After many years of being dormant, the Pocky & Rocky series has been given a revival by members of the original development team. Pocky & Rocky Reshrined takes heavy inspiration from the original SNES release but adds modern upgrades through the use of current development tools and has never looked better.
Simply put, Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is a good game but it is most definitely a hard one. Ideally played with a dedicated local co-op partner, this is one of those games that you’ll need to replay several times, inching forward with each attempt. If you watch my stream embedded in this article, I had to re-try many times (about 20 minutes) just to make it to Stage 1-2 where I got destroyed by the first boss.
The majority of the difficulty comes from the restrictive control scheme. Like the SNES originals, movement and shooting is mapped to a single stick which means the player cannot strafe or even lock in place and shoot in any direction. Better yet, the gameplay feels like it was designed as a twin-stick shooter but decided to only use one stick. Because of this, the player needs to become familiar with the melee reflect attack and the dodge button, something that I didn’t fully grasp or understand during my initial stream embedded here.
Enemies drop coins and when enough are collected, new options become available including an easy mode. This is rather interesting as the game forces you to play the normal mode several times before earning enough to unlock the easy setting. By then, you’ll have just enough skill, knowledge, and memorization to make you a better player so you might not want to even succumb to the easy mode. It is a thoughtful design approach, one that projects unique confidence.
Reshrined also does a great job of honoring its past through updated 16-bit sprite work. It basically looks like a subtle cross between the SNES originals and Square’s recent kick on their HD-2D visual style. The way fallen leaves move on the floor and the animation of monsters simply looks really good. It scratches that nostalgic itch while taking advantage of modern Unity tools.
It is awesome that Taito is harkening back into their catalog but can’t help but feel a bit bummed that some additional features were not included. Although there is an online rating system, online co-op would have been highly welcomed. I might never have the chance to play two player local co-op, and if I did, chances are that second player wouldn’t be much help without having the time to practice from the brutal difficulty. Joining forces with another skilled player through online play could have provided extra replay and entertainment value, but alas. A feature like this would have only extended development time and cost, so it is understandable but still disappointing since the gameplay was best designed around co-op.
Do not be fooled by the cute exterior; this is a difficult game. In fact, the high difficulty might be enough to push easily rage quittable players away. I fear I might have fallen into this category were it not for my nostalgia of the original titles. However, if you have the tenacity to stick with it and learn ins and outs of the action-heavy combat, there is a lot to enjoy. There is also a raccoon that chucks leaves, a creature that really hasn’t been utilized since Super Mario Bros. 3.
Also Play: The Ninja Saviors
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Don’t Forget About: the DS Taito Paddle Controller accessory and its 3 compatible games
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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