Newest Review: ... human or AI of varying grades of difficulty) and you compete within the time limit to amass the most Chu inside your rocket. The first p... more
Pardon me boy...
Chu Chu Rocket (DC)
Member Name: shep
Chu Chu Rocket (DC)
Date: 15/01/01, updated on 15/01/01 (33 review reads)
Advantages: Unique multi-player puzzler
...Is that the cat that chewed your chu chus?
"In a far away time, on a far away planet, there is a space port... this space port is inhabited by thousands of little space mice (the Chu Chus). The chu chus lived a peaceful and happy existence, until one day a bunch of space cats (the KapuKapus) showed up... now the Chu Chus need to escape in rockets before being munched by the KapuKapu!"
"ChuChu Rocket" is a game for 4 players - these can be any combination of human beings (assuming you have 4 control pads to plug into your dreamcast), computer controlled opponents, or on-line opponents. Each player owns a rocket (positioned somewhere on the screen), and the object of the game is to persuade as many of the wandering Chu Chu's as you can to board your own rocket before the countdown expires. The player who gathers the most Chu Chus wins the round.
Like many of the all-time greats, the gameplay is very simple... There's a playing field consisting of a 12x9 grid of squares, split up by dividing walls. Chu Chus enter the game from specific "hatches" and wander around the grid in straight lines, turning 90 degrees whenever they hit a wall. By dropping "arrow" icons onto the grid, you cause the Chu Chus to change direction (hopefully towards your own rocket!). This would be a very simple procedure, were it not for several complicating factors - firstly, you can only have 3 arrows in play at a time, and they fade away after they've been on the grid for a short while. Secondly, all your opponents are all trying to achieve the same object, so will constantly interfere with your incoming ranks of Chu Chus.... and thirdly (and most importantly) there's also a number of "Kapu Kapus" (space cats) roaming the map - if you divert one of these into your rocket, then a third of your accumulated passengers will be eaten!
The action is really frantic - one minute you've got a stea
dy stream of Chu Chu marching just where you want them... seconds later one of your opponents has sneakily diverted them towards his own rocket... meanwhile somebody else has sent a Kapu Kapu marching towards you... it all seems sooo simple, but it's not very long before you realise just how devious you need to be to succeed, and get completely hooked on outwitting your opponents!
To add a bit of variety to the mix, there's a number of pink Chu Chus wandering around the grid - if you get one of those into your rocket, a random "spinner" appears with a new rule to affect gameplay - the Chu Chu speed might change... players might swap positions... the map might be cleared of existing arrows... the dreaded "cat attack" might occur... etc etc.
Presentation-wise, Chu Chu Rocket is a bit of an oddball... you could easily forget that you're playing the game on a state-of-the-art console, as the game is presented as a 2D overview, and has a distinctively "retro" look and feel about it. The thing is, it doesn't matter the slightest bit - the gameplay is fantastic, and the graphics are perfect for the job. Bizarrely, as you end each level, the camera pans out from the playfield, and the continuing action is suddenly rendered in very high quality 3d - but done in such an overtly "throwaway" fashion that you can't help thinking that the programmers intended it as a metaphorical "two fingers" to games companies who sacrifice content over style.... Nice!
Besides the regular game, there's a 1-player "puzzle" variant, which gives you a restricted number of tiles to complete set challenges with. This is nowhere near as much fun as the proper game (which can just as easily be played by a single player!) but might keep you amused on a wet Sunday afternoon. There's also a puzzle editor feature, should you feel inclined to invent your own.
As previously mentioned,
there's an option to play opponents on-line (in fact, "Chu Chu Rocket" claims a place in history for being the first ever on-line console game!) - there's also a "chat room" system built in for locating potential opponents, and other on-line features such as the ability to upload/download puzzle screens and alternative game graphics.
"Chu Chu Rocket" is often bundled free with new Dreamcast consoles, and for a while Sega Europe was giving away free copies to anybody who registered for their online gaming service. If you haven't had the good fortune to get a freebie, it's worth digging around the 2nd hand games stores, as there's so many copies of this game in circulation that the 2nd hand copies usually change hands for well under a tenner. At that kind of price, you'd be mad not to get hold of it!
In summary, this is a simple yet *thoroughly* addictive multi-player puzzle game... kind of a cross between "lemmings" and "pipemania", but much more frantic! Highly recommended!