Friday, May 27, 2016

Rockin’ Kats Review (NES) - SuperPhillip Central Patron Post

If you've been following SuperPhillip Central lately, then you probably remember me posting about my new Patreon initiative to help to continue covering recently releases in a timely fashion. One of the benefits and rewards of being a backer of my Patreon is the ability to write monthly guest posts on a topic of your choosing.

The first of these posts is from a recent Patreon contributor, lunar4lyfe. The following is his review of an overlooked NES game called Rockin' Kats. Once you check out his review, I'm sure you'll gain some interest in trying it out.

Check out the original review here.


Rockin’ Kats is an action/platform game released by Atlus in 1991 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It’s a great little side-scrolling action game that never reached the popularity of SMB 3. It’s too bad, because it’s a charming and fun platformer with a funky backstory(more on that in a minute). Because of it’s cartoony box art, Rockin’ Kats was most likely dismissed by gamers back in the day as just another kids’ game, though the cat vs dog theme could have been an awesome cartoon back in the 90’s (who didn’t like Tom & Jerry?).

Storyline and Level Design

Willy is a cool jazz cat with a punch gun that shoots out a punching glove. How cool is that??  His girlfriend Jill is kidnapped by the dog crime boss of New York, Mugsy. And now Willy needs to rescue Jill so they can be together. Ah, the storylines of 8-bit era games, so simple yet classic. Fun Fact: The Japanese version of Rockin’ Kats is called NY Nyankies, yes, it’s a play on words (New York Yankees, if you didn’t catch it). Now on to the levels, each level is a “channel”, you can play channel 1-4 in order you like. The final level, channel 5 only appears after you have finished all the other levels. Willy can also buy upgrades to his punch gun, like bombs and spike ball. Once you have purchased the upgrade from the store,  you can switch between them on the fly and use the new upgrades as you see fit. There are situations in the game where a specific upgrade would be the perfect solution and makes it much easier to pass. For example, there is a level with long jumps and if you fall into the river, you lose a life. But if you have the rocket skates, then it makes the platform jumping much easier. This small strategic element might not seem much, but it increases the replay value after your initial play through of the game. Levels will play differently depending on what upgrades you get after the first level.

Controls and Gameplay

Rockin’ Kats isn’t particularly difficult, especially if you have enough money after the first level to buy all the upgrades. There is a “secret” level, that is somewhat more difficult, but overall, it’s of low to medium difficulty. The whole game can be beaten within a few hours. The control is solid, with just a jump button and an action button, but is very responsive. I hate NES games with “muddy” controls. To make the platforming more interesting, Willy’s punch gun can be used to propel and bounce off of walls, ground, and even enemies.  That makes it possible, to an extent, to “climb” walls or bounce off of enemies to reach a new height. If you hold the action button, Willy’s punch gun will hold out its glove and you can pick up certain items and throw them at the enemy. The bounce is pretty satisfying, after a while I find myself bouncing across levels instead of just “walking”. Willy can also grapple on to ledges and swing himself to higher ground or cross a large chasm. I am pretty amazed at the level of interaction developers have put into the design. For example, the best weapon in the game (Spike Ball Glove) can punch away almost anything including bullets and other projectiles, and is also stronger than the regular punch glove obviously. There are also small nuances that only after playing for a bit can you “get it”. For example, if you jump and punch the ground diagonally, Willy will propel in the direction opposite of the punch and if you touch an enemy while propelling, it is considered a hit. It becomes more natural how that works once you have done it.

Value and Rarity

While not as expensive as some of the other similar games, Rockin’ Kats is still somewhat “rare” at around $70. You will have no trouble finding a good condition, cart only copy of the game on eBay for around that price. Though a complete CIB copy could run you around $200ish. A recent CIB excellent copy was sold at $170 range. It’s becoming harder to collect CIB copies of NES games as good copies most likely already found its way into a collector’s shelf. There are listings on eBay currently that is selling just the box for $100! Which is pretty ridiculous as the game is only $70. It’s been happening with alot of games, that the box and manual have become more scarce because people used to discard boxes because they take up room and offer no real “entertainment” value. Nowadays, with retro collecting more prevalent, people are hopefully starting to keep boxes and cases of their games.


Rockin’ Kats is a charming action/platform game that is still fun in today’s gaming world. While graphics, level design and storyline are somewhat mediocre, the varied gameplay mechanics and the funky music are excellent. Hardcore retro gamers will probably find the game a bit too easy, but I still enjoyed my recent playthrough. It’s become a cult classic that is causing its value to steadily increase. NES collectors playing it for the first time will not be disappointed, and sitting at around $70 for a cart only copy, it is still very easily collectible. Get it now while it’s still relatively unknown, I have a feeling that it will continue to increase in value for years to come.


Once again, thanks to lunar4lyfe for this interesting read and for contributing to SuperPhillip Central in an immeasurable way.

No comments: