Pocky & Rocky Reshrined Review thumbnail

Pocky & Rocky Reshrined Review

KiKi KaiKai returns

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PS4 on ⛩️

Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is also available for Nintendo Switch

Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB

Before Touhou existed, gamers got to be a shrine maiden in KiKi KaiKai and it's back and better than ever with Pocky & Rocky Reshrined.

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Pocky & Rocky Reshrined screenshot 1
Pocky rides a little creature into a rock like a pro

Reviving a classic

Although many western gamers remember Pocky & Rocky best as a Super NES game, I actually played the arcade version most which predates it by 6 years. When I originally played it, I fell in love with the simple and unconventional gameplay where you play as a shrine maiden while waving a purification rod and throwing ofuda cards from 8 directions at enemies such as ghosts and an assortment of clever bosses. Since then, I tried to get my hands on more of the series and I even still have that weird Heavenly Guardian game which you can get on Switch as Snow Battle Princess Sayuki. Thankfully, not only does Pocky & Rocky Reshrined capture the spirit of these classics, it does an excellent job of modernizing the gameplay and overall experience to create the best entry in the series so far. v1d30chumz 35-172-223-251

Presentation

The first thing that impressed me about Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is its beautiful animations. Each character and enemy really comes to life as you watch them fight and even fail. Seeing Rocky get squished by a hulking foe always made me crack a smile even though I was taking damage at the time. It's all very detailed, smooth, and colourful which makes its lighthearted world really pop. Meanwhile, the audio is full of toe-tapping tunes and adorable sound effects that complement the visuals perfectly. We're off to a good start! 😊

Pocky & Rocky Reshrined screenshot 2
Time for Ame-no-Uzume to unleash her rain of steel

Gameplay

The gameplay of Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is more fully-featured than the original as you have 4 actions to perform. First, your melee attack can deflect projectiles and take out certain enemies up-close. Of course, you also have a projectile attack that launches in the direction you're facing. In addition to these, you can also slide to quickly dodge out of harm's way and unleash a special attack whenever you have one in stock. To make things even more varied, you can play as 5 different characters. On top of the titular Pocky and Rocky, you also get to play as Ame-no-Uzume, Ikazuchi, and a samurai named Hotaru Gozen who each has their own unique move set.

Campaign

Pocky & Rocky Reshrined's campaign consists of 8 stages that will take you to some truly memorable locales. Although each stage lends itself well to the tight and enjoyable gameplay, there are moments that will leave you frustrated, especially if you happen to bite the dust due to some surprise respawning enemy or unseen trap. On the other hand, collecting power-ups as you alternate between projectile types makes for a satisfying formula. This is especially true when you face one of the many challenging bosses as a little extra firepower may be just what you need to claim victory. I love how many of the bosses transform and even the ones that don't are great fun to take on. In the end, the campaign here sure beats the super-short and tedious adventure in Pocky & Rocky with Becky. 😅

Extras

With all of that in mind, there isn't really much content in Pocky & Rocky Reshrined. After completing the 8 stage campaign which may take about an hour if you're somewhat skilled, there isn't much to do. The primary unlockable is free mode which lets you play co-op with a chum as well as choose your character. Besides that, you could try to climb the online leaderboards but that's about it. 😐

Pocky & Rocky Reshrined screenshot 3
Please don't tear Ikazuchi apart...

Pocky & Rocky Reshrined is definitely the best entry in the long-running albeit sporadic KiKi KaiKai series. It may have its shortcomings but the modernized gameplay and lovely presentation make it a must-have if you enjoy classic games that are off the beaten path.

  • + Tight gameplay that's very well-adapted from the original arcade formula
  • + Lovely animation and cute audio
  • + Varied campaign with great boss fights
  • - Features some rather frustrating moments
  • - Could use additional modes and content
7.7 out of 10
Gameplay video for Pocky & Rocky Reshrined thumbnail
Watch A.J. play Pocky & Rocky Reshrined
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