Ever since I played Wild Guns Reloaded on PS4 a few years ago thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I was interested to see what the team behind that release would do next. We ended up getting the excellent The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors for PS4 and Switch which I loved. The great thing about both of these releases is that they introduced newcomers to classics with these amazing versions. Pocky and Rocky Reshrined is a remake that ends up going into reimagining territory for a bit. For my Pocky and Rocky Reshrined Switch review, I’m going to cover how it feels to play for a newcomer to the series, and how the Switch port is for this release.
Before getting into any of the gameplay and how it feels, Pocky and Rocky Reshrined’s pixel art is absolutely gorgeous. This release has some of the best pixel art I’ve seen, and it looks amazing on the Nintendo Switch OLED display in handheld mode. Pocky and Rocky Reshrined aims to be the modern version of the SNES original, but it does so much more. I mentioned not knowing about some of these games until new releases, and that holds true for Pocky and Rocky Reshrined as well.
When it was revealed for Japan, I started looking up footage of the original game, and it seemed like something I would enjoy. The wait for the Western release has been long, but Pocky and Rocky Reshrined has finally released today on Nintendo Switch and PS4, bringing an essential for run and gun shooter fans. Comparing footage of the original game with Pocky and Rocky Reshrined shows how much has been changed or added to this experience above the visuals. I love the new designs, but the real star is how excellent movement and the core gameplay feels in Pocky and Rocky Reshrined.
You start out with a ranged attack and a melee one, but even the first stage was hard for me in my first two runs. There’s a point when balancing melee to reflect enemy bullets and your own ranged attack will click and that’s when Pocky and Rocky Reshrined’s gameplay starts to shine. Everything goes from overwhelming to an elegant explosion of precise movement, positioning, attacks, and more as you go through the levels and unlock other skills. Expect to play this multiple times as you work towards unlocking more and also trying out the characters barring Pocky and Rocky and free mode.
The gauge on the bottom left of the screen has your remaining life, remaining lives, and number of specials you have left. You also see the score and gold coins you’ve acquired. As you go through the stages, you pick up power balls that increase your own power and these can also change your attack depending on the color. The levels are full of baskets that have items and gorgeously drawn dango or tea that heal you. The boss battles are quite the spectacles as well.
My biggest problems with this release have to do with how the two player mode is gated behind completing the game once or collecting 10,000 coins, and with how the easy mode is also locked behind collecting 3,000 coins. The former is annoying for those who want to just play this with someone locally from the start while the latter is likely going to be a turnoff for those who aren’t familiar with the genre. Pocky and Rocky Reshrined is challenging, but I find the decision to lock these modes very disappointing.
On the technical side, I was surprised at how well Pocky and Rocky Reshrined runs on Switch. I had a few noticeable slowdowns, but nothing game breaking. I’ve not tested the PS4 version or watched footage of it, but I assume that doesn’t have these slowdowns if that matters to you. Having this on a portable has been great, and I’m definitely going to buy it on Steam if it ever gets a release there to play on Steam Deck. This release continued to impress me the more I played since getting review code, and I’m looking forward to my physical release arriving to add it to my collection.
Pocky and Rocky Reshrined on Nintendo Switch is absolutely brilliant run and gun shooter that has almost no gameplay issues with its gorgeous visuals and excellent gameplay. My biggest annoyance with it in its current state, is that the two player mode is locked behind completing the game or collecting 10,000 coins. The easy mode is also locked behind collecting 3,000 coins. This will be a problem for those looking to play this in co-op from the get go, or those who aren’t great at games like this. Barring those issues, Pocky and Rocky Reshrined delivered in spades and is one of my favorite games of the year on Nintendo Switch.