Review by Psycho Penguin
"Almost as fun as throwing a box at a mechanical dog. Oh, wait..."
We all grew up with those childhood cartoons we couldn't bear to be without for more than a day. Rescue Rangers was one of the shows that I didn't watch religiously, but I really enjoyed the lovable antics of Chip and Dale. They got into all sorts of crazy situations, and geniuenly became one of my favorite television shows out there. When I found out a video game was realized for it, I had to get it. I picked it up, took it home, and was thoroughly impressed with the gameplay and great graphics. It did have some flaws, however, that prevented it from getting an even higher score.
The storyline is actually a little better than expected. I was almost positive it was going to be about a girl that the Rescue Rangers have fallen in love with that was going to be kidnapped. But, I was wrong! Their neighbor's KITTEN has been stolen, and now the Rescue Rangers are.. uh, rangers to the rescue, and they're going to help poor old Mandy reunite with her poor innocent cat before Fat Cat, uh, eats the cat, or does whatever he wants to do with it. Not the best of storylines, of course, but what are you going to do?
How about you just admire the graphics instead? Because they are mighty impressive for one of those NES games that came out when I was like 6. The backgrounds are pretty creative and unique. At least every stage had its own background and wasn't repeated every few stages like in a bunch of other platformers. The enemy designs were pretty unique, although some of them seemed kind of out of place for a Disney game and the level they were featured in. Chip and Dale were SMALL in this one, which could be a good thing, as you don't expect a couple of Chipmunks to be carrying axes the size of palm trees and crushing boxes with their bare fists.
I was going to crush a box with my bare fist if Capcom didn't include the theme song to the show. Fortunately for any boxes in my general area, the song was replicated about as perfectly as I could expect. Next to Duck Tales, Rescue Rangers had my favorite TV show theme song growing up, and I always get good memories whenever I hear the song. A nice variety of songs accompany the theme song, and each song is pretty well done. Of course, you get the childish themes that are to be expected, but from the time you hear the fast paced, energetic opening stage song to the dark melodies of the last stage, you will be impressed. The sound effects aren't exactly the best you'll hear, but they get the job done.
Speaking of getting the job done, the controls are pretty well done, but they suffer from the Ninja Gaiden flaw. Enemies will knock you into pits sometimes. This is fine, if the enemies were SUPPOSED to knock you into the pits. They just dart at you and knock you like five feet backwards sometimes. It's insane, and really the only faul I found with the otherwise fine controls. Jumping is a breeze, and picking up boxes is a cinch. You can walk around with boxes on your head, like Mario can pick up vegetables. However, the Rescue Rangers are small dudes, and therefore they will not be able to function as speedily as they would normally.
And they sure will need all the speed they can get, as their adventure takes them through a series of well designed levels. I really appreciated the unique stage designs and gameplay Capcom featured in all of their Disney games, and this game was certainly no exception. You get to go everywhere from a factory yo the treetops in this one, and the game is long, therefore featuring a bunch of stages. Plus, the stages sometimes take you to several different areas. The enemies react well to you, and actually provide some sort of challenge on occasion. The stages were simply well designed, and this is important for a platforming game.
Another important thing for platforming games is the ability to, you know, make platform jumps, and Rescue Rangers has the fair share of those. In addition to these platform jumps, you get the unique gameplay of needing to find ways to destroy enemies. Instead of shooting them with a gun or jumping on them, Chip and Dale need to survey their surroundings to find things to throw at the enemies. Boxes usually do the trick, but sometimes you can use apples or corks. I really loved this aspect of the game, as well, because it made it a tad more unique: you could only hold one box at a time, and if you had two enemies to kill, you could be in trouble. Plus, it's just more fun to have to find things to haul at enemies instead of just shooting them. It's the little things that sometimes make games good.
Another little thing Capcom decided to implement was the addition of items to collect. You will notice fairly early on that there are lots of flower icons present in the stages. Collecting enough of these bestows an extra life upon you. The thing I liked most here was that they were so well placed. Some hover over empty holes, and some are so well placed that you can only get to them once. In addition to all these innovations, the game maintains a certain feel to it that I really appreciated. The game has a wide variety of bosses, enemies, and items to collect, and the unique bonus stages were also a blast.
Speaking of blast, you get to blast off at the end of the first stage with a unique feature Capcom included. Instead of just going from one stage to the next, you had the option of choosing the path you wanted to go, and therefore each play-through will usually feature a different set order of levels for you to complete. This was another terrific idea on Capcom's part, as it made the game seem less boring, and also added replay value, as you can't complete ALL the stages in one playthrough, and if you want to see and play through all the stages, there's only one thing you can do....
That's why Rescue Rangers has a relatively high amount of replay value. The game is really fun, sure, but so were a lot of other games on NES. The stages were long and fun, and sometimes tested your brain, and the game just had a lot of great qualities to it. But, this one has the unique ability to let you go through the stages in any order you wish. Sure, it's happened in other games (Mega Man, Bionic Commando, and Disney Adventures in Magic Kingdom come to mind), but it's a rarity, and any time the developer includes a feature like this, I am a happy man.
Sadly, a feature Capcom forgot to put in this game is the feature known as ''difficulty''. This is one of the easiest games on the NES, and it's the only thing that really prevents the game from getting a 10. Enemies are well placed, but you'll never really feel threatened by them, and the jumps are pretty easy to make. Most of the challenging parts of the game come from having to use your brain: things like walking across reappearing apples happen in so many other games, it's hard to feel challenged by it.
Other than the disappointing challenge of the game, this is one hell of an incredible blast to the past. I almost feel obligated to give it a 10, but I can't. The game is much too easy for me to allow it. But, everything else is right on target. Rescue Rangers is a fun game with long and varying stages, fun bosses, and a unique premise to it. Capcom really struck gold with all of their Disney games on NES. Those looking for a unique blend of platforming action and item collecting could do far worse than this incredibly fast-paced and high-energy title.
And you get to hear the theme song at the beginning. If that doesn't make it worth a purchase, I don't know what does.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 06/27/03, Updated 06/27/03
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