Whenever I hear that Atlus has a new video game to announce, I hold out hopes and light a candle for a revival of the company's 1991 Nintendo Entertainment System classic platformer Rockin' Kats, but instead it's all Persona and Shin Megami Tensei all the time. No matter; I am a patient man. As for you, if you're unfamiliar with the fun wonder that is Rockin' Kats, then lucky for you that Hardcore Gaming 101 is here to educate you in the ways of kitty protagonist Willy, his girlfriend Jill, and bulldog bully Mugsy. Part DuckTales and part Bionic Commando, Rockin' Kats truly does rock. Here's Dylan Cornelius at HG101 describing the mechanics of Willy's signature weapon: the punch gun.
The Punch Gun is the heart of Rockin' Kats. The Punch itself is a large fist that emerges from Willy's gun, and is one part weapon, one part swinging mechanism and one part pogo stick. If you've ever bounced on Scrooge McDuck's cane in Capcom's DuckTales, the pogo stick will seem familiar. Punching little gangster dogs in the face shouldn't be much trouble for anyone that's played a platformer with a weapon. Using the Gun to swing, however, doesn't come as naturally. When you shoot the gun at a platform, the fist attaches itself to the platform. From here, you swing with the 'B' button and press the 'B' button again to detach when ready. It's easy enough to launch Willy forward across chasms or bodies of water, but there are sections where you'll need to swing him backwards to reach an out-of-the-way platform or combine the swing with the pogo ability to move upwards. The more complex maneuevers never feel natural, and often result in trial-and-error deaths if you misjudge the momentum or timing of your swing.
I rented Rockin' Kats many times at the Movie Gallery in 1991 and I was determined to reach the end. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the end wasn't so easy to reach. Complete the game's four main levels and a fifth level unlocks featuring a boss rush of all of the previously featured enemies and a showdown with Mugsy himself. Even that was not the end; after all of that, Mugsy challenges Willy to one last lengthy level designed around more intense challenges and remixed encounters. Moreover, in this final stage, all of Willy's hard-earned weapons and items are disabled. It takes skill to make it to the true end of Rockin' Kats, but it's well worth the journey. The soundtrack offers the kind of peppy, energetic charm that was the hallmark of the best NES games. Willy and friends are nowhere to be found today, sadly, and this game is perfect for a Virtual Console revival on Nintendo platforms. I really hope that Atlus brings it back. It's a purrfect perfect game to pick up and play without a major commitment.