’ve played anything by NatsumeAtari, you should very well be excited for Pocky & Rocky Reshrined. The third in a series of remakes by their dev team Tengo Project, excellent remakes at that. I’m willing to say this keeps true to the legacy.
Lets get started with what Pocky & Rocky is though. Known in Japan as Kiki Kaikai, you play as a young Shinto Shrine Maiden named Pocky (Sayo Chan), with her Tanuki pal named Rocky, who’s a friendly Yokai. The other Yokai aren’t so friendly though, and they need to find out why and stop it! Reshrined is a remake of the first SNES title, a sequel to an arcade game. Reshrined is also the first game (if you don’t count Heavenly Guardian) in the series in over twenty years. Lets finally dig in.
The Pocky & Rocky series is one of top down shooters. These are not twin stick shooters, so don’t play them as one. You gonna be more careful, you move where you aim. You’re going to die, fast if you don’t use your full repertoire of moves however. The Deflect move is vital, not only will it knock back any small enemies or projectiles, it can do close quarters damage to enemies, or even take out fires. You also have a dodge roll, but there’s a bit of build up and precision needed for it. You’ll need to use it wisely or you’ll just dive off a ledge onto water or into harm’s way. Lastly, you can use screen clearing magic bombs! Moves can all be mapped however you want too. I’d recommend putting the dodge on a shoulder button.
Shoot absolutely everything that moves. Getting full groups occasionally can grant you powerups, like making your o-fuda scrolls go into a spread shot, or making them fiery! Enemies drop coins too, which can be used on some hidden and not so hidden sellers around the stages. Those fully maxed out shots can really be devastating.
Stages can be long, they can also be challenging, but never give up. There’s no shame in continues unless points really matter that much to you. Learn the patterns of enemies, get used to the secondary moves, find the secrets. Initially I was really just taking the hits, and did not last through the first level, but as soon as I got comfortable with how the game itself wanted me to play, it was perfect.
I’ve always been fancy to arcade-esque games that story modes. Consider this the run that gets you used to the game, it will be your first run and unlock everything after all. I am even more fancy to the fact you can stop playing and continue whenver. By stage, by stage segment, there’s no limit. This counts for those continues too. While in story you’ll mostly control Pocky, sometimes you’ll play as Rocky. Sometimes you’ll play as a few other characters that you might have seen on the cover.
Everyone has unique animations, their attacks show differently, but otherwise they seem the same. That is outside of their attack augmentations. Tap attack a lot instead of holding it or hold down your reflect. For Pocky for instance, you get a mirror that can split off your shots for the former, and a nice holy ring to protect from damage and pesky ghosts with the latter. That said, you won’t be able to chose your character freely until you beat story mode. You also, in a frankly baffling decision, not be able to play co-op until you beat story mode. It doesn’t take long, but I can’t wrap my head around why.
If you’ve played a NatsumeAtario/Tengo Project game you know exactly what to expect from Reshrined as a remake. It is gorgeous. Who says spritework is a dead artform? The sprites, the animation, are just simply perfect. It is so refreshing to see sprites this good in their games. The cutscenes you’ll see between stages have wonderful art as well. Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is deadstop a beautiful game. Absolutely night and day between this and the SNES title.
The music cuts no corners either. The tunes all fit that adventure feel. When things can get triumphant like having a fully power power up, it reflects that. When fighting a boss, it feels grand. I will say though, if you played through say…a Mystical Ninja game and got really sick of that feudal Japan theming for music, this will drive you bonkers.
If you’re a fan of retro games, excellent spritework, or the long overdue for a sequel Pocky & Rocky series, you absolutely owe it to yourself to play this. It’s kind of a hard sell without letting someone play the game, but it’s a fun romp, especially once you unlock co-op. Please let us get more remakes from this team. As an aside, the western release is censored slightly with a design showing cleavage. If that bothers you, just import a Japanese copy.
Buy Now: $29.99 – $79.99 Collectors – Add $30 for the Rocky Plush
*Game Download Code supplied for the purpose of review