Here's an amazing-but-true fact for you: not everybody was trying to copy Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. at the close of the Nintendo Entertainment System era. Some publishers were trying to copy Capcom's Bionic Commando. That brings us to the next installment of Beyond Beeps in which I guide you through some of my favorite video gaming soundtracks that deserve some time in the spotlight. Today we'll be listening to clips from Atlus's Rockin' Kats, a fun little NES platformer that took the classic cats versus dogs rivalry and applied a little bionic arm action to the mix. A little title screen music if you please!
Rockin' Kats is presented as a multi-episode television series in which each episode has the same basic plot: feline Willy is searching for his girlfriend Jill who has been kidnapped by the local criminal kingpin, Mugsy the bulldog. This little tune plays on the level selection screen.
Each episode takes Willy to a different TV-inspired level. One channel is set against an amusement park, for example, while another takes place in the old west. Below we have the level tunes for the first channel: a snippet from the city streets overworld followed by the rockin' subway theme.
Willy is a typical action platformer hero in that he must walk and jump his way through these different worlds, although the twist comes with Willy's weapon of choice. Our hero cannot jump onto enemies to defeat them, but instead makes uses of the traditional cartoon sping-loaded boxing glove to get the job done. Enemies can either be punched directly or (and here's the Bionic Commando angle) Willy can latch onto ledges with the glove and spin 360 degrees around the attach point, whacking enemies who wander into radius of the swing. The punchglove is also used to swing and flip Willy over and across all manner of obstacles. Most levels move in a left-to-right fashion with an emphasis on pounding enemies, but there are several large underground vertical segments that rely on Willy's punchglove flipping abilities. Below we hear the murky sewer theme.
At the end of each level Willy comes up against one of Mugsy's criminal accomplicies such as the maniacally musical Bull Band or Mugsy's own pet eagle. Each boss encounter begins with a brief conversation between Willy, Jill, and Mugsy that sets up the battle. Here we have the music that plays during these conversations and the battle itself.
After clearing the game's first four worlds a special final fifth level becomes available: "I Love New York", a massive series of levels that borrows elements from previous worlds including rematches with each boss, both mini- and major. Enjoy the music of the end of the Big Apple channel as Willy approaches Mugsy's hideout.
Eventually the whole thing comes to an end with a one-on-one encounter with Mugsy himself. Take a listen to his theme.
Willy and Jill are reunited in the end and Mugsy is blasted into orbit and to the moon, leading to this tender victory theme. Hang around after the credits for Mugsy's inevitable return in a special challenge level that relies heavily on mastery of the punchglove.
Even the best Bionic Commando clones have to end sometime, meaning that we've reached the end of this installment of Beyond Beeps.
(Screenshots courtesy MobyGames)