Saturday 14 May 2016

Rockin' Kats (NES review)

Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
Released: 1991

Rockin' Kats is an action-platformer that was released in Japan as N.Y. Nyankies.

Your mission as Willy is to rescue your main squeeze Jill from the local crime boss Mugsy. Though armed with a Punch Gun, collecting money bags allows you to purchase upgrades like Bombs and Twin Balls. What's unique is that Willy can use his fists to swing around ledges and launch over perilous gaps. There's also advanced moves such as using your fists to bounce across spikes without taking damage. Part of what makes the game so enjoyable is its variety in both the gameplay and locations; one minute you'll be taking part in some typical side-scrolling action, then clinging onto ledges and launching yourself up in a vertically scrolling area. There's also sections where you ride vehicles, such as a mine cart, that remind me of Donkey Kong Country (1994, SNES). The gameplay is tough (especially as you get used to timing your swings) but rarely frustrating which is the sign of a well developed title. Things get easier and more entertaining once you have enough money to buy the awesome Twin Balls though! I love that you can select stages in any order as it allows you to see most of the game even if you're not particularly skilled. There's a huge range of enemies to keep things interesting and learning their attack patterns is lots of fun. Not only are there some great boss battles, the mini-bosses provide unique challenges without repeating themselves. There's also three Bonus Games: Roulette (spin a wheel to earn prizes), Basketball (launch Willy into moving baskets) and Pipe Toss (catch and throw balls through moving pipes). They're okay, but nothing more than a quick distraction.
Rockin' Kats is an underrated game in the NES library as it does so many things well and provides the perfect level of challenge. Its sheer variety, great gameplay and highly memorable boss battles make it a top-notch action-platformer that you should definitely check out.
Random trivia: Beating all five stages will unlock a super-hard bonus stage where the only available weapon is your fists!

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