Review by Achilles Heel
"Or, Mouse Mouse Rocket!"
Chu Chu Rocket! was originally a Dreamcast game; there it met with marginal success (like the console itself, unfortunately), and now it’s on Game Boy Advance. When I heard that it was coming to GBA, I was very happy; I’d been planning on buying it for my DC pretty soon, but now I could hold off and get it for my spanking new GBA and be able to use it on a road trip. Being a Sega title, I knew I could expect trademark “oddness” (which is good!) and superbly deep gameplay. And that’s exactly what I got.
The Chus (space mice) lived happily in their spaceport. That is, until one day, the evil KapuKapus (space cats) invaded and began eating all the Chus! Now, the Chus must escape into their rockets and evade the KapuKapus. This isn’t exactly a stellar plot; however, you must remember that this is a puzzle game. Many of the best puzzlers, such as Tetris and Bust a Move, never had even bits of story. Chu Chu’s even admittedly barebone plot is great! So, in that respect, Chu Chu’s plot is excellent. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s excellently fruity and “different”.
It’s your job as the captain of the space rocket to guide the Chus to your rocket and safety, utilizing arrow pads on the ground you place. If a Chu runs into an arrow pad, it’ll go in the direction the pad is pointing. However, you’ll have to watch out for the KapuKapus, the evil space cats: if one enters your rocket, they eat portions of your mice, and they’ll also swallow up any Chu’s they run across.
The beauty of Chu Chu is that it’s so simple, yet fun; all the great puzzle games never get very complicated, but they end up being the most addictive. Chu Chu is easily picked up for a quick game, intending to play for five minutes, but you might find yourself playing for an hour or more by the time you look up! I can’t stress enough how simply addictive this game is.
Modes of Play: 10/10
The main mode of play that you’ll find yourself playing the most is the four-player battle mode; this is Chu Chu in its most simple element. You compete against three other players for the mice constantly streaming out of the generators, while directing cats towards their rockets. Also, occasionally special mice come out of a generator, triggering a special event, such as Mice Mania, where mice come out much more quickly than usual, Blindfold the Winner, in which the winner cannot see anything, and Speed Up, where everything goes super-fast. Four-player battle mode is especially fun when playing against others; if you know someone else with a GBA, force them to play you! Also, you can play a cooperative game, which might be best for those of you with friends who occasionally get a bit… Angry when they lose. Multiplayer with real people is made a bit easier because Chu Chu is one of those one-pak link games: only one game is needed for everyone to play!
Stage Challenge mode is a great addition: in a real time game, it’s up to you to complete an objective in a certain amount of time. One of my favorites is “Cat Soccer”. In this, you have to direct the KapuKapus to your opponent’s goal while making sure your own is defended. I also like “Feed the Cat” to indulge my evil side. Your goal here is to not save the mice, but to feed them to the KapuKapu! This is deliciously fun. MWAHAHAHA!! Erm… Right. Anyway, Stage Challenge is great amusement.
The favorite mode of perverts everywhere is character creation. Yes, you yourself can make the Chus and KapuKapus look like whatever your heart desires. Personally, I made mine look like screwed-up anime monsters. Unfortunately, I know that many of y’all are going to make them look like less, um, proper items. You nuts.
Going right along with character creation is stage creation mode. You can create a stage for your friends to solve. Of course, I’m sure that most of the time, since the GBA doesn’t boast an internet connection, you won’t be able to find anyone to actually play your creations, but that’s okay..
Finally, there is puzzle mode, the big grand-daddy of all the modes. In puzzle mode, your job is to set down panels to send all the Chus to the rocket. However, this isn’t real time like Stage Challenge, and you must set all the panels down before the game starts, so it becomes mostly trial and error. Also, there are over 2500 puzzles here! That’s a heck of a lot of gameplay, eh? Most of those are user-created, too, so you can count on them to all seem fresh and different. Awesome!
On the Dreamcast, the four face buttons acted as a digital pad (Y, the top button, acted as the “Up” panel dropper, A, the bottom button, acted as the “Down” panel dropper, ect.), like in Smash TV or Bangai-O. Unfortunately, there are only two face buttons on the Game Boy Advance. The control figurations that remain are much more difficult to use than that on Dreamcast. It’s really not that bad once you get used to it, but it’s quite difficult to get adapted to this new scheme.
The game as itself is quite difficult; the computer is very smart no matter what level of difficulty it’s set on. Also, the Stage Challenge levels are hard. The puzzles are evil, too: many of them require that you walk away for a day or so to get refreshed and then come back. Fortunately, though, most of them are available to be taken on in any order. Finally, the odd control configurations take quite a while to get used to.
It looks nice and colorful, and the Chus and KapuKapus are rendered in 3D. It’s very pleasing to the eyes. Also, once you’ve made your own characters, you can change how it looks! The graphics don’t exactly push the GBA to its limits, but it’s better than something like Super Mario Advance’s completely uninspired stuff.
The music is simple, nice, and happy (like Chu Chu itself!). This is the perfect match for a puzzle game; you’d really rather have upbeat music than gloomy stuff in this sort of game, wouldn’t you? A few of the songs are still stuck in my head while I write this; simple but catchy. The sound effects are absolutely average. There aren’t any voiceovers; nothing like that is here. Unfortunately, the only effects featured are a few yells, bleeps, and boops.
The multiplayer is absolutely addictive. I still find myself pulling it out to play, about two months after Chu Chu’s release. The character design lets me exult my creative desires, and is worth for a few good hours, as is the level creation. The Stage Challenge is pretty darned hard, and will require a goodly amount of time to complete. And the Puzzle mode? I sincerely doubt that anyone will complete this. With most puzzles taking five or more minutes, and there being around 2500 puzzles, that’s 12500 minutes or around 208 hours, at the very least! Anyone with the mettle to beat that gets my applause and admiration!
Chu Chu Rocket is exactly the sort of game I hope to see on Game Boy Advance in the future. This is the perfect game for a road trip or the ride to work, being so long and yet easy to play for just a few minutes bursts, and the exact thing that should be on a portable. If you’re going on a trip, I can’t stress enough that this is what you need to buy. Chu Chu is the second best launch game for the GBA, right behind Castlevania.
- VERY long
- Excellent, simple gameplay
- Sheer breadth of modes
- Difficult controls
- Not-so-good sound effects
Overall Score: 9/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 08/05/01, Updated 11/08/01
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