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64bitgamer » Pocky and Rocky Reshrined (PS4) Overview

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Pocky and Rocky was a enjoyable little shoot ‘em up developed for the Tremendous Nintendo nearly thirty years in the past by Harvest Moon writer Natsume. It wasn’t a barn burner by any means, one other shmup in an period flush with shmups, but it surely was appreciated by many on the time for its novel, enjoyable presentation. You play as both a shrine maiden named Pocky, or a tanuki named Rocky, and also you go round throwing spell playing cards and leaves in any respect kinds of loopy yokai throughout six ranges. It’s a easy game, primarily and clearly on account of its arcade origins (beneath the identify KiKi KaiKai) however there’s nothing unsuitable with that, particularly approach again within the period of “you simply purchased this licensed game of a TV present/film for full worth and it’s like two hours lengthy and it’s going to be essentially the most depressing two hours of your life.” 

When Pocky and Rocky Reshrined was introduced, it was fairly unclear what precisely it was going to be. Was it a remake of the unique game? Was it a wholly new one? The reply lies someplace within the center, with Reshrined taking the degrees and ideas behind the unique launch, and updating them with all kinds of recent bells and whistles to make one thing that’s akin to idealized nostalgia. It’s not the Pocky and Rocky you keep in mind, but it surely’s precisely the way you need to think about Pocky and Rocky having been.

Reshrined mixes issues up instantly by being separated into two completely different principal modes: Story, and Free. Story Mode is the eight ranges of the game introduced in a deliberate, curated approach, with cutscenes and a special character relying on the extent. Whereas the unique game had simply Pocky and Rocky, Reshrined has a complete of 5 playable characters, every with a very completely different playstyle that provides the game the sense of modularity inherent to most different shoot ‘em ups. Free Mode permits you to play via these eight ranges once more, however with out the cutscenes, as any character you want, and probably in native co-op. The unique game solely had a narrative mode, which meant you needed to watch (learn; skip) the cutscenes everytime you completed a degree, so the compromise of two completely different modes to encourage replayability with out slowing the participant down is a pleasant one, particularly for the kind of sickos who’re truly going for 1CCs or speedruns. 

The story mode is cute, with classically styled cutscenes, and a shocking number of locales. Whereas the unique Pocky and Rocky was pretty simple (i.e you go from the shrine, to the woods, to the graveyard) Reshrined cranks every of those traditional ranges up a notch. What was as soon as a fairly primary foray on a floating boat is now a busy struggle throughout flaming spaceships, and a variety of the traditional bosses have been given both extra mechanics or an additional section to their fights for an additional layer of complexity. All the pieces about Reshrined’s presentation feels precisely like the unique being improved upon and reconsidered in accordance with fashionable expectations and potentialities, with out sacrificing the simplicity and appeal it’s recognized for. 

If there’s one facet of Reshrined that does really feel like a bit a lot it’s the writing. It’s not frustratingly obtuse, or complicated in a approach the place you need to know the wealthy lore of GBA spin-off Pocky and Rocky with Becky or something; it’s simply actually funnily convoluted. Whereas the unique was only a story about Pocky and Rocky releasing their goblin mates from the psychological manipulation of the evil sorcerer Darkish Mantle, Reshrined provides in all kinds of latest characters and world-hopping that at instances can really feel like a fever dream. Black Mantle goes again in time to cease Pocky and Rocky from beating him within the unique game by killing Pocky, who then goes to the spirit world and steadily fights her approach again to the long run the place Darkish Mantle has simply form of lit all the things on hearth. Then it’s revealed that Darkish Mantle is definitely a woman named Anna who was some form of priestess who received possessed by a demon named Gastaroth who is definitely Darkish Mantle? So then you definately group up with another gods to cope with that whereas Rocky simply form of runs round doing nothing. 

There isn’t something unsuitable with this insane presentation, if something I’d say it provides a variety of enjoyable to what may have simply been a reasonably primary retread of a cutesy nineties game. It particularly helps that the pixelated artstyle of the game is extremely detailed and cute. When the unique Pocky and Rocky got here out, it was praised for its extremely detailed 16-bit artwork, in an period the place 16-bit was the brand new hotness, and Reshrined does good by that legacy. Previous designs have been made extra complicated with out sacrificing the core ideas underpinning them, and utilization of extra complicated results like melting one display into one other as a demon bursts into the world showcases a dedication and appreciation for the aesthetic that every one artwork ought to try for.

The core gameplay is fairly 1:1 to its predecessor, excluding a pair new talents. Typically talking, this can be a scrolling shooter, so that you form of, you already know, scroll and shoot. Pocky shoots her spell tags out, Rocky shoots his leaves, you will get upgrades that change these slightly however for essentially the most half you’re gonna simply study enemy patterns and omni-directionally shoot at no matter comes your approach. Whereas it’s enjoyable to idiot round with Pocky’s new mirror strikes, and Rocky’s ridiculous mikoshi float carried by a bunch of tiny tanuki, the three new playable characters are the place Reshrined actually will get added depth.

Goddess Ame-no-Uzume floats round with two magatama that form of work like choices; with one on every of her sides with completely different trajectories for extra widespread injury, whereas the little weasel yokai Ikazuchi has some enjoyable weapons like an auto-targeting beam, and the flexibility to summon tiny little variations of herself that hop alongside and shoot on their very own. The final character, Hotaru-Gozen, is simply playable by beating the story mode twice however she’s simply essentially the most enjoyable; with short-range but extensive spear assaults, and the kind of strikes you’d anticipate out of a personality motion game somewhat than a shooter.

The number of characters provides a variety of replayability to the game; one thing that’s inherent to shoot ‘em ups, but in addition one thing that was missing from the outdated SNES game. You possibly can play Pocky and Rocky again and again, and it saved its luster (particularly via co-op), however at its core it was being carried by an individualist need to consistently enhance your rating and talent. Whereas that thrust stays, the flexibility to replay in all kinds of various methods with completely different weapon concepts and targets helps broaden what you’ll get out of the game, evolving it previous what could possibly be a easy one-and-done expertise. 

Relating to complaints…it’s form of arduous to think about a lot unsuitable with Reshrined. It’s slightly irritating that you need to unlock co-op by beating story mode, however realistically the story mode is an hour lengthy, and it’s form of good to have a game be like “Okay please I’m begging you discover ways to play this game slightly earlier than you drag one other particular person into all this.” Extra irritating, I’d say, is the position of “Very Simple” mode behind simply taking part in a certain quantity of Regular issue. I get the will to attempt to get folks to punch above their weight class a bit, and the retroness of this design philosophy, but it surely’s the form of arbitrary limitation that’s finally fairly pointless. 

It’s additionally slightly underwhelming to see, particularly within the age of, you already know, a worldwide pandemic that’s maybe stopping many individuals from bodily hanging out with one another frequently, that the game solely has native co-op. This appears like such an odd omission, particularly when the unique was extremely standard amongst a few of my childhood mates as an SNES emulator netplay game. I understand that this isn’t a game with an extravagant funds behind it, however on the similar time you’d actually assume that a minimum of some type of on-line play would’ve been in consideration, particularly with current Nintendo Change On-line video games doing precisely that. It additionally would’ve been good to see some extra built-in challenges that a variety of the arcade and retro collections of current instances have put in, however I can even see the advantage of holding issues easy and candy.

All-in-all, Pocky and Rocky Reshrined is a quaint enjoyable little time that isn’t an outrageous game changer, however as a substitute a pleasant little distraction and reminder of an easier time in video games. Although it was once commonplace, today it actually is difficult to ascertain a world the place video games like this could possibly be talked about on the similar size as one thing like a Mario, or a Name of Obligation. It’s attention-grabbing, every now and then, to judge simply how the panorama of video games has modified, in addition to simply how little must be modified in the long run to nonetheless have a enjoyable time.

So I didn’t speak about one factor, which is that this game actually made me understand simply how a lot the PlayStation 4 D-pad sucks. Like we speak so much in regards to the degradation of controller high quality over time, but it surely can’t be understated simply how a lot tougher it was to goal on this game with the PS4 D-pad, in comparison with taking part in the unique through emulation and an Xbox Collection X controller on the PC. I battle and waver on the prospect of utilizing the wretched Change Pleasure-Con D-pad to play this game.

 

Pocky and Rocky Reshrined is on the market now on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Change.

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