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by Sega

4P_NIG~1.jpg (5926 bytes)Puzzle games and handhelds go together like peanut butter and jam. It was no accident that the original Game Boy shipped with Tetris instead of a Mario knockoff. There is just something about handhelds that lend themselves to puzzle games. Maybe it’s the promise of endless replay value that makes puzzle games so appealing. No game will ever be the same. If you have a good puzzle game, you really don’t need to have another game for your system. Who can say that about Super Mario? Maybe it’s the false sense of a quick game. Puzzle games seem to promise brief amusements that sharply contrast the epic portions of time necessary to complete a Zelda or Mario. This of course is a lie. I have dedicated more time to those falling Russian blocks than to any other game I have played. It’s the simplicity that grounds me and keeps me playing until all hours of the night.

STEDIT~1.jpg (9870 bytes)When Chu Chu Rocket was first released for the Dreamcast, I avoided it like the plague. I was working on a Master’s degree and I knew that I couldn’t afford the hours it would suck away from my life. Well, I’ve completed my Master’s, and it was with a certain sense of abandon that I plopped Chu Chu Rocket Advance into my Game Boy Advance. Now, I find myself wondering where all the time has gone.

4P_BLI~1.jpg (10163 bytes)Like all great puzzle games, the story is so simplistic that you really can’t call it a story. Your goal is to steer the space mice with directional arrows into your rocket while steering the space cats towards the rockets of your competitors with the same directional arrows. There are mystery mice that can throw a wrench into carefully plotted maps. Chu Chu Rocket Advance has dozens of levels to master and no game ever plays the same way twice. The graphics won’t win any awards, but they certainly get the job done. There is a lot going on on the screen at any given moment and I don’t notice any slow down (except, of course, when a mystery mouse makes that game slow down).

4P_CAT~2.jpg (10558 bytes)On top of the regular gameplay, there is a multi-player link for up to four players off one cartridge. I really enjoy the puzzle mode of play also, where you’re given limited resources to steer your mice away from the cats and into the space ships. It’s a refreshing break from the frantic pace of regular play. Some of these will have you scratching you head for hours. There are 2500 puzzles to play through in this game. I honestly don’t anticipate finishing this in my life. There is a time trial trial mode and a level design mode. Not only do you get to design your own levels, but you also can design your own characters and their animations. It’s an incredibly tedious process, but it gives you one more reason to get this game.

4P_CHU~1.jpg (11046 bytes)I also have to mention how much I enjoyed the sense of design and humor that comes across in the menus and manual. It just screams light and fun without being too cute. I found myself smiling as I leafed through the manual at its cleverness and aesthetic presentation. It just looks cool. I seriously want a t-shirt with Chu Chus and rockets. There aren’t too many games out there that I would show off on a t-shirt.

4P_STE~1.jpg (11057 bytes)In this age of amazing graphics capabilities, it’s a wonder that people are still making puzzle games. They just seem so eighties. I’m glad that there are a few publishing houses out there who still see the need to create puzzle games that aren’t Tetris. Chu Chu Rocket is everything a puzzle game should be and so much more. If you need a break from endless variations of Tetris, I highly recommend you give this a shot. At nearly forty dollars, it may seem a little pricey, but I guarantee that you will not get more mileage out of your gaming dollar from any other Game Boy Advance title. I promise, you will still be playing this game three system generations from now.

Jason Frank   (07/31/2001)

Snapshot

Ups: Incredibly addictive; thousands of puzzle levels; infinite replayability; 4-player multiplayer from one cart; lots of options and modes.

Downs: Did we mention it's incredibly addictive?

Platform:
Game Boy Advance

 


1995-2001
GamesFirst! Magazine