Developer: SEGA
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 3G, iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The Dreamcast may have died, but its soul still burns. One of the Dreamcast’s most endearing games, and the progenitor of modern online console games, ChuChu Rocket, has been revived by Sega for iOS, preserving the original’s gameplay perfectly. ChuChu Rocket’s basic premise is that you lay down arrrows to guide mice into your rocket, and cats away from it. The main competitive game mode pits you against up to 3 other players in arenas of various layouts, trying to collect mice and avoid cats until the clock reaches zero. While you can play the Battle mode to your heart’s content against either real opponents via local or Game Center online modes, there is also the Puzzle mode, which tasks you with trying to get all the mice to the rocket using only a limited set of arrows, and Challenge mode, which gives you a task to be completed under a specific time limit.

This is Chu Chu Rocket faithfully represented on iOS, which alone should be a major selling point for fans of the Dreamcast original. Sega, Sonic Team, and Binary Hammer clearly took the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” axiom to heart with this game. Everything is almost exactly as it once was. The addictive gameplay is still here, and there is something great about sending a well-timed cat into a pesky opponent’s rocket to make a huge dent into their point totals. While the iPad doesn’t support the Game Center online multiplayer yet, it does support 4 players on one device, with four identical game boards displayed, each player having control over their arrows on one of the boards. As well, local multiplayer does work between iPhone and iPad versions of the game.

Unfortunately, the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” axiom may have been applied too well. The puzzle and challenge mode levels are largely identical to previous iterations of the game. In fact, probably the biggest difference with this version is that the 3D models have all been re-done for the game, as they are similar but not identical to their Dreamcast originals, and just winds up feeling kind of off compared to the original. The controls are largely serviceable, but require getting used to – accurate swipes feel like you have to be a bit quicker with laying down arrows if you want to make a clever redirection of cats, for example. The networked multiplayer still inexplicably has delayed arrow placement; this was acceptable back in the days of dial-up internet, but seems incomprehensible when I can play against people sitting feet away.

But this is still ChuChu Rocket, and the game holds up well to this day. I had some great times reliving this game on my iPhone and iPad, and it’s great to see the game brought back for a new generation of gamers and for those who enjoyed the game back in its heyday to be able to relive it.

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