Game Reviews

ChuChu Rocket!

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| ChuChu Rocket!
ChuChu Rocket!
| ChuChu Rocket!

Like a space shuttle with a few launches chronicled in its flight history, ChuChu Rocket! comes to iPhone and iPod touch a seasoned release.

Rather than showing wear and tear, this unique puzzle game is an old gem that flies just as far and fast as ever before.

Tons of levels across two modes joined by multiplayer make ChuChu Rocket! a great iPhone and iPod touch diversion, yet alternative control options and online play are sadly missing from this nicely remastered game.

A game of cat and mouse

Using arrow panels, the objective is to direct adorable little mice called ChuChus into rockets that send them into orbit. Hungry feline KapuKapus are eager to munch on your rodent pals, which makes it your job to keep ChuChus safe as they scurry toward a rocket.

In Puzzle mode, you're afforded infinite time to place a predetermined set of arrow panels in just the right formation. A whopping 100 levels guarantees hours of gameplay, not accounting for an increase in difficulty that is sure to tax your skills as you attempt the tough special and mania stages.

Challenge mode extends the single-player experience further, with real-time action stages that require completing specified tasks under pressure of time.

These range from guiding every last ChuChu into a rocket to overloading the computer's rockets with KapuKapus. They're wonderfully varied and nice break from the contemplative pace of Puzzle mode.

Missed opportunity

Multiplayer rockets the game's replay value upwards, allowing you and three acquaintances to connect via local wi-fi or Bluetooth on iPhone and iPod touch.

Split-screen play is supported on iPad. Two game types - 4P Battle and Team Battle - cover the co-operative and competitive bases. It's worth noting that bots are supported, making it possible to play multiplayer games against the computer.

The decision to forgo online play is a curious one, particularly given integration with Game Center for leaderboards and achievements. Apple's social gaming network offers matchmaking tools for online multiplayer, and SEGA is missing an easy opportunity.

Level editing and sharing could have been offered as a consolation for the lack of online play, but that's missing as well.

Tom and Jerry-rigging

Equally odd is the lack of control options. ChuChu Rocket! offers only one default control scheme that has you swiping the screen to lay down arrow panels.

It's a moderately effective setup - one that works better on iPad than iPhone and iPod touch given the screen size - though alternative configurations could work as well, if not better.

Arrow tiles listed on the left side of the screen could easily be dragged into place or tapped into play. These may not suit your individual taste, yet there's no harm in including these as options. That's the point of having options: to provide a choice rather than forcing adherence to the default controls.

Such oversights are disappointing because ChuChu Rocket! is so enjoyable. With online multiplayer and expanded options, it could effortlessly have matched the original Dreamcast release. Instead, it's caught in the trap of paring down features for portable play, resulting in a port that's good but not great.

ChuChu Rocket!

ChuChu Rocket! fuels fun with challenging puzzle play, despite the absence of online multiplayer and control options