My Gaming ABC's : C is for Chu Chu Rocket
The Dreamcast... How amazing was this thing? So many strong sides to it: the graphics, the speed, the design, the controller, etc. It had a solid library to boot. A console full of classics and well deserving of some attention in this series. So, we’ll talk about Chu-Chu Rocket. How’s that for a mood killer? My other choice was Captain Skyhawk so you better be thankful.
Don’t worry, I won’t have too many obscure titles coming up. Next week’s choice will be critically acclaimed. (*wink wink* hint) Although, I’m pretty sure Chu Chu Rocket was a well received game. If not, I’ll have to consider it overlooked. Why? Because Chu Chu Rocket is one of the best puzzle games in existence, and I really hope people don’t doubt that. Sonic Team hit us with variety, precision, charm and most of all, a clever well-elaborated concept.
Chu Chu Rocket was an early title for the Dreamcast and somewhat of a technical demo for its online capabilities. Even though the game was marketed more as an online and multiplayer game, it features multiple modes. The game comprises of 75 puzzles, 25 challenges and a large number of multiplayer and team multiplayer maps. The general goal of the game is to get the mice into the rockets and allow them to escape the planet of the cats. In the meantime, you avoid the cats. On the grid-like maps, the mice move following the arrows you put on the floor. Puzzle mode challenges you to bring all mice to the rockets with a limited number of arrow panels while the cooperative challenge mode gives you unlimited panels, but a precise objective and time limit. The multiplayer mode fires an endless wave of mice and cats letting all players fight to save the most rodents. At semi-random interval, a slot machine is activated giving way to various handicaps such as speed variations, constant cat/mice flow and inversion of positions. Did I mention you also had a level editor? Probably not since this is a text and it would seem stupid to repeat myself so blatantly! Anyway, the level editor allows you to share your created puzzle stages with the Sega online community. Pretty avant-garde, right?
The game plays like a cross of Pipe Dream, Bomberman and Lemmings, the multiplayer adding in Hungry Hungry Hippos. Nonetheless, the game really has a unique style and gameplay. The controls are spot on as a single arrow appears pointing to the direction of the button pressed. (ex. A button puts a down arrow on the field) The wonderfully fluid analog stick moves your pointer around as you avoid rampaging cats and other hazards. The level designs are colorful and clever ranging from huge mazes to grids based on characters, logos, etc. Chu Chu Rocket is one of these games I’d want children and casual gamers to play. I do acknowledge that some mobile games are good and even great, but Chu Chu Rocket has that same kind of simple, charming, challenging gameplay. With its numerous modes, it has a lot more value than yet another tower defense game. When you have more time on your hands, you can try to go through the puzzle mode. When you’re not in a public place, you can frantically move around the screen to complete your challenge mode. Like Scribblenauts, Tetris, Fez, Professor Layton, Patapon, Boom Blox, Koropina: Marble Mania, etc. Sonic Team created a game that SHOULD bridge the gap between casual gamers and the regular gaming crowd. Like the others, however, it fails to do so. Oh wait... the game does exist on Android and the App store.
As mentioned, the game featured an online mode even though it was lackluster. However, it does show one of the many firsts the Dreamcast brought to the industry. Unfortunately, I didn’t try it, but I’ll take the opportunity to say I did try Phantasy Star Online... online... (ugh... no way around that repetition) and the gameplay was pretty seamless for the time. As an early and fairly popular Dreamcast title, most of the characters were good choices to be used for various cameos in other SEGA or Sonic titles including Sonic All-Star Racing.
All in all, Chu Chu Rocket is the game that convinced me to get a Dreamcast when retro hunting. Of course, Phantasy Star Online, Sonic Adventure and Skies of Arcadia only sweetened the deal. If you’re a game collector, the Dreamcast can’t be missed. If you are interested in the game, there’s also a Game Boy Advance port. If you own a Dreamcast but don’t have this game, shame on you.
I hope you enjoyed this short one. Next time, I will also try to capture gameplay videos myself. Don’t forget you can try and guess the next games I’ll talk about. Around February 15 will be the letter “D” and let’s just say I have something special planned. Before then I’ll post an official contest rules and description of prize. For now, I’ll just remind you that it’s one guess per person and that every correct answer will be eligible for a raffle at the end of the year. Another benefit of participating? I’ll briefly present my views on some guesses. Especially when the blog is as short as this one.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day is one of those games I need to play, but I don’t have it. As you know, it's pretty expensive, but it’s a game I can’t bring myself to play in any other way. I’ll get it eventually and I’ll let you guys know about it. The suspense is killing me though as this game looks hilariously entertaining.
I might’ve chosen this game if it wasn’t for my recent review of it. I said pretty much all I could say about this game. It expands the story of FFVII so well and helps us understand some often criticized characters. It also portrays the best protagonist in the Final Fantasy Series. If you’re a fan of FFVII, you need to play this game.
My official second choice, but I would’ve had a similar speech than last time. Captain Skyhawk is a nostalgia filled game for me and even though it’s not really the most original game on the NES, it was a game I had a lot of fun with as a kid and still now.
See you in two weeks! Until then, happy gaming folks!