Developer: Sonic Team | Publisher: Sega | Release Date: 2001 | Genre: Puzzle | Website: n/a | Purchase: Amazon
Anyone that owned the short lived Dreamcast console will be familiar with ChuChu Rocket. This charming little puzzle game was originally given away free with the Sega console to show off its online capabilities. The best part of the original was the frantic multi-player matches which have been faithfully recreated on the GBA hardware but there are some nice, meaty single player modes to enjoy as well.
The idea behind ChuChu Rocket is very simple, you have your space mice called ChuChus who have to make it safely to their rockets without some nasty space cats getting their paws on them. However, the mice are not very bright, which is where you fit into the picture. Without your intervention, they will simply walk in a straight line turn right at corners and reverse once they hit a dead end. You can alter their paths by placing arrow blocks on the ground. The trick is placing these blocks in such a way that your mice end up in their rockets & not the bellies of the cats roaming around on their present paths.
In the frantic multi-player mode, which can be played against up to three other players with a single cart, you can place your direction blocks on the fly to divert the mice into your rockets & away from your opponents. Sometimes wild card mice will appear which can cause all kinds of positive or negative things to happen. Most of the fun in this mode comes from screwing over your opponents & directing cats into their rockets. In single player mode you can try the challenge levels which give you 30 seconds to get all the mice into your rockets. Puzzle mode on the other hand gives you a limited amount of direction tiles to place & these cannot be altered on the fly. The game includes all the puzzles found on the original Dreamcast title along with over 2000 other creative levels. If this is still not enough you can create your own levels with the built in editor. You can even create your own characters with the pixel art editor.
With its bright colorful visuals & cheerful music ChuChu Rocket is a perfect fit for the GBA. The controls take some time to master so there is a bit of a learning curve initially. To get the most out of the game you will need some friends & link cables but there is enough content to make it worthwhile for the single player mode as well.
If you have already played the game to death on the Dreamcast there might not be much her to entice you back for more. If you missed out on it this is the perfect opportunity for you to do so now. The visuals are very basic which might put some people off but there is actually very little to fault about this release. The gameplay works well as a portable title & it is simple enough that you can get playing instantly.
*Review originally published in 2001.