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Retro Fire

Written: 11.9.06
Acquired: 10.11.06
Status: CIB
Price: $50

Publisher: TOHOReleased: 12.22.94
Developer: TOHOScarcity: 4.5

According to Japanese folklore, the Tanuki possesses shape-shifting powers. They sure love this little creature... it serves as a good luck symbol to our friends from the far East. You can find them in shops and Japanese gardens, all sorts of places. They're almost as frequent as the Maneki Neko (The cat with the paw raised for good fortune)

Tanuki by the way translates to "Raccoon Dog"

And here comes a game from the Land of the Rising Sun that will appeal to all Tanuki lovers...

                     This sucker had me hunting for some time.
                     A friend told me in October 2006 that Poko
is even harder to find than Rendering
(!). Don't know how accurate that
                     claim is, but I trust his word. About a week
                     later I found one CIB for just $50, a collector
                     I know paid $150 for his not too long ago!

                     Gleaning from the box art, you probably
                     could guess the genre... yes, platformer,
                     thank you, you in the back

Ever since I saw this in EGM #66 Jan. '95, I've been curious about it... the look of the game I always felt was right up my alley

wasn't kidding -- how very easy this game is. You can't die! The timer running out doesn't end gameplay, nor does any amount of hits from the bad guys. Being a popular anime with young children, this game was created with them in mind. A four-year-old could beat this! The game has 15 levels and can be finished in 40 minutes, even sooner if you rush straight for the exit

Doing his best Sonic impersonation

Not sounding good, eh?

But wait -- what's this? The game's a RIOT?! Yes, it is. Poko (I think that's his name) is such a likable chap, much like Rascal. The various stages are beautiful, likewise for the set-pieces and even the enemies themselves are cute. Just take one look at the wild boar who, before charging, has a silly exclamation mark bubble pop over his head

The set-pieces are awesome not just because of how they look but also how they come into play. Some have several platforms Poko can hop on, or hop down from. Down + jump makes Poko drop to the platform below. This becomes oddly fascinating in and of itself, as it's fun to knock off baddies from above. May not sound all that great, but you'd be surprised

Some other cool ones:

Reminiscent of SNES Lion King


                                                                                Looking a little sick there buddy

WHAT?  I'm number one?  Thanks...

These little things add a lot to the game's charm

And staying true to Japanese folklore, this Tanuki has plenty of shape-shifting prowess!

(All forms can double jump by the way, including Poko)

By pressing R, Poko changes
into a high-jumping kangaroo

                                     Up + R?  This bird with
                                     unlimited flight!

Down + R?  This little runt!

                                 ... Who can do this rolling
                                 offensive manuever on the
                                 lesser baddies

You can switch to any form at any time. There are no limits. You can switch back to Poko by pressing R again. You're also switched back if hit by a baddie. The different transformations adds a lot of flavor to the game

The 15 levels are spread over 5 different "worlds" each guarded by one of 5 nasty foxes. These boss battles, like the rest of the game, are a cinch. The later bosses have some cool powers though

While the game is short, the key is to explore the levels rather than rushing to the end. There is also a point score where bouncing off consecutive baddies allots major points, so at least there's a point system

Let's check out some random action...

Those arrows will send Poko soaring through the grapes

                                 This groovy roller coaster
                                 multi-tier stage is one of
                                 my faves... it's a lot of fun
                                 to mess around with.
                                 There are so many
                                 different levels to jump
                                 off and on... good stuff

Check out the whale in the
background. The big puffy
clouds are pretty cool, too.
I love the art style of Poko
  It's just gorgeous

                                     Platforming rule #162:
                                     Must have water stage

Rule #163: Don't forget the ice too

                             More Northern Lights in SFC
                             games!  I'm not complaining
                             though, I love starry nights
                             and Northern Lights in my
                             games!  They'll always be
                             welcomed in my book


                          And right on cue -- starry night
                          setting!  Ace!  This is another
                          one of my favorite levels... I
                          love how Poko can hop on
                          just about anything, including
                          those star pieces... it's all
                          kind of... almost dreamy...
                          game has a sweet and unique
                          atmosphere for sure

Simple though it may be, it's deceptively fun


Poko Nyan!
won't light your world
on fire, but it's very charming and
enjoyable. Scrolling is a bit herky
jerky at times, but not bothersome
enough to deduct from the game.
It's perfect for kids, and a treat for
anyone who's still a kid-at-heart