Review by PIW

"Fun at First, but gets stale all too quickly"

Chu Chu Rocket first debuted on the Dreamcast a couple of years ago. Sega gave away free copies to anyone who signed up for one on the online Dreamarena. Chu Chu Rocket was one of the first games that could go online on Dreamcast. This gave the GBA version an immediate disadvantage. Without the Internet, I never really liked Chu Chu Rocket much, but playing online was fun, and so I played it, and gradually got hooked on the offline modes as well. When I played Chu Chu GBA, I was expecting something great.

This was my first mistake. Although Chu Chu Rocket does have some of the longevity that can't quite be said for other games, after a while you'll get bored of it. But first, I'll talk about some of the good things about the game. Chu Chu Rocket is an addictive puzzle game, in which you have to guide mice (Chu Chus) to a rocket, and drive cats (Kapu Kapus) away from them, before they eat the mice. It's a simplistic game, but it is pulled off very well. Playing solo meant you could do either Open Games, Stage Challenges or Puzzles. The first two were motion games, i.e. you had to do everything ASAP. The fact that you could only have 3 tiles down at once meant for some frantic action.

Open Game was basically you, and up to three opponents (cpu) in a battle to get the most Chu Chus in the time, or get a certain number. Once you won, your rocket blasted off, and that was that. Stage Challenges were slightly different in that you had to guide your Chu Chus, who were on the move, to the spaceship within a time limit. The problems were obstacles, Kapu Kapus and holes. The idea was that you had to get EVERY one of you Chu Chus into the rocket, or else you failed. Once you failed, that was it, and you had to start again. It is a challenging mode, and requires some pre-match planning, as well as a quick mind, and quicker fingers. Puzzle is where your Chu Chus are stationary, and you have a pre-set number of tiles (including which tiles, U, D, R, L) and you had to place them and get your Chu Chus to the rocket once you'd placed all the tiles. Puzzle mode is catchy, especially for someone who can't think as well under pressure, and is forced into quick decisions. Some of the harder puzzles really engage your brain, and you'll get lots of satisfaction for completing that final stage.

The graphics of Chu Chu Rocket are good. Stunningly good. I almost believed that I was playing the Dreamcast version. I don't mean to sound as if I'm just giving the game the best that I can, but the graphics are extremely good, especially considering the technological limitations of the Gameboy Advance. There is no noticeable slowdown in the game, even when you have 100s of Chu Chus all running around on the screen. The music is catchy and infectuous, and, from time to time, it will drive you mad, coupled with a Kapu Kapu getting into your spaceship.

However, while all of the above is good, then comes the bad. It won't take too long before the game becomes stale. Puzzle mode won't last forever, Stage Challenges run out, and Puzzle Creator won't be any good, as you've created the puzzles, therefore you can solve them. Open Games will keep your interest high for that little bit longer, but it's not enough to hold onto you forever. Trying to design your own Chu Chu or Kapu Kapu is frustrating, although cool, because it's difficult to make it look 3-D, and so you get diseased Chu Chus running around, which annoys. Possibly the only thing that could have saved this game is the multiplayer. Four way matches with friends in almost any game usually spells 'Fun Fun Fun!'. However, this time, no. Due to the high cost of the link cables, as well as the fact that noone else seems to have bought it, I haven't ever found anyone who doesn't own a copy of this game. Therefore, with multiplayer inaccessible, I haven't had much joy from this game, and now it lies, with a pile of other games, in the 'Used' pile, unlikely to be picked up again.

There are some nice spots in the game, but they are too few, and too far between.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/28/03, Updated 05/09/03

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