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Video Game / Kiki Kai Kai

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Kiki Kai Kai Arcade Screenshot

Kiki Kai Kai (奇々怪界) is a relatively obscure arcade game made by Taito in 1986 in Japan. It features a young Miko named Sayo who has to save the Seven Lucky Gods and the boat they were in from various odd creatures out to kill you with Rapid-fire Ofuda and a Gohei. It was re-released in Taito Legends 2 (all versions).

Come 1993, a SNES game featuring little Sayo-chan and Manuke, a leaf-throwing Tanuki is released in the west as Pocky & Rocky.

The whole series has 6 games in total:

  • Kiki Kai Kai (Arcade, 1986)
  • Kiki Kai Kai Doutou Hen (Famicom Disk System, 1987), an obscure Metroidvania-ish remake of the first game. First game to feature Miki, a green version of Sayo.
  • Kiki Kai Kai: Nazo no Kuro Manto / Pocky & Rocky (SNES, 1992 in Japan, 1993 in the west) First game released in the west and first Co-op game of the series. Sayo is Pocky, Manuke is Rocky. Developed & published by Natsume.
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  • Kiki Kai Kai Tsukiyozoushi / Pocky & Rocky 2 (SNES, 1994) This game features changeable sidekicks instead of two equal characters. Also developed & published by Natsume.
  • Kiki Kai Kai Advance / Pocky & Rocky with Becky (GBA, 2001) (Kind of a) Remake of the First game. Developed by Altron, but still published by Natsume in the U.S.; Miki is renamed to Becky to keep the naming scheme.
  • Kiki Kaikai: Nazo no Kuro Mantle / Pocky & Rocky Reshrined (Nintendo Switch and Sony PlayStation 4, scheduled for release in Fall 2021)

The series also have a Spiritual Successor with Heavenly Guardian, which is the result of the developers losing the license after Taito was bought out by Square Enix.


Tropes used in the series:

  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Averted with the original Pocky & Rocky (though the box design was almost completely different from the in-game design). Sure enough, however, by 1994 the Western box art for Pocky & Rocky 2 has the characters looking less cute and much angrier.
  • Badass Adorable: Sayo/Pocky.
  • Boobs of Steel: Impy from Pocky & Rocky 2 is a physically mighty oni girl with a large bust, though it is only noticeable in cutscenes.
  • The Cameo: Sayo herself appears in many other Taito games. As a boss in the NES port of Rainbow Islands, as the designated Miko for any of the Taito-made Jinsei Game ports, a whole Kiki Kai Kai themed level set with a Sayo-form Manuke included in Bubble Symphony, as a selectable character in Pop N Pop and Space Invaders '95 and as a DLC character for Elevator Action Deluxe.
  • Clothing Damage: Sayo/Pocky's health meter in Pocky & Rocky 2. Her clothes are tattered (but not to Fanservice levels) when she has one hit left, and she can collect armor and bunny ears for one extra hit each. If you're familiar with the health system of the first Ghosts 'n Goblins game made by Capcom, then you should know the full story!
  • Cultural Translation:
    • The youkai were renamed "Nopino Goblins" in the intro for Pocky & Rocky.
    • In Pocky & Rocky 2, all of the names were changed to Western ones. References to Japanese folklore are changed (Momotarou became "Captain Peach", for example), Pocky's Ofuda and Gohei are called "magic cards" and a "magic wand", and the kanji on said cards are replaced with hearts (though the giant kanji in Bomber Bob's throw attack was left intact). It's still a relatively minor example, as the hearts were the only visual change and everything still looks and feels very Japanese.
  • Cute 'em Up: The game looks like an anime where everyone is super deformed.
  • Difficulty by Region: Kiki Kai Kai Advance had One-Hit Point Wonder characters and no save system. Its North American version, Pocky & Rocky With Becky, gave two hit points to the characters and added a password system.
  • Dub Name Change: Everyone. Sayo-chan becomes Pocky. Manuke becomes Rocky. The youkai become the Nopino Goblins.
  • Expy: Sayo Yuuki and Reimu Hakurei were originally expies of Sayo/Pocky, the former came from a game which was released on the arcades by Taito and was apparently named after her model, the latter was closer in appearance in the early games of her series which was made by one guy who was a fan of Darius Gaiden, which was made by Taito.
    • In fact, that guy (ZUN) worked for Taito before becoming indie later (He derived his name from Taito's in-house music team Zuntata).
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Manuke/Rocky, the last boss of the original, no less, allies with Sayo/Pocky after getting attacked by some bigger demons than him in Pocky & Rocky. He genuinely becomes Sayo/Pocky's friend after this game.
  • Flechette Storm: The fifth boss, a mountain hag named Sanba (localized as "Canimal" in Pocky & Rocky 2), uses this attack. She fires knives in volleys of three or five across the screen.
  • Fusion Dance: The Magic in Pocky & Rocky 2 seems to be a Power Booster type, except for Scarecrow and Ottobot, whom Pocky just rides.
  • Go for the Eye: The first level arcade boss, a bean creature named Zuzu, can have its eyes shot out with Sayo's ofuda.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: In Pocky & Rocky 2.
  • Karakasa: The recurring umbrella enemies named Kasabee, playing off the Eyelid Pull Taunt. (In Pocky & Rocky, their name was translated as Umby.)
  • Mascot Mook: The Puka Pukas, which are cute ghost wisps.
  • Miko: Sayo/Pocky and Miki/Becky
  • Nintendo Hard: The games have the typical high difficulty of the genre, but especially the original arcade: One-hit deaths, kicking you back instead of continuing right where you left off if you lose a life (most vexing when you die on a boss battle), and erratic AI patterns who often have projectiles of their own. Even worse, the first boss of the game is actually harder than the next few bosses!
  • One-Hit Point Wonder:
    • The original.
    • Also Kiki Kai Kai Advance, but NOT Pocky & Rocky With Becky (see Difficulty by Region above).
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Impy to Pocky in Pocky & Rocky 2.
  • Orochi: The final boss of Kiki Kai Kai Advance seems to be one, unleashing his eight heads in waves (one head, two, four, then one more) before you defeat them all and it transforms into a more ghost-like snake wreathed in flames.
  • Palette Swap: Miki/Becky is essentially a green version of Sayo/Pocky.
  • Paper Talisman: Sayo/Pocky uses them as ranged weapons.
  • Power-Up Letdown: In at least the TurboGrafx-16 version of Kiki Kai Kai, the blue power-ups increase your range - but they also give the bosses more health to compensate.
  • Recurring Boss: Zuzu, the bean-throwing youkai, is the first boss of almost every game in the series; Kiki Kai Kai Advance is the only game where he doesn't appear. In the second SNES game, Zuzu appears in the training stage as a target to practice throwing your partner at.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Takuan/Bomber Bob and Shinobi/Little Ninja in the second SNES game. Nothing is said as to who they are or how they know Sayo/Pocky, but they and Manuke/Rocky are the initial group of partners.
  • Spread Shot: In Pocky & Rocky, collecting blue power-ups gives you an Initial Burst.
    • In Pocky & Rocky 2, Sayo/Pocky's first power-up gives you a Spray Burst.
    • In Pocky & Rocky With Becky, Initial Burst is Miki/Becky's power.
  • Tanuki: Manuke/Rocky, of course. There is also a much meaner armored tanuki who serves as a miniboss in Pocky & Rocky 2.
  • Tengu: The third level arcade boss is one; it's of the mountain monk variety, complete with leaves in its hands. Its main attack is blowing fire from its snout but if Sayo tries to circle around the creature, it uses its leaves to blast Sayo with air. Smaller tengu appear in the first SNES games as enemies, often circling Sayo/Pocky before throwing wind gusts at her.
    • In the second SNES game, Tengy is a friendly tengu who will join Sayo/Pocky in rescuing Princess Luna and appears to be based on those seen in the previous game. He can fly over pits and throw leaf fans that will somewhat home in on enemies.
    • The first boss of Kiki Kai Kai Advance is "Crow Tengu". He wields a staff instead of leaf fans.
  • Time Stands Still: The blue orbs in the arcade game freeze all enemies when used.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Black Mantle from Pocky & Rocky and Orochi from Pocky & Rocky with Becky are considerably more sinister and intimidating than the other villains in the franchise who either have goofy moments or some sympathetic traits.
  • Whip It Good: The fifth boss is a prayer bead monk turned to evil; he actually uses his prayer beads like a whip and can hit you from the other side of the screen.
  • Youkai: By the metric ton!
  • Zigzag Paper Tassel: Sayo/Pocky uses an ōnusa as a weapon. She also makes a point of waving it over the shrine before she leaves at the start of the game.

Alternative Title(s): Pocky And Rocky


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