This page is about all Kiki KaiKai series, also known as POCKY AND ROCKY.
Due to notable differences between each game, be sure to specify which one you're addressing.
The would-be spiritual successor, Heavenly Guardian (aka Legend of Sayuki), can also be talked about here.
User 1's NotesEdit
Add anything you feel like adding here.
KiKi KaiKai or "Mysterious Ghost World" is about... Yeah, no. I'm not gonna sit here and tell you everything about the background of these games or what they're about, partly because I'm not 100% sure myself and because Wikipedia does a better job of it than I could: so check here and here then come back here. I will say this though, they're cute, funny, and a lot less fucking disturbing than games like Yokai Dochuki, which actually bothers me more than any horror game I've ever played for some dumb reason I'm not too sure of.
Back on track, having played the original KiKi KaiKai, it's pretty damn basic, but you can definitely see the origins of the series in full force: from the playful representations of Japanese mythology in the enemies and bosses, along with the methods of attack (the ofuda scroll talismans (aka MAGIC CARDS) and the ohari Gohei wand (aka MAGIC STICK), the latter of which sadly doesn't reflect projectiles yet). There's also upgrade and bomb-type items (the latter of which don't work on bosses in the first two games). Keys to open boss doors is pretty stupid since they're in plain sight and typically near the boss doors anyways (at the very most about halfways). One thing that irritates the fuck out of me (and is the primary reason why I don't like the first game) is the fact that when you get killed, you respawn backwards. This is somewhat justified in Gradius (I can't say I care for it much there either) where you can re-earn power ups, but in this sort of game, this shit does not fucking fly (sure you can re-earn power-ups here too, but like Gradius, it's not nearly enough, and sometimes there are none). Yeah, I know it was a staple of games back in the day to do this, but that doesn't mean it was necessarily a good one, especially since other Commando-esque games would respawn you on the spot. Especially when stages get pretty big, all on top of the fact that Sayo (Pocky) moves pretty slow (at least compared to enemies who hop around like crazy hyperactive bastards who just drank Sonic's blood) somewhat justifies my classification of this as a dick move, especially when you die in boss fights (Boss doors stay open once unlocked). Level design is pretty monotonous and after a while repeating the processes just gets tedious. I wouldn't call it a shitty game, and though it borders on being "bad", it isn't (quite). It's just unfairly cheap and pretty hard for such a cute and simple game. Even if you might like it, I don't recommend playing it and I wouldn't put it on the Wiki either. If you're really curious about it, go here and watch this. The TG16 port is pretty much the same. The MSX version is weaker and has choppy scrolling. So don't think they touched it up.
KiKi KaiKai: Dotou Hen or "Mysterious Ghost World: Surging Waves Edition" (or alternatively "The Story of the Angry Waves") is conceptually pretty much the same thing. The execution is different though. For starters, you have a life meter. You can replenish it with riceball items for a maximum of 6 hits before dying (which you only have one life, so lose all hits and you game over). That's already better than the arcade's backtrack deaths. Actually, there aren't even stages anymore. Instead, you go through a somewhat big ass map that's more complicated than it should be and go through dungeons to fight bosses. You can also have player 2 switch in as Miki (later known as Becky overseas), and she has her own separate inventory and shit. In theory, this is the most ambitious game in the series. However, in practice, it's pretty lame and full of more stupid bullshit than the original arcade release. For starters, the map isn't really that big, and just full of warp points everywhere. However, this makes it seem very confusing since these the transition is seemless and it's hard to tell if you've been somewhere before, since the map's design is fairly monotonous. If they were going for a going for a Zelda-style world (makes sense, given that it came out in 1986 and this in 1987), going straight-forward would have been better instead of making the entire world a fucking Lost Woods ordeal. There's a day-night system as well, but it doesn't do anything to affect the game other than change the colors. More importantly is a calendar system, since you start off at January 8th and must complete the game before December 31st or "the game ends" (presumably perma-game over or bad end). I don't know how fast time goes, since I haven't directly played the game, but I can see how it would be a problem with the confusing overworld. Probably the stupidest idea is the limited ammo on your talisman cards. At first you think "Well, lots of games have limited ammo, so if anything it gives you more challenge, right?" and then you realize IT ALSO WORKS AS MONEY IN SHOPS. "Well, okay, that's not TOO bad, since Zelda 1 did the same thing." is what you may also think, but NO. You're fucking wrong again, since you have to hit a certain enemy to open up shops to begin with. Also, you also have to spend 50 cards to enter a dungeon, then you also have to fight the boss. Trust me, your shitty little wand isn't good enough to carry you through the game, especially given how aggressively enemies attack and it still doesn't reflect projectiles. Yeah, there's bomb-items (crystals) and an upgrade ITEM (which isn't as good as it could be and you lose it from a single hit, which is dumb) and even a semi-effective barrier item, but here's where things get really stupid: You must BUY EVERYTHING. That's right, fucking nothing except cards drop from enemies, and not even all enemies drop cards and most drop 1 and only a few drop 5. Through a trick you can get one enemy to drop 30, and another to drop 50, but the latter requires that you had spent 40 to buy the upgrade that can kill him in the first place plus another 6 to actually kill him. Oh, and to save? You have to spend 10 cards at the shop. Then the game ends and you restart back at the starting spot (with the bosses you killed staying dead and presumably with your stats and supplies at the time of saving, but I don't know about the latter). There are post-boss bonus areas where you can earn extra cards and if you're one of those strategy guide types, you can find secret cards in certain spots, and even get some riceballs from waving your wand on certain statues, but there's no hints or indication that you could do that in the first place. Doing well in this game requires nothing short of perfect play in the first place, and given that the scrolling and movement are worse than the arcade version, that's expecting quite a lot.
The three lamest things though, despite the card bullshit are: 1) Poison. Yes you can get poisoned by certain enemies and your life gauge decreases. There's no antidote item either, you must wave your wand on certain statues (which again, the game doesn't give an indication of). 2) Every fucking boss dungeon is the same damn structure. I shit you not. Every last one. 3) There's insta-death. Certain things kill you on the spot, such as falling in water. Given the whole one life only factor, this is just plain idiotic. All in all, this was a nice idea, but the execution was just plain horrible. The only good thing that came out of this is that completely adorable cover art. Hell, I could go on about how two of the bosses are just copy-pasta versions of two others and that even the new final bosses aren't that interesting, but this shit is getting boring and I'd like to ask 3 things to nobody in particular before I move onto the last 3 games:
1) How can a bunch of GODS get kidnapped by some lame 1-hit-and-blarg-imded enemies? I mean, shit, they have fucking Bishamonten on their side for one. Even if you don't know who that is, just look at that sword and tell me it makes sense how he didn't put up a fight.
2) Is Manuke (Rocky) a guy or a girl? Supposedly it's a guy, but Taito calls it a girl (at least in Bubble Symphony).
3) Where the fuck is Orochi? The games apparently describe him as being the force behind all this bullshit, but in the first game, the last boss is Manuke and in the remix, it's the 3 gods of poverty. Did this honky fly the coop or something? I guess that the devs ran out of time or money, but if that's the case why even mention him?
Well, with that said, I'm sick of this fucking game and you probably are too. If not, you can watch a little bit of it here and read about it here. Needless to say, I won't ever add it to the wiki, and if YOU do, I'll hunt down a copy of this game, find you, and slap you in the face with it. Actually, I won't, but I will be very sad and disappointed with you.
Some brilliant fucking genius at Taito called up Natsume and got them to make the next two KiKi KaiKai games. I don't know who it was, but I am thankful. Things went back to the style of the first game. Except everything took a serious kick in the ass and became one of the best cute 'em ups of all time. Fucking EVERYTHING is better. Characters move faster, the life bar is improved AND you have lives and infinite continues, the wand now reflects projectiles (which do damage to enemies hit), you can fire off cards like the miko of the north star, you can slide to quickly move about, power-ups are more plentiful, there's different options of card upgrades, bombs work on bosses, 2-player mode is SIMULTANEOUS... oh man, the list goes on. And that's just gameplay. In addition, while each character plays similarly, Sayo, who I will now call Pocky, is a bit more offense-centric, while Manuke, here known as Rocky, is more defensive. This is evident in Pocky's wand-charge, which has her do a whirling spin-attack, useful for minor offense, but more importantly re/de-flecting projeciles back at enemies, and her bombs are a focused cross-shot of fire. Rocky on the other hand, has a wand-charge that turns the player into an invincible statue for a short while and his (technically a guy in the overseas) bombs scatter in a screen-wide ring formation. I'm guessing this is so Rocky can be more of a beginner-type or support-role, since he's the designated player 2, and despite the game giving you the choice between characters, more skilled players would probably stick with Pocky. My minor beef with the wand-charges is that Pocky's has a weird hit box when used as a melee-type offense (which can lead to her getting hurt almost unexpectedly) and that Rocky's isn't exactly clear on when you change back (it's about 4 seconds). Like you don't start blinking and you CANNOT revert at will either. This can lead to trouble when you suddenly pop back to normal when an enemy is right on you and you get hurt. Pocky has the advantage here since she can wand strike and slide out of her spin-attack (thus why more skilled players would use her, as beginners wouldn't quite catch onto this). There's also a slide combo move in co-op, which sends the impactee flying about the screen at the cost of some of their health. Unless things are desperate, you shouldn't use it, unless you're a jerk. My biggest complaint about this game and part of the reason why its rather difficult, is that several normal enemies have way too much health. Even with rapid-fire, some take too long to kill, and when you have other shit flying your way to worry about, it's hard to juggle everything while taking little-to-no damage and progressing through the stage. It reaches its peak of difficulty when you're fighting a boss, especially when said boss can have a tough pattern to dodge (now even more so since bosses have more attacks and patterns than the first two games). It's all possible, but it's pretty tough, and you can see why people prefer to have at least someone helping them in co-op. At least it's not as bullshit as the first 2 games could get. One other issue is that you can't quite "mix" power-ups. Getting a different power-up type weakens the attack of the one you had. So while you CAN stack one and switch to another and get a combo effect, it's never as good as just going one way or the other. Kind of a shame.
One thing this game deserves a complement on is aesthetics. The first two games, while having the ideas down, just ended up feeling repetitive and boring. Here, everything is lively, exciting, and different between stages. Things even change mid-stage, like a rainstorm in the middle of a sunny day or going from a forest to a river trip on a raft. The latter of which actually mixes up gameplay, since you have enemies aggressively pop up out of the water and try to grab, drag, and drown you, while the former just helps to keep things interesting on a visual level. The sound is really nice too, having several unique sound effects that I can't really attribute to any other game off the top of my head (not even other Natsume games) and the music is just cool. One somewhat subtle, but effective, factor in the soundtrack is an electric bass, which in addition to the rather traditional folk-sounding instruments, keeps things lively, in addition to the very active melodies, especially compared to the slow, dull, and sullen music of the first two games. All in all, a great, though not perfect, experience, that everyone should try at least once, and an excellent jump from its predecessors while building upon them immensely.
Pocky and Rocky 2... It's a step back as much as it is a step forward. It's definitely more inspired by the Famicom game than the arcade, but thankfully not for the worse. Well, for starters, you don't have a life bar any more. Instead, you have "hits". On the one hand, you can take any sort of damage per hit (as far as I know this game lacks insta-death attacks), instead of some attacks taking off more life than others, but on the other hand, the most you can take is 4 per life, and that's when fully maxed out (you only start and respawn with 2). There's also a wee bit more invulnerability after taking damage, which is a plus. The mobs of enemies aren't constantly popping up like P&R1 would do in areas (they still respawn a bit, but not nearly as much as before). This helps keep the stress down and lets you concentrate your focus easier. There's only one type of card power-up, which essentially combines the two from P&R1 to full effectiveness, the highest level giving you giant yet powerful cards. Sliding has sadly been removed, however, you seem to move a smidgen faster AND enemy attack patterns are built around this removal, so that's cool. The wand-charge is sadly gone, though you can still use your stick normally (and it seems to have a little more prominence now as well, partly due to no slide). In addition, both are more effective on normal enemies, a majority of which fall in a few hits versus that from P&R1 who could take a good deal more. While it isn't quite a "replacement" for the slide charge, instead you have the "Magic" system. This brought quite a bit of extra depth to gameplay, but is also the specific reason why I consider P&R2 something of a mixed advancement.
From the top, you always have a partner accompanying you now, be it through AI or a second player. The initial benefit to this is the fact that you get a bit of extra firepower, since you have a second attacker (though the AI-control doesn't always attack super-aggressively), really helping to speed things up, and further helping clear out the groups of enemies. The second factor, not immediately obvious, is the fact that you have a sort of "shield" in your partner. Enemies and bosses will always target Pocky, but if you move carefully, you can use your partner to take some damage in your stead. This isn't always a smart idea or always effective, depending on the enemy and attack they're using, but it can be handy in a pinch situation. However, while partners are "immortal" they aren't invincible, and will get knocked out after about 3 hits, and need to respawn. Thus, this is sort of a last resort kind of thing, mostly if you're down to your last hit or life. The last "obvious" factor, is that each ally tends to have a different method of attack (for the most part), such as Bomber Bob's tossing of his balls (ahem) versus the curving boomerang-sickles of the Scarecrow. Now, we get into the main factor of the Magic system, specifically possession ("Magic!"). This is one of the two biggest factors of the system, as each and every partner has their own little gimmick when possessed (which, strangely, cannot be used alone when controlled by player 2). Rocky can find hidden loot, Bob can lift heavy boulders to open up paths and sometimes find hidden loot, Little Ninja can open locked chests (and only chests, not doors) without using any keys that you or may not have, etc. What's neat is that with a found/dropped item, you can switch partners mid-stage (and awkwardly, it's the only way to use partners past the initial 3), which is great if you see a gimmick that a character needs, but you have the wrong partner out, yet that switch item is in view. It's kind of a shame as well, since if that item ISN'T around, but a gimmick is, then tough nuts. The second big factor here is that your partner doubles as the bomb replacement from P&R1. You toss them into an enemy and they explode into an effect. The area of damage is generally the same per character, but some are different, such as Tengy, who's bomb effect spirals around, giving it less concentration (technically), but lets it cover more ground, making it harder for foes, especially bosses, to not get injured. Additionally, Pocky can move and attack while this effect is in place, letting her deal additional damage on top of the bomb's, but also being able to dodge enemy attacks as well. One tiny thing of note about Magic (and in a much smaller window of opportunity, the toss animation of the bomb effect before it goes off) is that while the animation plays (the partner is swirled then bonked on Pocky's head), you are invulnerable to damage. While it's hard to use this effectively, you might find it handy for longer series of attack patterns by some bosses, and even a few enemies. There's a second window in the separation animation, but it's very small and much harder to take advantage off. All of this is all well and good for single player, but second player is less independent as a result and unless controlled by someone skilled, gets the shit end of things, as you can cause a bit more damage over time with partner-bombs (at least compared to the somewhat lax AI control) and the abuse of the Magic trick means they won't get as smooth a play experience as player 1 or that from P&R1. This especially applies to the bombs as there's a partner respawn time after using it. It's not that long, but it is a bitch for the second player when they're hoping for a smooth experience. This, at least to me, makes second player almost feel tacked on or, at best, a support role, since things are so geared for single player. P&R1 had both characters on equal footing. Both had life bars, lives, could collect power-ups, and have the same (general) types of abilities. I forgot to mention this before, but players could steal lives from each other as well. In addition (and this is just a given for co-op play), you had to share power-ups and life refills. That made it, well, cooperative. In P&R2, it's just more like, "Hey, if I promise not to throw you, could you mash the attack button on second player for me?" Part of this is from the lack of power-ups, but additionally the lack of abilities for each partner. As mentioned, each one tends to have a different Magic skill and attack type, but compared to Pocky, that's 2-3 less abilities to use. It's even worse that both players get the option to "use" Magic and bombs, when clearly, P1 is the one utilizing it. P2 can control the character when being Magic'd, but what's the point, since that's P1's job to begin with? I dunno, I just think that maybe they could have given Bob a tackle or Rocky his statue move from P&R1 and so on for other characters, or at the very least, let them use their Magic gimmick without being fused to Pocky. One thing that would have REALLY been useful would have been the option to change a partner on the fly, in either 1 or 2 player. Even if they had to respawn first, that's still another option that P2 has, and puts them on par with or potentially above Pocky, as well. Oh, and I almost forgot, you can't use ANY 2P action during the Mad Dog and Gordon stages, which is just a further slap in 2P's face.
Now that I've talked extensively about character gameplay and its pros and cons, I would like to note stages briefly. There isn't much to say. They're as good as P&R1's in terms of aesthetics, sometimes better (especially in the nice details of walking through tall fields, water, etc.), but a bit cut back on gimmicks like the raft segment and what not (understandable since this stuff seemed to be concentrated in the Mad Dog and Gordon stages). Instead, and this is where they shine, most stages have different paths for you to travel. This is great, since for one, they typically have different environments and also because they usually have different patterns and concentrations of enemies. The latter of which is nice for less skilled players, since they can have the option of going for an alternate and/or easier path if they pick the wrong one and get overwhelmed. Shops are back from Dotou Hen, but thankfully use MONEY and don't make you kill something just to enter them. Shops have all the useful things you'd expect (power-ups, lives, keys, etc.), and are, for the most part, reasonably priced. One nice little item shops have is a "surprise bag", which gives you random bonuses. This is nice, since you can sometimes double up on one bonus or get two separate bonuses. One other cool thing is how getting power-ups you've maxed out (or picking up the partner change item when it shows your current partner) gives you some decent bonus points, and how you these can rack up to quickly earn you extra lives (which you get after every 100000 points or so, and this actually adds up pretty quickly). The opportunities to net a good handful of these is definitely a godsend given the new life-hit system, but also because it gives a much more fairer challenge than P&R1, since lives could be shared AND were harder to come by back then. Another lesser item in some shops is a hint book, which gives you some small okay-ish protips on how to beat bosses. Not really necessary, but potentially useful to less skilled players. One other factor worth mentioning is visiting people. Throughout the game, you can pop in on huts, caves, houses, etc. in addition to shops to learn a bit more about the story, stages, and occasionally get some bonuses. One small, but somewhat irritating factor, is that sometimes doors are locked, and you use a key to open them (since Little Ninja can only open chests), then you just get some insignificant scene that's neither helpful nor beneficial. This isn't always the case (since some locked doors have people that are helpful), but it is a waste of a key. I guess this was done for the sake of revisiting stages in successive playthroughs and picking alternate paths to see what you missed the first time. Sorta makes sense, but kind of a dick move as well. Building off of that though, certain paths also have additional partners past your initial 3 for you to find and will join you, letting you switch out your current partner for them in-stages. It's a shame that you can't pick them from the menu, and as I said before, can't switch at your choosing, and have to rely on an item. This makes all of the minor RPG-element type stuff feel under-utilized as a result. It's still way better than Dotou Hen, but not nearly as awesome as it could be. At least there's a password system to continue with versus spending money/ammo.
Uh, well, music's still awesome, following the similar stylings of the first. In general, I kind of prefer this soundtrack over P&R1's, since in general it does a better job of mixing classical and modern over all. Kind of a given, seeing as how the composers would have gotten more skilled and familiar with the system's sounds after a while.
I can't really think of much more to say about this. Overall, it's technically an improvement, but at the same time, there's a bunch of things holding it back as well. In the end, it's still a great game, and while technically stronger than P&R1, it's kind of a weird double-edged sword. It's more effective, but for each time you kill someone with it, it makes you punch yourself in the face. I personally think it's best to think of it as less of a "sequel" so much as an alternate sort of game, sort of like how Dotou Hen was for the original KiKi KaiKai, except 50 thousand times less retarded.
Uhhhhhhh, Heavenly Guardian. Well, I haven't played it, but I've seen it played to completion and heard others talk about it. Most of the complaints are pretty valid, but, I'll still try to say what I can anyways.
I think the best way to describe this is less of a "spiritual successor" and more of an independent homage and/or dojin (doujin?) kind of game. It doesn't exactly play or look like a commercial release at least (despite being so). The backgrounds are very static and fairly basic, the animations are simple and sometimes a bit "motion tween"-centric (especially for some bosses). The effects are... okay-ish. I've seen worse, but I've seen a hell of a lot better, if only from P&R, which wasn't really that graphics heavy to begin with. From the coloring, to the numbers, to the half-ass overly-literal and dull translations, everything just seems so unrefined and has that "independent" feel to it, that tends to be seen in most doujin projects. The problem is that most of those have good ideas, controls, and gameplay behind them, sometimes good music as well (the music here is pretty damn bland and nowhere near as good as P&R), or fun characters and enemies, etc. This just feels like a "seen this, done that" sort of ordeal. Enemies are generic, and not as strongly centered in mythology, the art style is just a general "2000s anime" feel, without having a somewhat unique cutesy flair like P&R did, and overall everything feels uncreative. Shit. I haven't even started talking about the gameplay yet.
Well, for this sort of thing, it's okay, I guess. It's definitely styled a bit more after P&R1. There's alternate fire power-ups, and, from what I can tell, they can be powered up. I don't know if it's quite like P&R1, where mixing power ups gives you an inferior cross of both, but as far as I know, it just seems to replace whatever you have. Not sure if it knocks you down a notch or not. Since there don't seem to be shops, you find all your power ups. You also get additional life bar units by finding 3 snowflakes per extra unit (I guess like Zelda), and these are found by searching the levels and in set-aside areas you go out of you way to find. That's another thing I'm kinda on the fence about. The levels are big, and can be re-traversed, but fucking sparse. There's some things you can jump on or over (a minor addition over classic P&R), but jumping in itself doesn't seem to do much, assuming you can without an obstacle to hop on/over. The levels in P&R were a bit on the short side early on, but even then had a sort of structure to them. Here they just seem like a big pizza and with the "structure" being navigating some sparsely and unevenly placed obstacles. Yeah, it's big and open, but ends up boring because this is the sort of game where level structure matters to make be careful with how you evade and attack. When you can move pretty much anywhere at any time, it's almost too easy, because all you have to worry about are the fairly non-threatening enemies, who don't really seem to have many patterns, and just kind of pop up sporadically. Sayuki has bomb type spells to use, but I'm not sure how many different types or what all are their uses, so I can't fully comment on their uses or effectiveness. Apparently, you can freeze certain water ponds and things with them, but I don't know which ones or for how long.
I haven't seen any videos with co-op play, but supposedly it's kinda fun and Miyuki can do everything that Sayuki can. I don't know if you have to share life-up items or if you can steal lives. Surprisngly, for all the flak this game gets, most of the info about it is only fully known to those who played it (most seemingly doing it only in single player). I heard the story's a little different, not like anyone gives a shit. Another big flaw of this game is its lack of save or password system. It can be beaten in a day, even with the harder 2nd loop, but you'd think it'd be a given to put in. Guess not. This could definitely be a bitch in co-op mode though.
All in all, HG is less of a "successor" to P&R so much as it is a love letter to it. Except the love letter has horrible handwriting and the recipient finds the sender to be a total turn-off. If it were much more refined, I think it could have been kick ass. Like the KiKi KaiKai games, the ideas are good, but the execution is so lacking, it's almost sad. That said, I dunno, I still want to play it myself. I wouldn't pay full price for it though. Maybe find it pre-owned at fucking Gamestop or something. I guess I want to see if there's anything good I'm missing by not playing it directly, or alternatively, see how bad the shit gets. I guess I'm just a sick fuck like that. Either way, I could better write about this game in better detail. Maybe it might be worth putting on the Wiki? Eh, I doubt it. I'd probably go for the PS2 version either way, since the Wii version's controls are kinda dumb from what I've heard. For the curious, you can see the single player mode with both loops here.
What do you mean "You forgot a game" and that I should write about it? "Pocky and Rocky with Becky"? What the fuck is that? I have never heard of that in the history of ever, and I am quite sure it does not exist. I talked about a "Becky" before? I was delusional. This is one of those imaginary games people talk about that don't exist, just like Devil May Cry 2 and Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time. However, I will humor you and talk about it as if it did exist.
It certainly wasn't a huge letdown. No, anything but. It was a COLOSSAL FUCK UP. God damn. For one, it wasn't developed by Natsume, so that's already bad news from the start. No, it was developed by Altron, Japanese devs who make cartoon and TV-show tie-in shovelware games and have only made like 3 good games (Robo Pit was OKAY) since they started out, one of which is just a minor remix of a game that already existed that they didn't make and the other two is a fun little SNES puzzle game and its port on GBC. So yeah, technically, all they've just made one good game. Hardly the best track record and not exactly a dev you want to give your fondly-remembered franchise to. Here's the next problem: Title. When westerners think of "Pocky and Rocky", they think fast paced games with lots of action and firepower. This is a purely a KiKi KaiKai game. It's slow, has short stages, and worst of all, is SINGLE PLAYER ONLY. Shit, even in Dotou Hen you could trade off. This, you can't even link up. I wouldn't want anyone to suffer through this anyways.
Let's get on to the meat of the problem: Gameplay. Let's say, I ask you to play Gunstar Heroes for a little bit. Then, I asked you to play Cheetahmen. That's how big of drop this game is from the P&R games. Not only do you NOT have: the Wand-charge, magic, sliding, partners and the ability to switch between them, 2 player (even turn-taking), a health bar beyond two shitty little hits (and you can't even recover them until you die or the stage is beaten, and you can't gain more than 2, AND there was only ONE hit per life in the JP version), instant respawn, shops, people to visit, branching paths, neat level design, thought out enemy formations, bosses who are actually fun to fight, and stages that mix things up a bit; You NOW have: uneven enemy life bars, sporadic enemy behavior, boring bosses, backtracking respawns, a stupid need for keys to unlock boss doors again, certain lame obstacles that kill you in one hit (like rivers), a wand attack that doesn't reflect jack shit, slow character movement, limited range cards/leaves until powered up, slow moving cards/leaves (even when powered up), and a bunch of other stupid shit from before that I'm so mad that I don't even want to list. Well, one big issue is that bombs are now retarded again, like how they were in KiKi KaiKai. Bombs can't be used on bosses, and characters don't even have different bomb types. Instead, there's a generic rain of laser beams that stops time, shoots a few spots, killing all enemies on the screen then you can move again. Not only is this worse than 1, which at least had 2 bomb types, the animation doesn't even seem fitting for this sort of game. Maybe if it were a flurry of mantras or cards or something, but as is, it's sci-fi looking and sounding and purely out of place. Even worse, it's the same thing for all characters, being most juxtaposed with Rocky. Another absolutely fucktarded thing they changed was upgrades. Each character has their own "technique", which you only get to use after getting a certain scroll. This can be upgraded by getting extra scrolls of the same type to boost their effect. Rocky's is OP in theory, being homing projectiles that let you hit enemies with no skill needed, but it's pretty weak power-wise, and only really good for normal enemies and bosses when you're feeling lazy. Becky's is the best, being multiple multi-directional cards per shot, and each card causing damage. Pocky's while technically being the "most powerful", comes off pretty lame. It's an explosion shot meant to do more damage per shot, as each card that hits does a second with exploding, but the blast is so small it's not even worth it, even when powered up. On top of that, the boosted power card power-up does more damage IIRC (at least early on). That power-up though, is where things get stupid. Getting it changes your projectile to a red shot and eventually fireball, when you stack it, but you can't use your technique shot. While the technique shot is more powerful anyways, you lose fucking everything if you happen to pick up the fire power-up. So all those extra cards, homing leaves, and explosions are gone in place of a shitty pierce shot, which doesn't even matter since a majority of enemies are so weak, they can get killed by one shot anyways (barring a few annoying assholes). It does a bit more damage to bosses per shot, but the tech shot does more on top of that. Why even have the fire power-up then? It's fucking worthless in comparison and only serves to dick you over. The shot speed and shot range power ups are back from KiKi KaiKai, but why not just have them automatic from the start? Especially coming from P&R where they were both fast and traveled across the screen rapidly.
Before I wrap up, I want to talk about aesthetics. This game is just bad at it. The background sprites are all purely static and overly pixelated, attempting for a semi-realistic pre-rendered look, which just comes off as ugly. The character sprites are overly big and ugly. The enemies are too tiny in comparison (even most bosses). There's no neat special effects like P&R. The animations are just lame. Most are a tiny few frames, and some are just bad to look at. A big one being Rocky's tail animation when he's facing down (since he turns around to swipe his tail "forward" in the way he's facing across all games). It fucking breaks apart mid-animation, crawls up to his shoulders, then relocates, returning to land on his lower back, then it reverses and you see the shit all over again. I mean, shit. It wasn't anything particularly special in P&R, being a brief, but effective smear/wipe (used in cartoons for quick motions; see: Super Wide Man), but it got the job done and in a tiny few frames, for a fast framerate game. In this game, it's a slow frame rate, and a fucking bad animation. Pocky/Becky's card animation is a shitty little hand wave and cards suddenly pop up in front of them. Hell, even in P&R it looked like the cards were being thrown, with actual effort, even if the animation was like 3 frames. This sort of shit applies all over. The animation and art design is just dull, lifeless, and boring. The same could be said about the music. Where as P&R mixed things up in terms of musical genres and melodies, this game's soundtrack is just "generic Japan stage #74" every fucking song. They try to use some modern instruments and stylings here and there, but it just comes off bad. It's not exciting or fun like P&R's songs were. I mean, it's not like you can't use classic instruments alone and create something funky or modern, just look at the Ganbare Goemon series, and it's not like the GBA's soundchip was THAT limited. Gawdammit, man.
This is perhaps the biggest question I have about this game in general: Why KiKi KaiKai? I mean, you have 2 good games in the series, why remake (yes, this game is essentially the exact same in structure, even if the bosses are mixed up and a few are different, and a few of the stages are slightly modified to be a bit less generic) the second worst? I want to know what that person was thinking when they thought of this. Did they never even play the P&R games? Were they just too hard for the company to attempt, so they took the easy way out? Did they just fucking hate progress and want to take everything back to the bronze age? I don't know, but they're a fucking asshole, either way. I don't think I've ever been so let down by a "sequel" in my entire life, especially when I was so hyped for it when I had first heard of it. I mean, I can at least look at the first two KiKi KaiKai games and think "Hey, those were nice concepts, but it's a shame the executions were so weak". With this, it's just one big slap in the face and punch in the junk and utter disappointment all around. At the very least, Orochi finally shows up as the last boss after 4 games, though he's called "GIANT SNAKE"/"HYDRA"/"BIG GHOST", all of which come off as fucking stupid. He's also a pretty boring final boss as well. Oh, and the translation in this game is too literal and boring. Honestly, this game makes Heavenly Guardian seem like a godsend, which is partly why I was so looking forward to HG when it came out, then learned more about it over the years and lost my enthusiasm for it. If you really give a shit about it, and I pity you if you do, save yourself the trouble and just watch this.
So there you have it. It was fun pretending to talk about a game I never played that doesn't exist. Becky is just a pet name for Miki, who only showed up in one game in the series and some cameos in non-related games with Sayo. Now let's NEVER talk about this imaginary game ever again. EVER.
In the end, it's pretty heart-rending how this series turned out. It started off weak, got worse, flew up into greatness, got a bit higher and into turbulence, then did a spiraling crash into a pile of shit (which doesn't exist). I don't understand how or why this happened honestly. It wasn't ever a super popular series, so it's not like brand name would carry it forever. Would KiKi KaiKai 2 (the canceled game, that by some strange turn of events, lots a bunch of content, the license, and trans-mutated into Heavenly Guardian by some kind of forbidden alchemy) have been good? I don't know any more. It seemed kinda cool. Even if it wasn't on par with the P&R games, maybe it could have left a better ending note than what we got. Maybe not.
I'd definitely like to see a third game that's P&R duology-tier. The question is who could do it? Natsume hasn't made a game since Cheer We Go, as most of their stuff is handed off to other devs, so I don't think they could do it. Square-Enix doesn't really give a shit about anything that doesn't have Final Fantasy on it (since they own Taito and all Taito properties now (KiKi KaiKai is Taito's property originally and now as well)). Eidos maybe? Fuck, I don't know. I'd definitely like to have the P&R composer at least, but I'm not even sure if most of the people who DID work on the P&R games still work on games anymore. As is, all I can do is sigh and daydream about what could have been and try to forget what ended up happening.
This is ridiculous. How did I end up writing MORE for this series as I did for Dragon Quest? I don't even like it THAT much.