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Pocky & Rocky, known in Japan as KiKi KaiKai: Nazo no Kuro Manto (奇々怪界～謎の黒マント lit. "Mysterious Ghost World: The Riddle of the Black Mantle" ), is a scrolling shooter video game with action elements licensed by Taito to Natsume, who developed and published the game for release in Japan in 1992 and the rest of the world in 1993. It is the sequel to the 1986 arcade game KiKi KaiKai (unofficially released in North America as Knight Boy) and follows the continued adventures of a young Shinto shrine maiden named Pocky (known in Japan as Sayo-chan (小夜ちゃん)) and her new companion, Rocky the Tanuki, or raccoon (known in Japan as Manuke (魔奴化)).
Unlike its predecessor, Pocky & Rocky was not developed by Taito, but was instead licensed to Natsume, for the series' console debut. The project was overseen by Yoshihino Hattori, who wrote the game's story which he based heavily on Japanese mythology and folklore. The game contains elements of standard arcade shooters, with a top-down scrolling display. It was also given action game features, such as the ability to move or attack in eight directions. Rocky, who was designed by Tomoyuki Ishiyama, was given the role of Pocky's sidekick, and served as the default second-player character who could also be freely chosen in a one-player game.
Sequences featuring 2D artwork were added at set points throughout the game to help move the story forward, which usually occurred when a boss character was defeated at the end of a level. These scenes, though present in the Japanese and North American versions of the game, were omitted for the PAL region releases.
Set in Feudal Japan, Pocky & Rocky has the player assume the role of a young girl who, while tending to a shrine one night, is visited by Rocky, a tanuki and member of a group of yōkai known as the "Nopino Goblins", all of whom have recently been driven insane by an unknown force. Together, Pocky and Rocky must travel through several levels consisting of various ancient Japanese locales while battling a number of creatures from popular Japanese myth, including kappas, obake, and yūrei. Eventually, they must breach the stronghold of the mysterious Black Mantle, who has been using these monsters (collectively referred to as the "Gorgonzola Goblins") to fulfill his evil deeds. Whichever character the player chooses to play will make no difference in the outcome of the story.
Pocky & Rocky takes place from a top-down perspective with the characters moving either horizontally or vertically through a level while defeating approaching enemies and destroying obstacles that may block the player's path. Pocky can use her ofuda talismans (simply called "cards" in the English language version) to attack enemies from afar, or purification rod, which she swings at a wide arc, to hit ones close up. Likewise, Rocky can throw leaves across the screen or quickly turn his backside towards the enemy and swing his tail from side to side. By holding the short-ranged attack button down and then releasing it, Pocky does a spinning attack that can hit any enemy around her, while Rocky is able to transform into a statue, rendering him invulnerable to all attacks for a short time while leaving him immobile. Both characters can also slide across the ground, covering an area quickly. If a player bumps into the other while sliding, it will cause them to spin out of control across the screen, damaging any enemies they come in contact with, though the initial bump causes some damage to the receiving character. A limited-use special attack can be used to hit several or all the enemies present on the screen, and is only available once per life (they differ in actual range and power between the two characters). Though most enemies only require a few attacks to defeat, boss monsters present at the end of each level take much more, and may require an additional use of strategy.
Various power-ups can also be acquired that will increase the effectiveness of either Pocky or Rocky's attacks, such as making their projectiles larger or giving them the ability to throw multiple ones at once. Others include the ability to become invincible, or regain hit points, giving them more endurance. Each item obtained will add to the player's total score, and when a certain amount is reached, they are given an additional life, another chance to complete the current level.
Three levels of difficulty can be selected before a player begins the game: easy, normal or hard. Selecting a higher difficulty will make the enemy creatures more difficult to defeat and provide a higher challenge to the player, as well as increase the number of hits required to defeat a boss. Defeating the game on a harder mode will not yield any greater ending or reward, and it is merely for the player's own gameplay preference.
The background music for Pocky & Rocky was composed by Hiroyuki Iwatsuki, an in-house Natsume composer who utilized traditional Japanese music with an electronic beat. No commercial soundtrack was ever made available, nor has the music appeared on a compilation album since the game's initial release.
Pocky & Rocky became popular enough to spawn two official sequels and one spiritual successor, though none are well recognized. The first sequel is called Pocky & Rocky 2 (or Kiki KaiKai: Kayako), also on SNES, and the other is Pocky & Rocky with Becky (Kiki KaiKai Advance) on the GBA. The GBA game introduces a new character called Becky (or Miki-chan in Japanese) who is also a miko like Pocky, but is only beginning her duties. UFO Entertainment later released a spiritual successor to the series called Heavenly Guardian, developed by Starfish, for the PS2 and Wii systems.
- Pocky & Rocky at GameFAQS
- Hardcore Gaming 101: Pocky & Rocky series
- IGN: Pocky & Rocky
- Bub and Bob: KiKi KaiKai / Pocky & Rocky
- Pocky & Rocky at MobyGames