In 1991 the good people of Atlus released a game by the name of N.Y. Nyankies for the Famicom in Japan. Later that year North America would receive it as Rockin’ Kats. When I finally got my hands on a copy of Rockin’ Kats, many years later, I remember loving it right from the start. At its core the game is a platformer much the same as the Super Mario Bros. series, but Rockin’ Kats brought its own style to the genre and added aspects that made it feel completely unique.
In Rockin Kats the player takes control of a blue cat by the name of Willy. Willy is a young jazz musician in New York City with the nickname of The Rockin’ Kat. To add a goal to the game, Willy’s girlfriend Jill has been kidnapped by the local crime boss, Mugsy. Willy must now fight through different levels, armed only with his punch gun. The levels are presented in a television channel like system, rather than linear levels, with varying themes, opponents, mini bosses and bosses. Ultimately Willy must rescue his love Jill and defeat Mugsy.
In total there are five stages, with the first four stages being playable in any order. The fifth and final stage becomes available once the other four have been defeated. There is also a shopping channel where the player can buy bonus items with the cash they’ve obtained throughout the game to help them throughout any of the other stages. If the cash found in any given stage isn’t enough, there is also a bonus channel with mini games for additional cash and extra lives, however in this case it takes money to make money. Rockin’ Kats also offers a fairly simple password feature to keep the progress players have put their time and effort into.
Once Mugsy is defeated and launched into outer space, Willy and Jill are reunited, but that’s not the end of the story. Although peace has been restored, after the credits roll, Mugsy will challenge the player to one more time around. You can choose to stop before the credits, as you did beat the game, but the added bonus is a way to get just a little more play out of this game.
Rockin’ Kats isn’t really a challenging game, but some aspects can be a bit tricky for the player during a first time play through. Learning to use the punch gun is key to mastering the various ways it can help the player defeat bosses and master level environments. The levels aren’t all that long either, but the mini boss and boss fights can take a little time to learn their patterns. Rockin’ Kats is a game I played and replayed so many times as a kid. I’ve seen a few people talk about it, but not as much as I really think this game deserves. I feel Rockin’ Kats is an absolute NES classic and should be talked about far more than it currently is.