Written: 2.18.07 Acquired: 3.2.06 Status: Cart only Price: $5.67
There were many games back in the day that I saw for rent which I wanted to play so badly. But of course we could only rent one game and my older brother always won out. This was one of those copious games. Indeed, it's one of countless platformers on Nintendo's 16-bit wonder. It flew under the radar then, and to this day the story is no different. The question is: does it deserve to stay unnoticed, or no?
"GIT OFF THE DAMN ROAD YA MUTHA --!"
I remember seeing it on the rental shelves probably a hundred times, practically begging "RENT ME!" Alas, as readers of Power Moves know, my brother usually had a specific game for me to target. So never having got around to rent it, I was always curious about this IREM platformer. My gut said it was most likely a competent enjoyable sucker, but it wasn't until 2006, some odd thirteen years later, that I finally discovered whether my gut feeling was right on, or way off
I'm happy to say, my gut failed me not...
The 1st level is very simple and eases you in. Right away you notice that the graphics aren't spectacular, but pretty solid and atypical of the time. That baddie looks a lot like Sparkster from Rocket Knight Adventures, eh?
Rocky starts off bald, but by grabbing different icons, he grows a new do, each one with their own strengths and weaknesses. The hit system is identical to Ghouls 'N Ghosts. In addition to maiming baddies with your hair, there's always the good ole fashion bop on the head
The first one gives Rocky a simple short attack
You can hang on ledges with the Spike, and flip to reach higher ground
It's also got this fancy little technique
STRIKE! Unoriginal, but loads of fun nevertheless
Rocky loves this
These send Rocky packin'
Well, it's a balanced diet...
The rodent can pick up great speed, which is critical in places such
The plot thickens...
IREM CEO: Hey! Why the dirt on our good name, sir? What wrongs have we EVER done? I dare you to show me JUST ONE! Bet you can't!
[You want this, or shall I? -Ed.]
IREM CEO: *sweating* Ah ha ha ha.... Smithers, quickly, TO THE BASEMENT!
[At last, sir! -Smithers]
See the trouble you've caused now?
Back to Rocky Rodent, then...
Level 2 is a speed run on the highway. In the far distance lurks the boss whom you must catch before the sun sets
Sounds easy enough, right?
Well, at least until you factor in the many hazards looking to stop you all in the name of pest control
A pair of tantalizing treats await the crafty and skilled player
You're up against it!
BETTER FLOOR IT!
Oooh, tricky, this is. Show that Chuck E. Cheeses reject what's what and who's who!
Maybe even trickier is this flame-flicking truck! Patience is key, but time's running out!
Watch yo back Rocky! Very peculiar, wouldn't you say?
Ah, we catch the boss swine in time. He's pretty easy with the Spike-do... but don't get too cocky now...
... For this could happen
Before we get to level 3, more bizarre cutscenes and dialogue take place. Man, someone over at Nintendo really fell asleep at the controls...
Remember kids, NEVER accept rides from strangers
[Oh yeah? Well get a ticket and stand in line -Ed.]
From jumping in the city to running on the highway to rummaging in the apartment complex we go. No, it's not original, but it beats having another ice or fire world, eh?
The MOHAWK is sick, observe its wonderful powers
Acts like a boomerang, and has superb range
And like the Spike, it allows you the luxury to hang and leap
[I know... *evil laughter* -Ed.]
Never fear, for such acts of very immature mishaps does no harm to Rocky. However, it DOES make for some neat sight gags
Another cool trait of the mohawk:
It comes back to you too. Ace, 'init?
While the Mohawk serves many useful purposes and is quite fun to fling around, always bear it in mind that whenever you heave your mohawk (damn, did I really just say that), you leave yourself vulnerable to being just one hit away from an untimely demise
These "blockers" do exactly that. The only way to open these doors is to find an alternate route and give these ole chums the boot
These guys give Rocky a healthy boost
Signposts act as restart points
Falling chandeliers are one to watch out for
Eventually you drop down this long tube
The blocks give way... sending you to...
Don't linger around!
It's a match made in Heaven
Ahh, love at first drool it just warms the heart
This is really cool, but what's a seesaw doing in the middle of an apartment builiding? Then again, with spirits lurking about, why ask why?
It sends the ole Rockster flying like a, er, flying thing
An awe-inspiring moment this is
Next you'll come across one of the strangest 1-UP icons ever. In fact, it's all quite disturbing. Take a glander and judge for yourself...
Sick and very, very cool all at the same time. Lovely
Back inside, things are heating up... and boy, I'm not kidding. Check out the shower scene below... good grief!
FURTHER PROOF OF NINTENDO FALLING ASLEEP AT THE CONTROLS
You see? Unbelievable
When you pass a stage, you get this rundown
The next level (also in the "Ghost Apartment") requires cunning skillful gamesmanship of the highest caliber
It's easy to mis-time the jumps here. Talk about having the carpet pulled out from under you (quite literally)
The boss of this level is quite difficult...
... And he does not take kindly to intruders!
He's a tough cookie! Good luck, Rocky!
This game has one of the better Game Over screens I've seen in a while... good stuff
FEEL THE CHEAT!
Rocky Rodent is much more difficult than your regular platformer. In fact, it was rated #6 in EGM's Top 10 Most Difficult Games in a piece they ran back in the mid-90's. So you'll need all the help you can get. Here's a handy infinite continues code for your troubles...
As Rocky begins running across the screen, press Y, A, R, A, B, A
You have to be fast [to last! Sorry -Ed.] because Rocky is a speed demon, the little devil
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Rocky Rodent fared well with the US critics. They agreed that it was a very solid, surprising semi-hit, and they couldn't wait to play a 16-meg sequel in 1994. Of course, this is Rocky's one and only showing... [*sniff* -Ed.]
Super Play, on the other hand, was not impressed
EGM:7, 7, 8, 8
GameFan:79, 82, 85, 86
Super Play: 50%
Rocky Rodent simply got lost in the crowd of the many me-too platformers that overflowed the Super Nintendo. It is very very playable, and the different hair-do's add some level of strategy and depth to the game. Soundwise, it's pretty solid indeed. Rocky controls well and looks good to boot
As I mentioned in Ganbare Daiku no Gensan, also by IREM, Rocky Rodent reminds me a bit of that. There are several other hair-do's in addition to the spike and mohawk. They include a ponytail which acts as a swinging device and an egg that sends forth a savage bird to peck the enemies (!), just to name two. Even though it's by and large fairly standard platforming 101 stuff, the dressing is ever-so-slightly different enough to make the game feel like a bit of a unique effort by the fine folks at IREM
Speaking of unique, it should also be noted that the game, interestingly enough, has a bit of a 1940's look to it (check out those vehicles and buildings!) In addition, it admirably refrains from regurgitating the same ole fire and icy worlds, and somehow manages to come off smelling like a bit of a breath of fresh air, despite things being rather true-and-tried
I guess, though, that that's the sign of a good game, no?
It's by no means an all-time classic, but it's good enough to warrant a play through. If you're in the mood for a simple and fun yet challenging platformer, this should suffice. Rocky Rodent has much more to offer than the average middle-of-the-road me-too hop 'n bop. As such, it makes for a worthy addition to any Super Nintendo library