Review by munkay

"Cats, mice, rockets and arrows. Crazy. Essential."

To save time: just go and buy ChuChu Rocket. If you like puzzle games or plain all-out crazy multiplayer games, this is an essential. Hell, if you like games, this is an essential.

Anyway. What we have here is a game about a race of Space Mice, called ChuChu. Their space station has been invaded by Space Cats (KapuKapu), and they want to get to the rockets so they can escape. Your job is to put arrows down to guide the mice to the rockets, and the cats... somewhere else.

It's a puzzle game. There isn't a complex plot.

There's a huge amount of game to do, split over numerous solo and multiplayer game modes. So...

First up is Stage mode: a solo game. There are 25 boards, split into groups of five differrent objectives. You're challenged to catch mice, avoid cats, feed mice to cats, send cats to your opponent, etc. and do it all in the quickest possible time. It's fun, and it's hard.

Next up is puzzle mode, which contains (deep breath) 2600 boards. The first 100 are all official, Sonic Team designed. The other 2,500 (!) are user-created boards from the Dreamcast version of the game, from all round the world. As you can appreciate, there's a lot of puzzle mode to do. The quality of the boards can vary a lot (Due to their nature as user-created, of course), and there's some real dull ones, but that's made up for by some very, very good ones. Put simply, you won't get bored of puzzle mode easily.

To round things off for solo players, there's a create-a-level mode for Stage and Puzzle modes, and you can save 25 boards for each onto the cartridge. You can also create your own custom characters for use in the game, or use some of the special ones available.

Now for the multiplayer. Dreamcast ChuChu Rocket is well-known for being a nuts game when you've got four players around a DC and a TV, and the GBA version pulls it off neatly. You can play on any of the 24 included boards, or (You guessed it!) create your own. It's tricky to describe how much fun it is to play in multiplayer: you're trying to catch as many mice as you can, and send the cats to your opponents. To add to it, there's ''special'' mice, which give a random effect: they might move the player's rockets around, increase the mouse flow rate, add cats, etc. Suffice to say, yes, they are very hard-fought for. It's... insane. And very, very good fun.

If you've got friends with the game, then you can swap created boards and characters with them. Want everyone to use that ace new Sonic sprite you've made? Just send it over, and you can use it in the game!

Even if your friend's DON'T have copies, fear not. The single-pak multiplayer mode lets you play the COMPLETE multiplayer game, from one cartridge. No limits, whatsoever.

Lastly, if you don't have three friends with GBA's, then the computer will join in to make up the numbers. You can play multiplayer mode against the computer if you wish, or even watch a four-computer game.

And, if you don't understand any of it, there's a complete help system in there too, that's a version of the DC's homepage.

Now, on to mechanical parts of the review.

Gameplay- Incredible. It's very, very addictive. It's a little bit like Lemmings, and a lot like pure all-out five-star insanity. There's a huge amount of game to play. Control is possibly the only slight failing: due to the GBA's button layout, and the requirements to have Up/Down/Left/Right arrow placement, it can be tricky to remember which button is which, but if it is- there's three differrent controller settings, including an easy-peasy ''Press A and the direction'' option. It's one of the most entertaining games I have ever played.

Plot- Cats want to eat mice. Mice don't want to eat cats. This isn't Final Fantasy 7, but then again, you didn't buy a silly game like this for it's plot!

GFX/SFX- The graphics are good and clear, although it can be tricky sometimes to see gaps in the walls around a board, and you can sometimes lose track of where your cursor is in multiplayer games. The sound is OK, some of the tunes are cool. The special power-ups that you can get in multiplayer are all spoken by a Japanese girl. Mice squeek when you collect them. Nothing really earth-shattering, but what's there is nice.

Replayability- You will not get bored of this. You'll put it down for a while, and come back to solve a few more puzzles. Or a few quick multiplayer rounds. If you're on a journey, then this is a good game to get to play with friends. Alone, there's still a ton of stuff to do. Helped immensely by the fact that you can create your own boards to play, or to trade to friends to play. It's impossible to get bored of this game.

Buy / Rent?- You'll probably get it dirt cheap now: it didn't sell very well when it was released. If you can find it, buy it. Even if you've already got the DC version, there's so much more here over that.

To sum up, it'll never be spoken of with the Zelda's and Sonic's of this world, but ChuChu Rocket is, in it's elegant simplicity and huge FUN rating, more than worthy to stand beside them. This is a GREAT little game. Buy it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/24/02, Updated 06/24/02

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