By: Jared Black
thunk it? Sega, the long-time arch-nemesis of Nintendo during the
16-bit era, is now developing for Nintendoís brand new Game Boy
Advance. Fortunately for handheld gamers everywhere, itís not just
token supportÖSega have already announced three GBA games, with
the promise of more to come (including many classic Genesis titles
that once went toe-to-toe with the SNES). Even as Iím writing
this, it just seemsÖweird.
Out of the three
titles Sega have lined up (Chu Chu Rocket, Sonic and Puyo
Puyo) for the Game Boy Advance, none intrigues me more than Segaís
little puzzler ChuChu Rocket!. Originally released on the
Sega Dreamcast way back in early 2000, ChuChu served as a testing
ground for the Dreamcastís online network. Although the online
play was somewhat buggy, it nevertheless proved that online gaming
could be successfully done on a console system. Fortunately, ChuChuís
online heritage lends it perfectly to GBA multiplayer via the link
cable, but Iíll touch on that more in a bit.
gameplay can be best summed up with a simple equation:
+ Mouse Trap + Chaos = Multiplayer Gaming Goodness
Thatís not to
say that ChuChu Rocket! isnít great as a single-player game
though, because it definitely is. Basically, gameplay takes place on
a checkerboard. Your job is simple: lead as many mice (ChuChus) into
your rocket as possible. In order to do this, you have to make sure
the cats patrolling each level donít get to them and eat Ďem up.
Aiding you in this quest, you can place up to three different arrows
on the playing board at once that will redirect any creature that
for you, the ChuChus arenít completely safe once they reach your
rocket. If a cat happens to get into your rocket, a lot of innocent
mice are going to die. The result is a frantic gameplay experience,
in which you must constantly keep track of each ChuChu on screen,
cat on screen, and each catís relation to your rocket.
As chaotic as it
is in single-player though, itís 100 times that once you enter
multiplayer mode. Not only are you then competing with other players
to collect as many mice as possible, but you also have to worry
about other players directing the cats into your own rocket and
killing off your collected ChuChus. Thus, gameplay becomes an
extremely strategic affair, as youíll have to decide which is the
best strategy to implement in each scenario. Amazingly enough,
despite the sheer amount of action going on at once, the multiplayer
mode will only require one person to own the game.
The gameplay is
simplistic and yet challenging, but what really sets this game apart
is the sheer number of levels available. The GBA version of ChuChu
Rocket! will contain an amazing 2,500 different levels, all
created by Dreamcast owners. Those are in addition to the other
levels already provided by Sega. The GBA will also allow you to
create your own levels, and a graphic editor will allow you to do
some rudimentary changes to the in-game graphics. In short, itís
every puzzle fanís dream.
also look nice. While not quite on par with the Dreamcast version
(ex: sprite characters instead of polygonal), the GBA version still
bears a pretty striking resemblance to its DC cousin. Puzzle games
generally are simplistic in the graphics department anyway, but itís
still amazing to see how accurately the DCís graphics have been
mimicked on the GBA.
Whether you have
friends to play with or not, ChuChu Rocket! is shaping up to
be one of the very best GBA launch titles. Hopefully this is just
the first game of a long and profitable Sega/Nintendo alliance.