RetroVision – Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill

As the US presidential race comes to an end so does the campaign to release the previously unreleased platformer Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill. Over on Kickstarter Thomas Curtin, the new owner of the IP, is trying to raise the sum of $30,000 dollars to get this game into the hands of consumers for the first time.

Originally intended to be released in the autumn of 1993, the game was cancelled after it’s publisher Kaneko shut down their US branch. This was despite reports that suggest the game was completed and reviewers had copies. In fact, if you were to trawl through the internet looking for a ROM image of this game, you wouldn’t find one as it has never been released.

Socks the Cat Box
An image of the original box art.

This has led to the game gaining notoriety as there is no way this game can be played, unless you have the only copy of the prototype sold before the studio shut down. That is until now.

The history of Socks’ foray into the world of video games has been as turbulent as his owner Hilary’s presidential campaign. The story all began when Kaneko purchased the licence to the character’s name from a fan club known as the ‘Presidential Socks Partnership’, who at the time were the rights holders. Following this they set to work on creating the game known as Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill.

Socks the Cat
The real Socks the Cat, the inspiration behind the game.

By the summer of 1993 Kaneko were ready to unveil their gameplay. However, at the same time, the game was delayed from its initial autumn release, to June 1994. What’s more, it was around this time that Kaneko shut the doors to its US branch, and thus development and production of the game ceased entirely.

However, despite production being ceased, a dispute arose over how complete the game was, and in turn whether it could be released. You see, some employees claim it was basically complete. Although, there were others who suggested it wasn’t anywhere near finished.

Socks the Cat Original ROM
The original prototype cartridge courtesy of Tom Curtin.

Interestingly though, despite the game never being released, the evidence does seem to support those who say the game was finished. You see, not only are are there reviews for the game out in the wild, but a prototype has also been made available.

In fact, this prototype was sold from a former Kaneko employee to Jason Wilson, a high profile video game collector. In 2011 he posted a blurry video to youtube that proved the existence but said he would not release the ROM as it would devalue his product. A year later he sold the cartridge to another video game collector, Tom Curtin, for “the same amount as a decent used car”.

Socks the Cat Kickstarter promotional banners
Promotional Banners for the new Socks the Cat Kickstarter campaign.

After purchasing the cartridge Tom Curtin then acquired the rights to the ‘Socks the Cat’ trademark in 2015. He then enlisted the help of studio Second Dimension to get the game to a state where it could be released. To fund this project he started a Kickstarter with the rewards including the likes of a digital version of the ROM, and an official cartridge release.

The Socks the Cat Kickstarter campaign is due to finish on the 8th of November 2016, the same day as the US presidential election, and is currently just short of it’s target. And whilst Socks the Cat is sadly no longer with us, if he was, then he’d surely not only be rooting for the campaign, but more importantly, he’d surely be hoping that his previous owners find their way back to The White House!

More information about the game:

Socks the Cat is based on the real life presidential pet of the Clinton’s during Bill Clinton’s 1993-2001 term. In the game Socks witnesses foreign spies stealing a nuclear launch unit and must reach the Clinton’s to alert them of the impending issues. Over the course of the game the feline hero run, jump and claw his way to overcome a number of obstacles including spies, politicians, journalists and the US secret service.

One of the most widely lauded elements of the game were the end bosses of each level. These satirical takes on famous political figures include caricatures of Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ross Perot. In addition to these Nixon calls in bomb raids and Ted Kennedy drives off bridges.

Stuart Drake

Not very good at writing about games and even worse at them. Is that going to stop me doing either? Absolutely not! You can follow this Pokémaniac on Twitter and Instagram via @Boogbn

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