There's real promise behind Pocky & Rocky with Becky, far more than the unimaginative title might suggest. Bite-size levels quickly give way to intriguing boss battles, and speedy pacing helps hold your interest throughout the campaign. However, these positive aspects quickly fade in the face of bland enemies, repetitive level design, and what largely feels like an unfinished game.
PRB certainly portrays its Japanese origins clearly. The music, environments, and enemies all have a Japanese feel to them, and this style adds a nice element of character to the experience. The dialogue is comically brief and seemingly suffers from poor translation – though if that isn't the case, then the writers are hilarious – but even that works only so long as you're prepared to take it for what it is. These qualities would have been enjoyable if the game was more fleshed out, but unfortunately it feels like just a shadow of what it could have been.
Each level consists of a roughly five minute burst of gameplay followed by a boss battle, all with the top-down viewpoint made famous by the original Legend of Zelda. There's actually a nice rhythm behind this format; routinely fighting bosses adds a welcome touch of uniqueness to the otherwise standard formula. However, the trek to the boss is bogged down by tedious combat. It's as if PRB punishes you for stopping to methodically learn how to fight enemies, as they quickly overwhelm you; instead, the best approach is to simply continually push forward while spamming attacks throughout a level, which makes for a lackluster experience.
You are allowed to choose from one of three characters: Pocky, Rocky, or Becky. Each largely uses the exact same methods of attack, save for one of three single weapon modifications that you can find and use throughout each stage. As you will often use other mods instead of that single unique modifier you rarely use the special weapon, which is a missed opportunity that deals an unnecessary blow to the prospect of replayability.
All three characters have a fan whip that wipes away some of the characters on the screen, along with a mid-range projectile attack. Some enemies only respond to one attack or the other and it's not clear which enemies are immune to which attack, so it's common to mistakenly die after using the wrong attack on an enemy. You're only given two hits per life, so there's little in the way of forgiveness.
As previously mentioned, at the end of each stage you face off against a boss. These bosses feature captivating names such as "Giant Spider" and "Smart Boy," but despite their uninventive titles they provide the most interesting encounters in the game. They are fairly simple but feature novel attack patterns in comparison to typical enemies, and because you only have two hits to work with you'll be tasked with studying and adapting to each boss. This is a welcome respite from the unwavering march forward used for the core of each level.
PRB is a decent looking game considering its origins on the GBA; especially worthy of note are the large boss sprites. The music is fitting for the style of the game but quickly becomes repetitive along with the gameplay. You need to find a key to unlock the boss room, but apart from that it's a linear experience with a straight shot from start to finish. A trek whose duration, mind you, which will not come close to challenging the battery of your Wii U GamePad. Short length and uninspired design are big issues in this game.
PRB comes close to being interesting and entertaining, but ultimately it falls short. You are given a code for a higher difficulty mode once you beat the campaign, but it's hard to find the motivation to pick it back up again. Welcome innovations like frequent boss battles and humorous bits of dialogue can't save what is, ultimately, a mediocre game. It's hard to recommend PRB to anyone but the biggest fans of this genre.